OAKLAND, CALIF. – The Twins eventually made it to the Bay Area from Southern California to start a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics.
Most of them, at least.
Three players and a nonuniformed staff member had to stay behind at an Orange County hotel after either testing positive for COVID-19 or being in close contact with a positive case in the past few days.
The team had previously identified left fielder Kyle Garlick as one of the players to test positive ahead of Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Angels. Major League Baseball eventually postponed Saturday and Sunday's games against the Angels and Monday's first game at Oakland.
Manager Rocco Baldelli announced ahead of Tuesday's doubleheader that right fielder Max Kepler was the other player to test positive Saturday, while lefthander Caleb Thielbar had to enter a seven-day quarantine as a close contact. Garlick, Kepler and the staff member are in 10 days of isolation.
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was the first player to go on the COVID-19 protocol list when he tested positive last Tuesday night before the California road trip.
"There's not a lot that anyone can really do with them for the time being," Baldelli said. "Meals will be brought to them. If they have any concern, they have contact information if, say, symptoms do get worse in any way or if they need anything. And the testing situation and the travel situation will be worked out over the next few days."
Baldelli added all of the positive people have had no worse than mild symptoms so far, including fatigue, a cough and lost sense of taste.
While the Twins returned to their every-other-day spit tests Tuesday instead of the amped-up daily spit and nasal swab tests, Baldelli was reluctant to call the team free and clear.
"You're kind of sitting there on your hands, and you're kind of stuck just at the mercy of some test results, finding out what's already been done. You can't walk those things back once you get those types of results," Baldelli said. "… Thank God we got the results that we were looking for, and hopefully, we can replicate that a few more times."
Rookie outfielder Brent Rooker, who went on the injured list April 7 because of a cervical strain in his neck, was reinstated. The Twins also recalled infielder Travis Blankenhorn and selected the contract of righthander Luke Farrell. All three had been traveling with the team in California as part of the taxi squad.
"The travel situation is difficult at times. Commercial flights are becoming a challenge for us to use as an option," Baldelli said of potentially flying more players out from the St. Paul alternate site. "We have three games in two [days] coming up. I think we have the personnel to cover everything and get everything done, and go win some games."
Lefthander Lewis Thorpe was the 27th player for Tuesday's doubleheader.
The Twins were thin in the outfield, with only Byron Buxton, Jake Cave and Rooker. Infielder Luis Arraez started in left in Game 1.
Buxton, the team's hottest hitter, hadn't played in a week because of a mild right hamstring strain. He promptly singled to right in Game 1 to extend a 10-game hitting streak, but went hitless in Game 2.
"We do think he's at the point where he can handle it and go out there and give us what we need," Baldelli said of Buxton playing two games Tuesday. "But our construction out there is going to be a little bit different this series than maybe some of the outfields that we've seen in the past."