Alex Kirilloff, Jorge Polanco to begin the season on injured list for the Twins
Over the past two seasons, Kirilloff has been limited to 104 total games.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Minnesota Twins will be down a first baseman and a second baseman, and two big bats, when they open the season next Thursday in Kansas City.
Both Alex Kirilloff (wrist) and Jorge Polanco (knee) are set to begin the year on the injured list as they continue to rehab long-term injuries that have forced them out of action since last season.
Kirilloff is returning from a second consecutive season-ending right wrist surgery, this one to shorten his ulna, and while manager Rocco Baldelli said he wasn’t “quite where he needs to be,” he was moving in that direction.
“Being able to hit and then come back the next day and swing again and having the wrist completely out of mind is what we need,” Baldelli said. “It’s the only way to perform at the highest level, and I think he’s getting there.”
Kirilloff said he has found only one other Major League Baseball player, former NL MVP Kirk Gibson, who has had the same surgery, and given the lack of precedence in this context, Kirilloff said there’s “really no hard number for a timeframe” to get back on the field. But the first baseman has mostly felt good this spring and has been playing in minor league games and taking live at-bats, inching closer toward a return.
“Just being able to recover and take as many swings as I have up to this point without taking a step back has been really positive,” he said. “So, I feel like as long as we can continue that, we’re in a pretty good spot.”
Still, though he says he’s optimistic about where he’s at, the Twins are exercising caution with Kirilloff, plagued by wrist issues since the early days of his major league career. Over the past two seasons, Kirilloff has been limited to 104 total games.
“I think we’re definitely still in that boat where we don’t want to rush into anything like that and we want to make sure that I play as many games this year at 100% as possible,” Kirilloff said. “So, we’re just kind of taking every step possible right now to get to that point.”
With Polanco, the Twins are managing what president of baseball operations Derek Falvey described as a bone bruise in his knee, an injury suffered on a slide last season. While Falvey said over the weekend the team has no reason to believe Polanco is dealing with anything new in his knee, he noted that the second baseman’s return has been slowed “a little bit” by soreness and fatigue.
“He’s still trending the way we want. If spring training was a little bit longer, I think we would be having a different discussion,” Baldelli said. “Another guy that has made steady progress but just not fast enough with the time we had. We actually realistically thought he may be ready for Opening Day, but we just need to keep him going in the right direction.”
In Polanco’s absence, Nick Gordon, Kyle Farmer and Donovan Solano should see time at second base. Joey Gallo, Jose Miranda and Solano are among those who expected to play some first base. Kirilloff and Polanco’s injuries also open up a pair of spots on the roster, one of which is expected to be filled by outfielder Trevor Larnach. The other which appears likely to be given to a non-roster invite.
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