NEW YORK — Despite afternoon drizzle, Twins rookie second baseman Luis Arraez spent time taking ground balls Thursday at Yankee Stadium to see if he has recovered enough from a sprained ankle to be included on the Twins’ 25-man roster for the American League Division Series that begins Friday night.
Arraez suffered a Grade 1 ankle sprain last Saturday in Kansas City but has made significant progress in his recovery, according to Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. Arraez hit .334/.399/.439 with four home runs and 28 RBIs in 92 games with the Twins this season.
“Arraez having the ankle sprain most recently is probably the guy that’s most discussed and something we’ll have to figure out by tomorrow,” Baldelli said. “Is it challenging? Sure. It’s a good problem to have, though, because he’s healed really well, probably faster than anyone anticipated, and he’s put himself in a spot where we’re taking this question very seriously. If you asked a few days ago — I could say this now — we were probably sitting around saying, ‘We’re not sure this guy is going to be able to play, just flat out.’ He’s healed very well. He’s moving around very well, and now we have a good discussion to have.”
That discussion will have to end early Friday morning because the Twins must submit their roster for the ALDS to Major League Baseball by 9 a.m. There also are decisions to be made on outfielder Max Kepler (shoulder, back) and super-utility man Marwin Gonzalez (oblique). First baseman C.J. Cron (thumb), utilityman Willians Astudillo and pitcher Kyle Gibson (ulcerative colitis) also could be question marks. Will the Twins go with 12 pitchers and 13 position players or 13 pitchers and 12 position players?
“If you guys pay attention, you can probably find scraps of paper from Minnesota all the way to the clubhouse here at Yankee Stadium because we’ve scratched and thrown ideas around and opinions around,” Baldelli said. “It’s been challenging because one thing that we’ve seen — anyone that’s followed our club knows that we’ve had so many guys contribute in major ways. To limit the roster to this playoff roster that we’re going to go with is very difficult. Very, very difficult.
“It’s fun in a lot of ways. This is all a good time and we’re enjoying ourselves, but when it comes down to it, we have a lot of guys that could help us win this series and go out there and do good things. The injury part of it, has it complicated things in some ways? For sure, obviously, it has. We’re still figuring out exactly what some of our guys are capable of doing, where they’re going to be, not just today and tomorrow, but over the course of the next week, what they’re going to be capable of is a question.”
Gibson, asked if he had been told whether he would be on the roster, said he was only told to be prepared to pitch out of the bullpen but did not know if he would make the final cut.
BALDELLI: ‘I DON’T CARE WHAT’S HAPPENED’
Twins relievers Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey were walking from the clubhouse to the interview room at Yankee Stadium on Thursday when Rogers mentioned to his teammate that the last time the Twins lost a playoff series to New York he was trying to figure out how to get a higher ACT score and wasn’t exactly worried about the MLB postseason.
Rogers’ point? “I know that Twins fans have a lot of memories, but we don’t,” he said. “So I think we’re going in with a fresh slate, clean slate, and it’s a very positive slate.”
If you didn’t know already, the Twins have lost four playoff series against the Yankees and also dropped the 2017 wild card game in the Bronx. Minnesota is 2-13 in those games and has dropped 10 in a row. But these Twins have made it clear that’s not their past and they really don’t care what happened.
“I don’t think we need any more motivation,” Baldelli said. “I think our guys are very happy to be here and very excited to be playing the Yankees. I think we’ve had to answer a lot of questions from people that are worried about what has happened in the past.
“I’ve said earlier this week, and I’ll say it again, I don’t care about what’s happened here in the past. I don’t care about anything except what goes on with our guys, starting this Friday, and this series is really all that matters. Nothing that’s ever happened here before or in Minnesota or anywhere else previously is going to affect any of our players in any way. For people that are sitting at home, grab a drink and put your feet up and enjoy. It’s going to be a fun series, and our players are just waiting for the first pitch. I mean, they’re ready to go.”
By the way, Rogers said he did not figure out how to get a higher ACT score.
“I feel like I’m a nice person, but I’m not a giving person” — Baldelli, asked if he felt in a giving mood and would tell us whether Jake Odorizzi would be the Game 2 starter since he had revealed Jose Berrios would start the ALDS opener.