Another baseball season is upon us.

After two straight seasons with the same results — two division titles, zero playoff wins — the Minnesota Twins return for the 2021 season with high expectations yet again.

The front office supplemented the roster during the offseason by bringing back team leader Nelson Cruz and adding a Gold Glove shortstop in Andrelton Simmons, two starting pitchers in Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ — the latter an all-star earlier in his career — and two bullpen arms in Hansel Robles and Alex Colome.

After going through intake testing, pitchers and catchers will have their first workout on Friday in Fort Myers, Fla. Here are five questions for the Twins as they open spring camp:

How well will the Twins — and MLB — be able to avoid COVID issues?

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The Twins effectively dodged COVID-19 throughout the 2020 season, adhering strictly to Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols. Though they had some players test positive upon intake testing, no Twins player tested positive during the season.

The stringent rules weren’t easy on players, coaches and staff members then, and they won’t be easy now.

How much will spring training be disrupted by COVID-19 around the league? The answer, hopefully, is not at all, though that’s unrealistic. The answer, most likely, is at least somewhat, as we’ve seen as other leagues have issues trying to play through the pandemic.

As with everything these days, the COVID situation will be a recurring topic of conversation this spring.

What are the Twins’ plans for Alex Kirilloff and who will start in left?

What the Twins wind up doing with young Alex Kirilloff is one of the most intriguing storylines this spring. Kirilloff is widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the league and the Twins just so happen to have a corner outfield spot available.

But will he begin the year in Minneapolis or will he start across the river in St. Paul? By keeping him in the minor leagues to begin the season, the Twins could gain an extra year of control over Kirilloff down the road. Kirilloff is ready —or at least very near-ready — and the Twins showed they think so, too, by placing him on their playoff roster and in the lineup in the first-round series against the Astros.

If the Twins decide to leave Kirilloff at Triple-A to begin the season, other internal options are Jake Cave, Brent Rooker or even Luis Arraez, who the Twins have said will be shifting around the field in a super-sub type role.

Who will be the fifth starting pitcher?

The Twins seemingly took a big step toward answering this question before spring training even began.

Though they haven’t yet made the move official, the Twins agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with Shoemaker, who now appears to be the frontrunner for the last spot in the Twins rotation behind Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda and J.A. Happ.

Shoemaker has had extensive injury issues in the recent past, making a combined 32 starts in the past four seasons. But if healthy, he likely wins this spot.

Before Shoemaker’s signing, it looked like Randy Dobnak’s spot to lose, and while Dobnak still will compete for the rotation spot, the Twins potentially could shift him into the bullpen to begin the year. Expect him to get his fair share of starts this season, too.

How will the bullpen picture shake out?

How the Twins’ bullpen looks on April 1 might not even be how it looks just a few days later, as the Twins will be working to keep arms fresh. But how they wind up configuring their bullpen for their Opening Day roster will be a storyline throughout the spring.

The Twins added Robles and Colome this offseason. Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers are returning. Cody Stashak and Caleb Thielbar had productive 2020 seasons. If Shoemaker begins the season as the team’s fifth starter, Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe all could be competing for a spot in the bullpen.

The Twins also have other options in guys like Edwar Colina, Shaun Anderson, Ian Gibaut, Ian Hamilton, Brandon Waddell and more who will get looks in camp and could help out at some point throughout the year.

How will Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez adjust to new roles?

A season ago, Miguel Sano’s shift across the infield from third to first was a big topic of conversation.

This year, it’ll be how both Jorge Polanco and Arraez are adjusting to new roles with Simmons now on board. Arraez appeared on Zoom earlier this week, and he proclaimed his willingness to play wherever needed. Polanco has yet to speak to the media this spring, but manager Rocco Baldelli has said he’s similarly up for making the move.

Polanco, who is coming off his second ankle surgery in as many offseasons, will be shifting to second base, a position he has played sparingly at the major-league level and not since 2016, but one the Twins think he’s well suited for. Arraez will be moving to a Marwin Gonzalez-type role, where the Twins can shift him around the infield — and he might even see some time in the outfield, moving him around while keeping his bat consistently in the lineup.