CLEVELAND – Jorge Polanco spent two weeks on the 10-day injured list, his first time sidelined that way in his nine MLB seasons.
He'd had two offseason ankle surgeries in the past, but the second baseman has been a mainstay in the Twins lineup his whole career. And even before he made the majors, he only had one IL stint in the minor leagues.
So when lower back tightness took him away from the Twins amid a crucial series with Cleveland, the other top team in the American League Central, Polanco wasn't exactly thrilled.
"I didn't want to do it, but I did have to go to the IL," he said after the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Guardians. "It wasn't something that I was expecting."
Polanco, though, didn't find his forced absence too hard to take because he enjoyed watching his teammates play. He finally was able to join them on the field again when the Twins started him for Tuesday's second game.
He plugged right back into the offense, going 2-for-4 with a walk and three RBI, two of them coming on his eighth homer of the season in the third inning of the Twins' 6-0 victory over the Guardians.
Polanco obviously feels better, having taken 100 or so swings from each side Monday and Tuesday before the game. But he acknowledged he'll still have to be cognizant of his back.
"I'm just going to take care of it," Polanco said, "do whatever I need to make it feel good and go from there."
To make room for Polanco, the Twins optioned outfielder Mark Contreras back to Class AAA St. Paul. Contreras recorded his first MLB hit in Monday's 11-1 victory. The rookie came into the game in the eighth inning with the Twins' big lead and ended up facing Cleveland position player Ernie Clement in the ninth. His groundball single to left field came in that unique situation.
"I couldn't draw that one up. That is not how I imagined it," Contreras said of his sixth MLB game. "But it wouldn't have made sense if it didn't happen in a funny way like that. That was fun. I was smiling the whole time, throughout the whole at-bat. I'm grateful that I got that one out of the way."
Winder sent down
Josh Winder pitched six scoreless innings and gave up only four hits and one walk with one strikeout starting the 6-0 victory in the second game Tuesday. But since he was the added 27th man for the doubleheader, he immediately returned back to Class AAA St. Paul after the game.
Winder started the season as a long reliever but found his way into the starting rotation quickly because of injuries. But a right shoulder impingement put him on the IL after his last MLB start May 17, and the Twins optioned him back to St. Paul as soon as he recovered, after Devin Smeltzer solidified his spot among the starters.
"I'm not going to let that affect my preparation or anything like that," Winder said of heading back to the Saints. "I'm going out there, I'm going to be prepared, I'm going to be ready whenever my name is called and whenever I get the ball. It's kind of been my mind-set all year."
Larnach's surgery successful
Outfielder Trevor Larnach underwent a successful operation Tuesday, a bilateral repair on one of his core muscles. President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey initially gave a six-week timeline, but he corrected that Tuesday to more like six to eight weeks until a potential major league return, considering Larnach will likely need a rehab stint.