MINNEAPOLIS — Twins second baseman Luis Arraez left Friday’s intrasquad game in the second inning because of tendinitis in his right knee and is considered day-to-day, according to manager Rocco Baldelli.
Baldelli said there is a chance Arraez could play in the Twins’ intrasquad game on Saturday but it sounds as if he might sit for a couple of days. The Twins want to make sure Arraez is ready to go for the season-opener next Friday against the White Sox in Chicago.
“I think he’s going to be fine,” Baldelli said. “Like most of our guys, our guys are always trying to get back out there. Initially, he said he was hoping to go back out (Friday) and then we kind of convinced him to just head inside and get treated.”
Arraez was injured when he advanced to second on a wild pitch by Homer Bailey after reaching on an error by shortstop Jorge Polanco. He did not slide into second as he arrived at the bag and it was clear he was experiencing some discomfort. Arraez was replaced at second base by Travis Blackenhorn in the bottom of the second inning.
Arraez joins a list of players the Twins are hoping to get back in the coming days. That includes first baseman Miguel Sano and center fielder Byron Buxton. Sano has returned after recovering from the coronavirus; Buxton suffered a mid-left foot sprain on Monday while chasing a fly ball. Both players have said they will be ready to go next week, but the final decision will be made by the team.
BERRIOS TO START OPENER
Baldelli made the expected announcement that righthander Jose Berrios will start the opener against the White Sox. It will be Berrios’ second consecutive Opening Day start. The Twins beat Cleveland, 2-0, in their 2019 opener.
Baldelli announced in March that Berrios would start the Twins’ opener on March 26 at Oakland, but that was wiped out when the coronavirus pandemic caused baseball to shut down.
BUXTON STAYING PUT?
Buxton was the ninth-place hitter in the Twins’ order last season in 71 of the 78 games that he started and slashed .258/.311/.500 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs from that spot. So do the Twins plan to keep him at the bottom of the order?
“I haven’t spoken with Buck yet this year (about that),” Baldelli said. “I think that worked out actually great last year. I think the thought of wondering all the time, ‘Where am I going to hit? If I swing the bat really well am I going to move in the lineup?’ I think eliminating a lot of that thought process is helpful and just knowing you are going to consistently be there, we’re going to rely on you at that spot and you just go and do your job, as opposed to having all these other thoughts.
“I think that does help a lot. I’m not going to say that’s any of the reason why Buck went out there and had the success he did last year. He went out there and performed and did a hell of a job last year getting those consistent at-bats. But it is nice to not have those extra thoughts.”
Baldelli declined to say whether Buxton will stay in the ninth spot in the order but his comments would indicate that likely will be the case.
KIRILLOFF AT FIRST
Prospect Alex Kirilloff was at first base for the second consecutive intrasquad game. In his first two minor league seasons, Kirilloff did not play a game at first, but last season he played 35 games at the position for Double-A Pensacola. He also played 49 games in the outfield.
Baldelli said that Kirilloff looks “really comfortable” and “solid” at first base. “He looked very natural over there,” Baldelli said. “I think his actions are good, his feet are good, he’s got good hands. He does a lot of things that you would want to see in a good major league first baseman. We have no qualms about sending him over there, putting him out there. … He does a good job and we have no worries. The learning curve for him is not super steep because of the experience that he already has.”
Kirilloff, who hit two home runs and drove in four runs in 10 spring training games for the Twins before baseball came to a halt in March, homered to left off Michael Pineda in the fourth inning of his team’s 8-6, seven-inning loss on Friday. Kirilloff has started both intrasquad games at first base this week and is 2-for-7.
Brent Rooker, another prospect who started at first base for the “visiting” team on Friday, blasted a home run to center field off starter Homer Bailey in the fifth inning.
PINEDA GETS SOME WORK
Pineda, who must sit out the first 36 games of the season as part of the 60-game suspension he was given last season for taking a banned diuretic, did get to pitch an inning on Friday. Entering in relief of starter Jhoulys Chacin, who is on the Twins’ taxi squad, Pineda struck out the side, while giving up one run (Kirilloff’s homer), two hits (also a single to right fielder Trevor Larnach) and no walks in the fourth inning.
Bailey went 4.2 innings, giving up four runs and three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Chacin pitched three innings, giving up two runs and three hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Third baseman Ehire Adrianza went 2-for-3 with three RBIs for the winning team and center fielder LaMonte Wade Jr. went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Polanco had two hits, including a home run, for the losing team and designated hitter Nelson Cruz went 2-for-4 with an RBI.