MILWAUKEE — Josh Donaldson spent more than two hours of the Twins' off day Friday at American Family Field, trying to find a way to spend more than the five minutes he spent there during the Twins' 2021 opener. He performed isometric exercises, stretched his sore right hamstring, and played catch on the field.
It wasn't enough.
"He can actually move around reasonably fine," manager Rocco Baldelli said of the third baseman. "But as far as explosive movements, that's probably a different story."
That realization prompted the Twins to place Donaldson on the injured list Saturday and call up outfielder Brent Rooker from the taxi squad.
"It is definitely frustrating," said Donaldson, who suffered the injury as he rounded first base while running out a double in the first inning of the Twins' first game of the season. But the 2015 AL MVP, who missed 32 of the Twins' 60 regular season games in 2020 because of lingering calf strains, said he expects the healing process to be much quicker this time.
"I can't honestly remember the last time I had to miss [games] for a hamstring [injury]. We're very optimistic at how well I've responded to this point," Donaldson said. "I don't think it's going to take as many of the 10 days as necessary, barring any type of setback in the rehab process."
Baldelli, too, said "we're not sitting here thinking he's going to miss a lot of time because of this. Hopefully, he'll be on his feet in a few days and able to test it out fairly soon."
Of course, the Twins never thought Donaldson's calf injury would linger as long as it did last year, either. So as glad as he is that it's Donaldson's right hamstring, and not a calf, that is sore, "we're not going to rush this," the manager said.
In the meantime, Luis Arraez, who started at Donaldson's position on Saturday, will play "a bunch of third base," Baldelli said, but "we could see [Willians] Astudillo over at third base, too. We could see [Miguel] Sano over at third base. … The possibilities are endless."
As for Rooker …
Rooker lost a battle for the final outfield roster spot to Kyle Garlick last week, but now joins the team before Garlick has even gotten to play a position. So how does this change Baldelli's plans for the outfield?
Too early to tell, he said.
"We're going to wait. … Kyle and Rook can both help us when we face lefties, and we're going to have a handful of them coming up," said Baldelli, who sent Jake Cave, a left-handed hitter, to left field on Saturday. "That's when you'll probably see them the most. But they could end up in any of those games."
Baldelli expressed his support for Major League Baseball's decision to move the All-Star Game out of suburban Atlanta this summer, saying "it's MLB trying to do what they believe is right."
The move was triggered by the passage and enactment of an election law in Georgia, and while Baldelli said that "I'm not going to sit here and pretend to be an expert on election legislation," he added that "looking at it, there does appear to be a big difference between making sure voter rolls are up to date, and what's in this law. … This [law] is something that appears to be aimed at accomplishing certain things, and those things don't just appear to be holding free and fair elections."
Rare evening affair
Saturday's game is the only night game on the Twins' schedule until April 16 in Anaheim, with a rare stretch of 11 consecutive day games about to start.
Baldelli said he and his staff have been reminding the players of that for weeks.
"Staying on an early schedule [will] be very important. The last thing we want to do is start becoming night owls and living the normal routine that we do during the season," in which most weekday games are played under the lights. "Putting that thought in our players' heads was important."