Josh Donaldson tries to make adjustment to stay healthy, Royce Lewis’ injury the latest bit of bad news for Minnesota sports fans and the one change Wolves coach Chris Finch made in his first game.
- Item: Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson, who was limited to 28 games last season and missed the playoffs because of continuing issues with his calves, told reporters he intends to develop a better way to run in order to protect himself. “I’ve really used my foot and calf as kind of the gas for me to go,” he said, according to the Star Tribune. “(Now I’ll) really focus on trying to get more hip drive, using my hips to accelerate through the movements, to where it can take pressure off my calves. At the same time, it’s difficult. … I’ve fallen into some bad patterns from prior injuries.”
- Reaction: The 35-year-old Donaldson, who is entering the second season of a four-year, $92 million contract, has been bothered by calf injuries before and while changing how he runs sounds like a good idea, making sure he does it in the heat of a game might be difficult. Manager Rocco Baldelli is talking about playing Donaldson less — Luis Arraez would be in the lineup when Donaldson sits — and almost certainly will find ways to rest the veteran. “I wish I was a robot and I wish I could be 100 percent and tell you that I’m great,” Donaldson said. “But it’s a sport, and a pretty fast sport. And sometimes things happen.” There were big expectations when Donaldson signed as a free agent last winter. Now, the hope is he (and Byron Buxton) can simply stay on the field.
- Item: Royce Lewis, the No. 1 choice in the 2017 MLB draft and the Twins’ top prospect, will have surgery on Friday to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will miss the season. The rehab process will take nine to 12 months.
- Reaction: This feels like such a Minnesota sports thing. Lewis probably would have started the year in Double-A but the hope would have been for him to progress to Triple-A St. Paul at some point this summer and maybe replace Andrelton Simmons at shortstop next season (assuming next season is played and there isn’t a strike or lockout). Now, Lewis will sit out a second consecutive season — at least from playing games — after his minor league career was put on hold last year because of the pandemic. Lewis will turn 22 on June 5, so he has plenty of time to return and have an incredibly productive career. But with the constant injury concerns surrounding Buxton and Donaldson, the last thing Twins fans needed to hear was the team’s best prospect was lost before games even started. What makes it even more baffling was that it’s not clear when Lewis got hurt. He might have aggravated the problem when he slipped on ice during the recent freezing weather in Texas, but he reported to spring training only experiencing soreness. That will lead to a lost season.
- Item: The Timberwolves were routed 139-112 by the host Milwaukee Bucks in Chris Finch’s debut as an NBA head coach. It was the most lopsided loss in a debut for a Wolves coach and the most points Minnesota has given up this season.
- Reaction: Finch got an idea of just how much work needs to be done with the NBA-worst 7-25 Timberwolves. Making significant changes isn’t going to be easy with the pandemic-shortened schedule, so real adjustments in coaching probably won’t come until next season. But one quick adjustment was made as Karl-Anthony Towns had the ball in his hands on a consistent basis. That resulted in KAT leading the Wolves with 26 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Finch already has made it clear that Towns needs to be the focus of the Wolves’ offense, and, as someone pointed out on Twitter, the Wolves might adopt their own version of the Randy Ratio that was used by former Vikings coach Mike Tice to make sure Randy Moss had a certain amount of passes directed his way each game. While Finch is likely to use the remainder of the season deciding which players best fit his system, the one thing he already knows is that Towns will be the star of that system.