The Twins have been without their shortstop Andrelton Simmons since April 14, a day after they got word of his positive COVID-19 test result. It’s no stretch to say they’ve missed the defensive whiz.
But it appears the Twins won’t be missing him for much longer: Simmons has cleared COVID-19 protocols and appears to be on track for a return within the next few days, potentially as soon as Monday.
“We’ve been able to get him moving around. More than anything, we need his body to start moving again, sweating, getting him in the weight room, having him throw some balls, go hit in the cage, things like that,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “And after being down for a period of time, that’s the number one thing we have to do before anything else.”
The Twins plan to run him through another on-field workout on Monday at Progressive Field in Cleveland ahead of their series opener there to better assess where he is at. While out with the virus, Simmons was unable to do much activity at home, Baldelli has said.
As for when he’s ready to return, much of that will be determined by what Simmons says in conversations with the medical staff and the coaching staff after he’s able to get some reps in on the field.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a feel thing, along with our medical group having an opinion as far as when he should be back. But a lot of it is going to have to do with him just being on his feet for a few days, being able to go through full workouts, handle them no problem,” Baldelli said. “Once he gets to that point, I think he’s probably going to be back in games.”
When Simmons comes back, the Twins will then be able to shift Jorge Polanco back to second base and move Luis Arraez back into a multi-positional role, where he can fill in around the infield and perhaps in left.
Simmons was 11 for 31 (.354) at the plate before landing on the injured list, and while the Twins will be happy to add his bat back to the lineup, they’ll be even happier to have his glove back to shore up their infield defense.
“We know what kind of defender he is. We’ve talked about this a lot, but you really see it. Just in the way you function, just in the way we communicate in the infield and work through things,” Baldelli said. “That’s a big part of bringing an infield together and having success and, frankly, just making plays.”
TWINS RECALL STASHAK
Devin Smeltzer’s bullpen-saving effort on Saturday earned him a big thank you from his manager and a trip back to St. Paul in favor of a fresh arm since Smeltzer will now be down for multiple days after throwing 52 pitches in his season debut.
“The guys understand why we do things. It gives them some really good perspective and allows them to also go forward and to prepare for the next time around even better,” Baldelli said Saturday. “Every guy is different, and Smeltz understands what we do and how we do it. He just wants to get ready for his next outing. That’s all he cares about.”
That fresh arm, the Twins revealed Sunday morning, belongs to Cody Stashak. The Twins recalled Stashak, who they had optioned 10 days earlier, after optioning Smeltzer. Stashak entered in the sixth inning Sunday and wound up giving up three runs on three hits in the seventh while recording just two outs.
The Twins’ taxi squad for their upcoming road trip will include Derek Law, Brandon Waddell, Rob Refsnyder and Ben Rortvedt. … The Twins are scheduled to miss Cleveland ace Shane Bieber, who threw on Saturday. … José Berríos will face off against Zach Plesac on Monday.