Featured Posts | Twins

Twins place Max Kepler on injured list; Brent Rooker makes major league debut

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
Aug 3, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins center fielder Max Kepler (26) reacts after scoring during the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Twins placed outfielder Max Kepler on the 10-day injured list Friday because of a left adductor strain and selected the contract of outfielder Brent Rooker. The Kepler move is retroactive to Sept. 3.
Kepler left the Twins’ victory over the White Sox on Wednesday because of what was announced as left groin tightness. He is hitting .220/.322/.431 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 35 games this season. This is the first time he has been on the injured list in his career.
“I really do believe if it were a different set of circumstances, if we had a healthy (Josh) Donaldson and Buck (Byron Buxton), who could play regularly, if Louie (Arraez) wasn’t also in the same boat in some ways, we may have been able to avoid an IL stint (for Kepler),” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “But with a muscle injury, even a very minor muscle injury, the last thing we’re going to do is rush any of our guys back out there to play with something that could potentially get worse. We figured take the 10 days, knock it out. I’m pretty sure when that 10 days is up, Kep will be ready to go and then, hopefully, we can go on from there.”
Rooker, who has been working at the Twins’ alternate training site in St. Paul, started both games of the Twins’ doubleheader sweep against Detroit on Friday at Target Field. Rooker played left field in the first game and was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat in the Twins’ 2-0 victory. He lined to short in the fourth inning of the seven-inning game before being removed for defensive purposes in the fifth.
The 25-year-old was in right field for the second game in which the Twins rallied for a 3-2 victory in eight innings. Rooker struck out in his first at-bat and then got his first big-league hit, a single, in the third inning to drive in Jorge Polanco and give the Twins a 1-0 lead. Rooker made a diving attempt to catch a Jonathan Schoop sinking liner to right in the bottom of the inning but couldn’t make the play. Victor Reyes scored and Schoop ended up on third with a triple as the Tigers took a 2-1 lead. That marked Rooker’s first game in right field since he played there in 2016 while in the Cape Cod Summer League.
Rooker, who was taken in the first round, 35th overall, in the 2017 draft, played in 65 games with Triple-A Rochester last season, hitting .281/.398/.535 with 16 doubles, 14 home runs and 47 RBIs in 65 games. Rooker has played in 259 career minor league games, hitting .267/.357/.505 with 54 home runs and 178 RBIs. “(He’s) a guy that’s been a very dynamic bat in the minor leagues, a guy that has good at-bats but he can really put a charge into a ball and impact a game,” Baldelli said.
The Twins also lost another player to injury in the second game Friday as catcher Alex Avila left in the third inning because of lower back tightness. Avila was scratched from the lineup on Wednesday because of the same issue. He was replaced by rookie Ryan Jeffers, who started at catcher in Game 1. Baldelli said a decision on Avila would be made Sunday.
The Twins had added catcher/infielder Willians Astudillo as the 29th man for Friday’s doubleheader but might need to keep him around if Avila lands on the 10-day injured list. Astudillo played in 58 games for the Twins last season but had a positive test for COVID-19 upon joining the club for summer camp this year. Righthander Juan Minaya, meanwhile, cleared waivers and was assigned to the alternate training site in St. Paul.