FORT MYERS, FLA. — The Twins have had Jorge Polanco's achy left knee examined by doctors twice this spring, Derek Falvey said Saturday, and are confident that it has healed as expected. But their caution with their second baseman, limiting his workload when he feels any discomfort in the knee, might be running into a new obstacle: the calendar.
No decision has been made yet, Falvey said. But with less than two weeks remaining before Opening Day, it's possible that Polanco might need an extra week or two in Florida to ready himself for the season while his Twins teammates start the 162-game schedule.
"We've had [Polanco's knee] looked at, to make sure we're in a good place with him, a couple of times this spring," said Falvey, the Twins president of baseball operations. "He's been slowed a little bit. Just a little. But we wanted to make absolutely certain there is nothing wrong" in the knee, which sidelined him for the final month of the 2022 season.
Polanco has experienced "normal soreness" a couple of times after taking batting practice against game-speed pitching, which is a typical first step toward playing in Grapefruit League games. Fearful of pushing him into action too soon, the Twins have yet to clear him for exhibition games — "and that's going to become an issue," Falvey said.
He said earlier in the week that the 2019 All-Star was "tracking toward Opening Day," but that presupposed Polanco playing by now. Since it hasn't happened, "we've been having some internal discussions," Falvey said, about the next step, and a decision could come soon. "Jorge has looked good in live BP, swinging the bat," he said. "There has been no setback. We're just running out of days."
Wallner, Lee sent down
Trevor Larnach homered, singled and walked on Saturday, but four Twins pitchers allowed runs to score, dooming Minnesota to a 7-4 Grapefruit League loss to Pittsburgh in Bradenton, Fla.
Larnach's homer, his second of the spring, traveled more than 400 feet and gave the Twins an early lead. But the Pirates responded with three runs off righthander Aaron Sanchez and never trailed again.
Jose Miranda provided a RBI single, while Matt Wallner and shortstop Brooks Lee — each of whom was sent to minor league camp after the game — also drove in runs for the Twins.
Neither rookie had much luck at the plate this spring — Wallner, optioned to Class AAA St. Paul, batted only .207 and Lee, who was reassigned to the minor league complex, just .189, but that wasn't the point, Falvey said.
"I told Brooks when he got here, you could hit .300, .150, .900, it won't matter," Falvey said. "The goal for you in this camp is to get to know Carlos [Correa], get to know good major-league routines, get around this environment and figure out how you can grow and learn to become that sort of player down the line," Falvey said. "And he's been great."
Byron Buxton bounced a one-hopper off the fence in left-center for a double, lined a pair of singles, and drew a walk in four plate appearances during a minor league game against Boston's Class AAA team at the Twins' complex.
Correa grounded out twice and struck out in the same game, while Alex Kirilloff walked and popped out in two chances. Kirilloff was the only one of the three to play the field, manning first base for four innings and helping Class AA righthander David Festa complete a pickoff with a quick tag.