Nick Gordon’s first taste of the majors came and went without the former first-rounder seeing any game action. Gordon was optioned to the alternate site — though will remain with the team on the taxi squad in Cleveland — on Monday afternoon as the Twins welcomed back shortstop Andrelton Simmons from the COVID-19 injured list.
Simmons, who has been out since mid-April after testing positive for the coronavirus, has been able to get workouts in on the field over the past couple days to the point where he felt ready to return.
His return immediately improves the Twins’ infield defense, which has sorely missed him — Wednesday’s loss to Oakland being the best example of that. With Simmons back in the fold, Jorge Polanco shifted back to second on Monday. Luis Arraez, who had been playing second while Simmons was out and Polanco was at short, was in left field.
“We’re always going to be better when we have our best defensive group out there, and Andrelton is certainly part of that group with everything he brings to the table, obviously with his play at shortstop but also his leadership out on the field defensively,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
As for keeping Tzu-Wei Lin on the roster upon the shortstop’s return instead of Gordon, Baldelli said they valued Lin’s versatility. Lin, Baldelli said, can play outfield if need be. And with two outfielders out with COVID-19 — Max Kepler and Kyle Garlick — and one slightly banged up — Byron Buxton — that was what the Twins needed at the time.
“With some guys a little banged up and with all of the roster questions that we’ve had over the past week or two, we just chose a little more versatility and being able to go to different spots on the field,” Baldelli said. ” … I’m looking forward to seeing (Gordon) out there. I’m looking forward to seeing him get his first AB and getting an opportunity. But right now with everything going on, we just needed to go with the versatility.”
Buxton woke up Monday morning with his knee bothering him a little bit more than it had been, prompting Baldelli to leave his name off the lineup card. Baldelli said Buxton has been dealing with patellar tendinitis since the beginning of the season.
Baldelli described it as pain in the front of the knee cap and suggested it could possibly be the cause of the minor hamstring issue that Buxton dealt with earlier in April. The Twins don’t seem to perceive this to be a serious issue for Buxton and expect him back soon.
“So this doesn’t continue on, we’re going to have to make sure that he’s well taken care of in the training room and that he gets his work in. But Buck always gets his work in and makes sure that he takes care of his body really well,” Baldelli said before the game. “We’ll see what this afternoon holds and tomorrow holds.”
Eddie Rosario harbors no hard feelings towards the Twins, even after they non-tendered him early in December, letting him walk into free agency. Rather, he’s thankful to the organization, the one which drafted him in 2010, developed him and made his major league dreams come true.
And Twins fans? Well, he really misses them and that “Ed-die, Ed-die,” chant he had grown accustomed to hearing.
“I took it as a challenge. It was a little shocking at the time, but this is a business, and you have to treat it like that,” Rosario said of the non-tender. “The teammates are going to be there, the organization is going to be there. We’re going to have the interaction. But the only sad part and the challenging part is seeing the feedback from the fans. They keep reaching out. They keep asking for you. That’s difficult, because you owe a lot to them.”
Rosario’s foray into free agency led him to Cleveland, where he signed a one-year, $8 million deal — and where he’ll have plenty of opportunities to face his former teammates, starting Monday.
Rosario in particular was not looking forward to facing José Berríos, a touch matchup for anyone. But he ended up going 2 for 3 against his former teammate, doubling home a run in the sixth inning off the Twins’ starter.