MINNEAPOLIS – Four days after he injured his left heel, Carlos Correa was dancing around the infield Friday night.
Correa chased down the speedy George Springer, which led to an inning-ending double play, and later stepped up the middle to steal a hit from Vlad Guerrero Jr. Correa even floated into the outfield to track down some shallow fly balls.
Considering the Twins don’t know if Correa will be in the lineup, a team with 11 players on the injured list is hoping the series of games represents a phase where they’re about to get even better. healthy.
Correa returned to the lineup after missing two games for treatment of an injured left heel and plantar fasciitis. Before the end of the holiday weekend, the Twins, who fell 3-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays at Target Field, could also see the return of Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and maybe even prospect Royce Lewis, who eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list Monday.
The Twins also announced before Friday’s game that Kenta Maeda and Caleb Thielbar will begin rehab assignments with Triple-A St. Paul on Tuesday.
“It’s tough,” said first baseman/outfielder Joey Gallo. “As a team, when guys go down, it affects the difference in the lineup, the difference in guys that have to move positions, things like that. That’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to play. And we have a lot of versatile guys on this team that can play first base or infield, play outfield or play all different positions, to help. But obviously, yeah, you want your star players in the lineup.
The Twins were pleasantly surprised to see Correa in good enough shape to start Friday. It was just Monday when Correa made an awkward move that resulted in him needing an MRI on Tuesday afternoon, one that showed inflammation and plantar fasciitis.
But when he arrived Friday after the team had the day off, Correa was in enough place that the Twins held back their major league lineup until nearly 5 p.m. to see if he could play.
“We’re not going to take a wait-and-see opportunity if he’s not feeling well,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “I think that’s a good sign. It is heading in a good direction. He felt great coming out of treatment the day before, and the day off added a rest day. “
Carlos Correa 🧨
High baseball IQ 🤓#MLB || #MNTwins pic.twitter.com/Cni4j0nk7f
— Bally Sports North (@BallySportsNOR) May 27, 2023
There are plenty of other good signs for a team that desperately needs them. Polanco hit the field and plans to run at 100 percent intensity before Friday’s game to test his left hamstring strain. Kepler is nearing the end of his IL stint.
And then there’s Lewis, who could return to action at the start of a three-game series in Houston. Monday marks one year since Lewis tore his anterior cruciate ligament for a second time. Known for his enthusiastic attitude, positive energy and first overall draft talent, Lewis could give the Twins exactly the kind of boost they need.
“The main determinant is how prepared you are and how well he feels,” Falvey said. “We want to make sure he’s completely healthy — that’s always been the case. His timing is right, he’s feeling good, he’s playing well, he’s back to being a regular baseball player.
Lewis singled and walked in five trips to the plate at Triple-A St. Paul on Friday.
“I was just being myself and having fun,” Lewis said Friday afternoon. “Honestly, when I perform well, whether it’s defense or offense, it happens when I feel emotionally. It just tells you where I’m at emotionally and I’m so happy to be back on the diamond and just playing the game that I’ve loved and missed for the last three years.
There’s little doubt how much the Twins will miss Thielbar during his 21-game absence with a right-oblique strain. In Thielbar’s 20-game absence entering Friday, the Twins reliever was 3-8 with a 3.50 ERA and just two saves.
Thielbar is scheduled to throw his second bullpen session in Saturday’s homestand and is scheduled to join the St. Paul this Tuesday in Buffalo. Maeda will accompany Thielbar on the trip after he participated in a bullpen session on Friday afternoon.
It didn’t take long for the Blue Jays to try Correa. With a runner on third, the infield in and one out in the first inning, Correa cleanly fielded a hopper by Guerrero and immediately ran after Springer, his former Houston Astros teammate. Correa didn’t slow down when he got ahead of Springer, chased him back and immediately shot to first to catch Guerrero circling the bag.
Two innings later, Correa went to his left to pick off Guerrero’s grounder, firing to first in time for the final out. Correa credited Nick Paparesta’s athletic training staff for getting him ready just days after he woke up worried. After he took grounders before the game, Correa received staff permission to play.
“They took care of me,” said Correa. “I did the treatment the last two games the whole game, all day. We made a lot of progress. Nick and the guys did a good job with it. Woke up today and said, ‘Hey, I think I feel good to be able to play today.’ He tested me a little bit there to make sure I was ready. I didn’t expect to have that many defensive plays, but that’s what happens when you have something.”
The offense struggled again, holding 13 in the loss
The base loaded item is back. Still not good.
Despite boasting the fourth-best OPS in the majors with runners in scoring position, the Twins continue to be a disaster with the bases loaded.
They had two more chances Friday and both came up empty, though the first was with the help of another blown call. Hitting with a full count, Michael A. Taylor checked his swing on what looked like a pitch low and out. However, plate umpire Bruce Dreckman called Taylor out for the second out of the inning.
Toronto reliever Erik Swanson got out of the jam when Donovan Solano jumped on a fielder’s choice. The Twins are 5-for-45 with the bases loaded and have a .278 team OPS. With runners in scoring position, the Twins have an .842 OPS.
“I know today I was a little disappointed,” said Byron Buxton, who got the win after seeing a borderline pitch in the seventh inning. “It was my first day where I was a little tired of it. And it didn’t change my approach at the plate or my at-bats. It just changed – I felt like it changed the mood. “
Taylor was satisfied when he saw another momentum-changing pitch as it landed in the glove of Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk. He knew he made a good check decision when he checked the location of the pitch later, too.
“I felt like I did what I wanted to do, got on base, got a quality at-bat, and getting it was bad,” Taylor said. “But that’s the game. There is a human error in this. That’s part of it. I tracked the ball into the glove, and when I looked back I saw Bruce calling out to me. I was shocked. I thought it was a ball. I asked him if it was in the swing or the pitch, and he said it was in the pitch.
Kevin Kiermaier sent a missile into deep right field. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/ZXdA2nOzR4
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 27, 2023
This is the latest incident where the Twins have been on the bad end of a missed call.
What makes Friday’s loss difficult to understand is that the Twins walked nine times. Only one of the runners scored (Alex Kirilloff) when Kyle Garlick doubled early in the sixth inning. Overall, the Twins finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on.
“It was kind of a weird game because we weren’t swinging the bats very well, but we had some good at-bats,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We got behind some counts, threw some pitches away in the last half of these at-bats. Got some guys on base. We’ve got to get guys around. We didn’t do that.”
The lackluster offense meant a solid outing by rookie starting pitcher Louie Varland was wasted. Varland was punished for a pair of fielding errors in the third inning as Kevin Kiermaier hit a solo homer and Bo Bichette blasted a two-run shot.
Otherwise, Varland kept a good streak in check, limiting Toronto to six hits and no walks in six innings.
“That’s a big number,” catcher Christian Vázquez said of the team’s nine walks. “We have to get better. Everything. Join myself. I have to help the team win with the bat. I’m not doing it. I did it and it gets better.
Baldelli, wife expecting twins
Who says the media can’t keep secrets? More than a month after he let it slip during the pregame media session, Baldelli’s wife, Allie, announced via social media that the couple is expecting their second and third children, twin boys.
The news quickly spread as soon as it was made public, even reaching a report by TMZ.
“We’re very happy,” Baldelli said. “There’s a lot going on.”
(Photo: Daniel Shirey / MLB Photos via Getty Images)