When Miguel Sano cracked a second-inning double down the left-field line in the home opener against the Cardinals on Tuesday, it might have provided a bit of relief for the Twins about the status of their only player known to have come down with COVID-19.
Sano missed nearly two weeks of training camp, and though he reported no symptoms of coronavirus while he was out, and had looked healthy once he returned, he also had only a week to regain his timing at the plate, all while adjusting to a new position in the field. So it was difficult to tell whether his 0-for-8 start in Chicago — he’s now 1-for-14 (.071) with six strikeouts after Wednesday — was anything more than two quiet days.
“It’s getting there. He’s hit some balls very hard,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of his new first baseman. “He’s going to need some at-bats before, I’m sure, he looks at all of us and says, ‘Now I’m all the way back. Now I’m 100 percent, timing-wise, and feeling good at the plate.’ But that being said, he had good at-bats.”
One thing Baldelli said he’s definitely not worried about is Sano’s physical condition. “He’s in good shape. One amazing thing about Miguel, even though the COVID issues and everything, his body does hold up as well as anyone we have,” the manager said. “He’s a big guy [who] has dealt with some injuries. But as far as the way he holds up day to day to the baseball schedule, watching him out there when it’s 95 degrees outside, he holds up as well as anyone.”
Lewis Thorpe has recovered from the bruised left knee he suffered Sunday in Chicago, and said he is ready to pitch again. Thorpe was hit by a Jose Abreu ground ball that “got me in the right spot, and it just locked up,” Thorpe said, and was bruised afterward. “It hit me in a weird spot, to where I really couldn’t push off on it, so that was concerning.” He left the game but said the limp was gone by Tuesday, and he was available again to pitch.
Thorpe said he is enjoying having fellow Australian Aaron Whitefield as a teammate. “It’s awesome. We have a bit of banter going back and forth, and I’m making him feel comfortable here,” Thorpe said of the rookie outfielder. “All of Australia back home is really proud of us,” he said, as evidenced by the deluge of text messages he and Whitefield receive daily.
Support for Floyd
Baldelli said the Twins’ midgame interruption Tuesday at the symbolic hour of 8:46 p.m. to memorialize George Floyd “was a great moment,” one he believes fulfills the Twins’ obligation to lead.
“Being in Minneapolis … I do feel like we should be ambassadors in some way for baseball,” Baldelli said. “This is something we wanted to make sure we did right. We made it a point to make a meaningful acknowledgment and to share our feelings and our thoughts, and we’ve encouraged every one of our guys to express themselves.”
A sign on the right field wall reads “Justice for George Floyd,” one of the many ways the Twins have noted his death.
“We discussed many initiatives, many different ways to show our support for George Floyd’s family, for the community. For the most part, we said, ‘We should do them all,’ and take this opportunity to make this a very meaningful one for our group and for the Twins,” Baldelli said. “There’s only so many times where you have a platform to bring something to somebody’s attention, to bring it to the fans, to bring it to the community. This is one of those times.”
Fans to get face time
The Twins originally didn’t plan to sell “seats” to fans behind home plate, choosing instead to fill the spaces with large cardboard-cutout heads of several dozen of their greatest players. But they’ve changed that policy, now that TV viewers have seen the big faces during broadcasts.
Beginning with the next homestand on Aug. 14, the 30-inch faces will be interspersed with those of fans, who can pay $80 (or $40 for season-ticket holders) to be included, and afterward keep the giant likeness as a souvenir. More information is available at twinsbaseball.com/fanface.
• Jake Odorizzi, on the injured list because of a sore back, was scheduled to throw a bullpen Wednesday or Thursday, but Baldelli and pitching coach Wes Johnson have not yet decided whether the righthander will make his 2020 debut during this homestand.