There aren’t too many noticeable differences from the Minnesota Twins’ first road trip of the season to their second, Twins reliever Trevor May said, even after Major League Baseball cracked down on road travel rules after outbreaks of COVID-19 on two separate teams.
That the Twins haven’t noticed many changes affirms that they have been taking the necessary precautions from the start, as they try to avoid an outbreak like the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals have experienced.
“The only thing is the surgical masks on the plane and the bus. That’s all I’ve really noticed so far. I don’t really leave my room much as it is, so I haven’t really noticed anything there,” May said. “Everyone’s kind of following on and hoping for the best.”
New this trip, MLB has mandated each team must have a compliance officer, who is tasked with making sure teams are following health and safety protocols laid out by the league.
For the Twins, that’s Dan Twaddle, who has worked for the team in a security role. Manager Rocco Baldelli said they took time to re-introduce Twaddle and walk through the protocols.
“(He) is a very entrenched member of our group already, so it’s very helpful to have someone that you know and trust and can rely on and is also very good with people. Because let’s be honest: That role is a very difficult role where it’s basically your job to enforce a lot of things that are sometimes difficult to remember,” Baldelli said. “We’re all adults here, but these are not all the easiest things to make adjustments on in any given day.”
Within the hotels they’ve stayed at, the Twins have a large area where players can grab food and coffee in the morning.
As the league works to crack down on positive cases — the Cardinals, who have not played since July 29 against the Twins, were set to restart their season on Friday before news of more positive tests — Baldelli said he expected to see an increase in mask-wearing during games as well as “documentation on what we do on the road.”
“We shouldn’t be doing very much out of the hotel unless you’re going to be going for a walk or a jog away from all other human life,” Baldelli said. “That’s basically what we do unless you need to go to CVS or something or Walgreens. That’s probably the extent of what we should be doing. That’s what Dan’s job is.”
And if that’s what it takes to give the Twins the best chance possible to play far into the season, they’re all for it.
“(I) FaceTime the family for the most part and room service,” center fielder Byron Buxton said of life on the road. “I don’t really try to go too far especially with tests popping up with teams just going outside and things like that. We’re all trying to stay inside and make sure we’re doing the right thing to follow the protocols because we know this is a special year.”
Miguel Sano’s transition across the diamond hasn’t gone flawlessly, but the new first baseman is adapting.
When third baseman Josh Donaldson went down with an injury last week, the Twins opted to keep Sano at first instead of sending him back to third.
“It’s not an easy position to learn or to play. I’m just trying to work every single day with my coaches to minimize mistakes,” he said. “It’s more difficult when there are people on base and you have to pay attention to pickoff moves and someone stealing a base, things like that. It’s a lot of attention to detail. I’m just trying my best to learn the position day-by-day.”
The Twins do not expect Rich Hill (shoulder fatigue) to pitch on this road trip, Baldelli said. Hill will need to throw a bullpen before they can schedule a start. That could possibly come in Milwaukee. … Reliever Zack Littell (hamstring) is doing well, Baldelli said, and the manager doesn’t expect him to be gone much longer than the 10 days. Littell was placed on the injured list on Aug. 1, retroactive to July 31.