After sitting out what ended up being a disastrous West Coast road trip, Andrelton Simmons will rejoin the Twins on the road for the Cleveland series that starts Monday.
The shortstop has already began the return process from the COVID-19 injury list, which he entered April 16 after declining a vaccine and testing positive. While he had minor symptoms, he still has to undergo cardiac testing and gain other such approval before suiting up for the Twins again, though that could come sometime in the next three days.
Manager Rocco Baldelli said Simmons has been with the team and going through some light workouts after his 10-day isolation.
"More than anything, we need his body to start moving again, sweating, getting him in the weight room, having him throw some balls, go hit in the cage, things like that," Baldelli said. "And after being down for a period of time, that's the No. 1 thing we have to do before anything else. I'll be honest, I'm not super concerned with live ABs with him right now. He has really good hand-eye coordination. He's not a guy who's going to take an incredibly long time."
Baldelli said Simmons would continue to condition Sunday and do an on-field workout Monday. His comeback could help tamp down on some uncharacteristic infield errors the Twins have been prone to during his absence.
"We know what kind of defender he is. We've talked about this a lot, but you really see it just in the way you function, just in the way we communicate in the infield and work through things," Baldelli said. "That's a big part of bringing an infield together and having success and, frankly, just making plays. Being prepared for things before they happen. That's something he's really good at."
Jeffers endures through foul tips
Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers has become known for his low stance, where he forgoes crouching to instead bend one knee on the ground and extend his other leg away from the plate.
The benefits are better framing and blocking ability for the 6-4 Jeffers. The drawbacks are that it leave him vulnerable to some gnarly foul tips, as was the case at Oakland last week.
"My wife always tells me I've got to find some new pads," Jeffers said. "Those shin guards are meant for catchers who catch the old-school, old-fashioned way. They're protecting places that I don't really ever get hit anymore."
Jeffers could have easily blamed the red cut on the bridge of his nose Sunday to an in-game casualty. But he instead admitted it came a couple days ago from walking into a metal bar in the weight room.
"It's a sacrifice we take. Some days, I take a beating. But it's kind of the name of the game back there," he said of his on- and off-field injuries. "If I'm a catcher, I'm signing up to wear a couple of foul balls once in a while."
Kirilloff still hitless
In 14 MLB at-bats this season, Alex Kirilloff is still without a hit.
Not for wont of trying, though. His four at-bats Sunday were mostly hard-hit balls. They just happened to aim right at fielders.
"The days of showing up to the big leagues and the other team going out there and saying, 'Hey, we're going to challenge this kid with a few fastballs, and we're going to see what he can do,' I think those days are by us," Baldelli said. "He walks out there, and I don't know, he saw 10 or 15 offspeed pitches in a row to start his career. I don't think I've ever seen that, to be honest, in baseball. It is challenging."
Baldelli said rookies do often want the first hit out of the way sooner rather than later, but for Kirilloff it's been five games already. He will have some more opportunities on the road, though, as he continues to fill in.
"He seems like an unbelievable talent," pitcher Matt Shoemaker said of Kirilloff. "He'll keep swinging the bat."