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The Twins Beat

La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Teammates rally round 'brother' Polanco after suspension for doping

BRADENTON, FLA. -- The Twins are having a bullpen game today in Bradenton against the Pirates, as Taylor Rogers will start and be relieved by Trevor Hildenberger followed by Tyler Duffey. The Twins want Rogers and Hildenberger to face major league hitters, leading to the unusual set up.

But the news is back in Fort Myers, where Jorge Polanco is meeting with reporters one day after he slapped with an 80-game suspension for testing positive for Stanazolol. 

Phil Miller is on the scene for that session, as well as the meeting with CBO Derek Falvey.

I did swing through the clubhouse this morning before the bus left for Bradenton, and talked to some more people in Bradenton. Twins players, not surprisingly, feel terrible for Polanco. But second baseman Brian Dozier made it clear that players don't want cheaters in the game.

"I do know this, that we as players want performance enhancing drugs out of the equation for everybody," he said. "We don't want it in our game, no part of it. We want a clean game. With that being said, people make mistakes. That's the world we live in. And I know, more than ever, Polanco needs a little love right now. That's my brother. So that comes first.

"He's our brother and we've got his back. He needs a little love and he'll get it from us."

Dozier, like a couple other players I asked, found out about the suspension Sunday night via twitter. The text messages started flying right after that.

"That was a tough part that the news," outfielder Byron Buxton said. "You see the news and you automatically feel for him. No one had a clue about anything. When I found out on twitter, I tried to get his number so he could have that support system."

Buxton texted Miguel Sano for some more details, then contacted Polanco.

"I just told him to keep you head up. You know we've got your back, things like that," Buxton said. "He texted me back and said he appreciated it and was sorry. We all know it is a tough time for him. Just trying to be there for him and let him know that he has a shoulder to lean on."

Sano, perhaps Polanco's closest friend, tried to console him as well.

"He's sad," Sano said. "He was crying last night. We talked a lot. It's a bad spot for him, the team, his family. He told me he never tried to do it."

Many players have not spoken to Polanco yet. Most players had left the ballpark on Sunday when the suspension was announced. Then there was an early bus to Bradenton today. Tuesday is a scheduled off day. Polanco won't be able to speak  to his teammates until Wednesday afternoon, before the evening game against Pittsburgh.

Polanco, the way, is scheduled to earn $575,000 this season. The suspension will cost him $287,500 in wages. That's based on an 186-day league calendar, so if there's a rainout, and his return date of June 30 is pushed back, it will cost him even more.

Back to baseball...


Brian Dozier, 2B
Max Kepler, RF
Miguel Sano, 1B
Eddie Rosario, DH
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Byron Buxton, CF
Robbie Grossman, LF
Jason Castro, C
Ehire Adrianza, SS

Taylor Rogers, LHP


Sean Rodriguez, 2B
Starling Marte, CF
Gregory Polanco, RF
Josh Bell, DH
Corey Dickerson, LF
Francisco Cervelli, C
Jose Osuna, 1B
Max Moroff, SS
Eric Wood, 3B

Nick Kingham, RHP

Twins aren't worried about Trevor Hildenberger's struggles

There has been some concern about how righthander Trevor Hildenberger has struggled in camp recently. He's given up eight earned runs over his last four outings, which is a head scratcher considering how he was rarely overmatched when called up last year.

But the process is at work here.

Hildenbereger's equalizing pitch is his changeup. He can throw it to both lefthanded and righthanded hitters and, when paired with his other pitches, make him tough to square up.

But Hildenberger has not thrown the pitch much lately, opting to work on sharpening his slider. That pitch has been coming in flat lately, and he said on Sunday that he's working to give it more depth.

"I always have a good feel for my changeup," Hildenberger said. "About 95 percent of the time, it is there for me."

Hildenberger, scheduled to pitch today as the Twins play host to Philadelphia, is expected to mix in his changeup in more often as the regular season nears.

The Twins are expected to make some cuts today. So far, righthander Miles Jaye looks to be the only player who has been told, as his locker has been cleaned out, nameplate removed and his pitching results have been taken out of the game notes. There was a team meeting going on at the time of this writing, so more players could be sent down the road pretty soon.

Lance Lynn os pitching in a minor league game today. Eddie Rosario also is down the street, playing left field for the first time since early March.

Tyler Kinley is not scheduled to pitch today, but his quest to make the team as a Rule 5 pick remains alive and well. With CBO Derek Falvey in attendance, Kinley threw a scoreless inning on Friday against the Red Sox to strengthen his case to make the team. Kinley got his slider over the plate for strikes, which is big for him. He threw a first pitch strike to Mookie Betts then finished him off with a slider that Betts could only watch.

 Hre's the lineup for today's game against Philadephia:


Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Logan Morrison, DH
Byron Buxton, CF
Max Kepler, RF
Ehire Adrianza, 3B
Jason Castro, C
Zack Granite, LF

Jake Odorizzi, RHP

Final, 3/19 R H E
Minnesota 11-12 8 14 2
Pittsburgh 9-14 11 13 1