Miguel Sano, the Twins’ All-Star slugger, will miss the beginning of summer training camp after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, the team revealed Saturday.
Sano is the player that President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey declined to identify Friday in announcing that two Twins major leaguers — utility player Willians Astudillo is the other one — had been flagged in the first round of viral tests upon arriving in the Twin Cities this past week. Neither player has exhibited COVID symptoms, the team said, but will remain in quarantine for several days until they test negative at least twice.
“Our guys that aren’t here are disappointed. Both have worked really hard. They’re ready to get on the field,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “They know their buddies are out here and taking part. But we basically just have to deal with this, and we have to do it responsibly.”
A handful of other Twins players were held out of workouts Friday after informing the team they had been in proximity to others who had been infected, but they took part Saturday after being cleared by subsequent tests.
Sano is one of 31 major league players to test positive for the virus as camps open this weekend. He is also one of six former All-Stars, along with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon, Kansas City’s Salvador Perez, the Yankees’ D.J. LeMahieu and Atlanta’s Will Smith and Freddie Freeman, to have tested positive. He, Astudillo and a pair of minor leaguers, infielder Nick Gordon and righthander Edwar Colina, are all missing from Twins camp as they recover.
The entire Twins roster and staff, roughly 130 people in all, will undergo their second scheduled coronavirus test Sunday.
No change in goal
Baldelli delivered his second let’s-get-to-work address of 2020 to his team Saturday, and unlike his exhortation in Fort Myers in February, this time he didn’t invoke the World Series.
He didn’t have to, he said.
“I think that’s something that is in everyone’s head [already]. That’s probably something you have to hear once and then you don’t have to talk about it anymore,” Baldelli said of his lofty goals for a team that won 101 games in 2019. “It’s something you have to go and do. You have to go and accomplish that. … I’m sure that hasn’t slipped anybody’s mind.”
Instead, Baldelli preached a message of accountability, of remembering how many people’s accomplishments are necessary to reach any goals. Like that unmentioned one in October.
“We tried to come in with an optimistic tone. We have a team that’s built for dealing with adversity. We have a team that prepares and is disciplined and can handle change pretty well, and we talked about that a little bit,” Baldelli said. “A big part of that is obviously respecting everybody around you and taking care of the people around you. … Every individual has to take care of the person next to him.”
He also introduced new bullpen coach Pete Maki, who is filling in for Bob McClure, sidelined by the team as a COVID precaution.
Nelson Cruz also addressed the team, which sat socially distanced in the Target Field outfield, before the Twins began their second summer workout, Baldelli said.
“He told all our guys that we have no excuses. We’re going to go out there and we’re going to prepare and do our jobs,” Baldelli said. “We could look at this basically pessimistically, but we’re not going to. We’re going to look at this in the most optimistic way that we can.”
The St. Paul squad
The Twins’ taxi squad, a group of roughly 15 players who will work out in order to remain available if needed during the season, will hold their first workout Sunday at CHS Field in St. Paul.
Baldelli will address them Sunday morning, too, before the group, which includes former first-round picks Royce Lewis, Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff, takes batting practice and does fielding drills.
The St. Paul camp will be under the direction of minor league pitching coordinator J.P. Martinez, Baldelli said, and some players and coaches might rotate over to Target Field as needed.
Speed on delivery
Byron Buxton could report to camp as soon as Sunday after the birth of his second son Friday, Baldelli said. Buxton, perhaps MLB’s fastest player, and his wife, Lindsey, named their new child Blaze Jett Buxton.
“I love it, and it’s probably going to be very appropriate,” Baldelli said with a laugh. “I can’t wait to watch him run.”