MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins held their final intra squad scrimmage Monday and team workout Tuesday morning before departing for Chicago to start an unprecedented 60-game season.
The Twins will face the Cubs Wednesday night in an exhibition at Wrigley Field, then have a light session on Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field before everything is for real. A race for the American League Central Division title starts Friday against the White Sox.
Their biggest challenge, while trying to execute on the field, might be staying healthy and aware of the Covid-19 pandemic. That means going from the ballpark to the hotel, staying in and staying safe. No nights out, no restaurants. It may sound boring, but it’s in the name of safety, and they’re going to hold each other accountable.
It’s something Rocco Baldelli addressed with his entire team on Monday.
“We’re doing these things because we want to go out there and have an opportunity to keep playing and hopefully win a World Series, that’s why we’re out there doing all these things,” Baldelli said. “The best way to do that is to take care of each other, stay aware of all these things that we’re talking about and go out there with as healthy of a team as we possibly can the entire season and hopefully win. Everyone on our team knows that.”
As for the baseball side of things, Kenta Maeda had his final ramp up session Monday and went five innings, strikeout out seven on 84 pitches. He gave up a two-run homer to Alex Avila.
He also had one pitch he’d very much like to have back. Maeda hit Josh Donaldson, the new and very expensive third baseman, on the forearm. Baldelli and trainers jumped out of the dugout to check on him, and Donaldson quickly waved them off. The good news is Donaldson is fine.
Maeda, to say the least, was relieved.
“I think that was the end of the world for me, really. I couldn’t have done anything worse,” Maeda said.
Eddie Rosario also provided some offense with a home run.
Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano updates
Byron Buxton did not play in Monday’s scrimmage as he continues to recover from a foot sprain. Baldelli said he did individual work and did some running, but wasn’t at full speed. He worked out with the team on Tuedsay.
Buxton was adamant last week that he’ll be in center field and starting on Opening Day against the White Sox.
“I think he’s definitely doing a lot better and gaining a lot of confidence, which is probably the most important thing right now,” Baldelli said.
Miguel Sano continues to progress as he comes back from testing positive for Covid-19. He’s played solid defensively in intra squad games, but the bat is taking longer to come around despite smashing second and third deck home runs in batting practice.
Baldelli says Sano is physically ready for Friday, but a decision on if he’ll start hasn’t been made.
“I think he’s put himself right in that conversation. Physically he’s in a very good spot, can I tell you if he’s ready to step in there, start on Opening Day and play every day and he’s built up to that, I couldn’t tell you that,” Baldelli said. “But I think he’s definitely shown enough physically that we feel good about him being out there.”