The Minnesota Twins will be without their first baseman, Miguel Sano, for an indefinite period of time after he tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
Sano is presently asymptomatic, per the Twins, and is quarantining in Minnesota. He had spent most of his time in the last few months at his home in the Dominican Republic before stopping briefly in Fort Myers, Fla., and then continuing on to Minnesota.
He must test negative twice before he is allowed to return to the field. In addition to Sano, the Twins had announced Friday that catcher Willians Astudillo tested positive during the intake process. Minor leaguers Edwar Colina and Nick Gordon, who are part of the 60-player player pool, also tested positive before intake and are currently quarantining in Florida.
“I think when you see people you know, people you’re familiar with, friends and family affected by this, I think it really does hit home,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think, 100 percent, it becomes very real when you see it firsthand. When it’s only something that you see on television or you see people discussing around town or it’s on the news, I think someone could look at that and not feel like it’s as big of an issue. I personally believe this is a huge issue that we’re all dealing with and I know the importance of it, but everyone might not have the same exact perspective.”
After the team wrapped their workout Saturday, Baldelli said he was planning to speak with both Sano and Astudillo.
“I think it’s very honest to say that our guys that aren’t here are disappointed to not be here,” Baldelli said. “Both have worked really hard. They’re ready to get on the field. They know their buddies are out here and taking part, but we basically just know that we have to deal with this. We have to do it responsibly.”
Aside from those four and Cody Stashak and Byron Buxton, who both welcomed a baby boy in recent days, the Twins have said that everyone else had cleared the initial intake by testing negative, including those who had been around a COVID-19-positive individual. Baldelli said that Buxton, who welcomed son Blaze Jett on Friday, was expected into town on Sunday. Upon his arrival, he must be tested for COVID-19 and register for a negative result before he can join camp.
CHS practices start Sunday
The Twins’ taxi squad will begin practices on Sunday at CHS Field after a couple days off. Minor league assistant pitching coordinator J.P. Martinez will be organizing and running camp, Baldelli said, and it will be based loosely off the major league camp schedule.
“They have to make it work for them,” Baldelli said. “They have a smaller group and so we’re going to let them tinker with it and do whatever they need to make it function on a regular basis.”
The Twins’ top three prospects — Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach — are among the players who will be training over there. Though they aren’t training with the big league team, members of the taxi squad will be eligible to be activated throughout the season.
Baldelli said he will head to St. Paul and speak to the group Sunday morning. Once they kick off, he will receive regular updates on their progress. As the Twins begin to trim down their roster, they will send those players over to St. Paul to train.
Baldelli addresses team
When Baldelli addressed his group in February, he set the expectations high.
World Series high.
Baldelli didn’t use those words again. He didn’t need to.
“I think that is something that is in everyone’s heads,” Baldelli said. “That’s probably something you probably have to hear once and then you don’t have to talk about it anymore. It’s something you have to go and do.”
Instead, he addressed a team facing a whole different set of circumstances, preaching the importance of every player taking care of the player next to him. Now, instead of focusing solely on baseball, there’s a whole new set of challenges that players must navigate to make it to October. Veteran designated hitter Nelson Cruz also spoke to his teammates.
“We tried to do a few different things,” Baldelli said. “We tried to come in with an optimistic tone. We have a team that’s built for dealing with adversity. We have a team that prepares and disciplined and can handle change pretty well and we talked about that a little bit. We also talked about some of the expectations that we’re going to have for our group and a big part of that is obviously respecting everybody around you and taking care of the people around you.”