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TwinsFest notes: Team maps out spring training plan for Michael Pineda

MINNEAPOLIS — Righthander Michael Pineda will have 39 games remaining on his 60-game PED suspension when the regular season begins, but the ban doesn’t stop him from being with the Twins in spring training. Pineda, however, will only pitch in minor league games in Florida as he prepares to return in May.

Twins general manager Thad Levine explained during a question-and-answer session for fans at TwinsFest on Saturday at Target Field that because Pineda is on the restricted list he can’t take part in big-league games in the spring. “He’ll have a little bit of a different path to building up because he has a little bit of a longer runway,” Levine said. “But we’ll use that time for conditioning, we’ll use that time for arm strengthening, so when he gets back, hopefully, he can be healthy for the rest of the season.”

Pineda, who returned to the Twins on a two-year, $20 million contract in December despite hurting the team’s playoff chances by getting suspended last September, will be eligible for a 30-day rehab period before his suspension ends so he can get ready in the minor leagues.

Pineda, 31, will be expected to step into the starting rotation upon his return. He went 11-5 with a 4.01 ERA in 26 starts last season with the Twins.

CHANGES IN THE REPLAY ROOM?

The fallout from the Houston Astros’ sign stealing scandal continues to be felt around baseball and more changes could be coming because of it. Twins president Dave St. Peter told fans on Saturday that, “I  think we could see some additional operational changes around what happens with video replay rooms and how MLB monitors this going forward.”

“It’s sad that we have to do that but I think there could be some additional steps taken and we certainly would welcome that from the Minnesota Twins perspective,” he said.

Twins owner Jim Pohlad said there is an owners’ meeting in the first part of February and that he believes the subject of replay rooms will be a “huge topic of discussion.”

SANO AT FIRST BASE

Levine and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli were making their first recruiting pitch to third baseman Josh Donaldson when the free agent asked how it would impact Miguel Sano if he signed.

Donaldson was concerned about how Sano might take being moved from third to first base. “I think, quite frankly, if Rocco and I said, ‘We don’t know,’ I think (Donaldson’s) interest in us would have really receded,” Levine said. “We then got on the phone with Miguel Sano and talked to him. We signed him to an extension this offseason, he was here, we had a chance to meet with him face to face.

“We asked him exactly that question. This was before we signed Josh Donaldson. (We said), ‘How would you feel if you moved across the diamond, played some first base?’ His response was, ‘If this enhances our chance to win a championship, you can play may literally anywhere.'”

The Twins announced this week that Donaldson had signed a four-year, $92 million deal that contains a fifth-year option.

Sano will be the Twins’ primary first baseman with Marwin Gonzalez playing behind him. “Literally, the minute we signed Josh Donaldson, we connected with Miguel Sano, who is working out in the Dominican Republic,” Levine said. “He immediately put on a first base glove, walked across the diamond and started working out.”

LESSON LEARNED?

One fan asked Levine what the Twins learned from the trade that brought reliever Sam Dyson from San Francisco in return for three prospects. Dyson, acquired at the trade deadline last July, pitched in only 12 games and had a 7.15 ERA for the Twins before being shut down because of shoulder problems that required surgery. Dyson is expected to miss all of the 2020 season and elected to become a free agent when the Twins outrighted him from the major league roster.

“We’re going to make mistakes,” Levine said. “We have to learn from our mistakes. One of the unique elements of our job is the assets that we trade in our human beings and no matter how great our analytic systems are and our projection models are, human beings do things you’re not expecting. In this instance there was an injury that we could not have forecasted. His performance in San Francisco was really stellar prior to his acquisition. Not only was his performance stellar, but his usage pattern would have suggested that whatever ailments he had he was able to pitch through.

“Once he got here that didn’t prove to be the case. I would tell you, two things that come out of that for me is, we will commit to you that we won’t back down from the next trade just because of the experience we had with that one, (and) we will continue to learn from the mistakes we made, no different than the successes that we have, to refine our decision making for the next time.”

Levine also was asked if the Dyson injury made the Twins hesitant to make future trades with the Giants? “No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I think you’re given a set of information and you have to assume it’s as thorough and complete as it possibly can (be) and then you’re making an informed decision based upon on the information you have.

“Will it lead us down the path of asking an additional layer of questions? Maybe. But I think this is just one of those things that was an unfortunate circumstance that nobody truly understood how close he was to sustaining a pretty significant injury when we acquired him.”





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