Ryan Jeffers underwent a minor procedure to remove "loose bodies" from his throwing elbow, the Twins announced Tuesday, but manager Rocco Baldelli said the rookie catcher is "essentially back to normal already."
In fact, the manager said, "it's been a good health-related offseason" for each of the Twins who were injured at the end of the 2020 season. Shortstop Jorge Polanco underwent surgery on his right ankle for a second straight offseason in October but now "is getting all of his [workouts] in daily and he's doing great," Baldelli said on a video news conference. Outfielder Brent Rooker's fractured right forearm has healed as well, he said.
And third baseman Josh Donaldson, who missed August because of a strained calf that also caused him to sit out the Twins' brief playoff appearance, is healthy again and has discussed with his manager strategies to keep the injury from recurring in 2021.
That could mean serving as a designated hitter occasionally, especially early in the season, Baldelli said.
"There could be a combination of J.D. going out there and playing, having some selective days off, maybe a few more being early in the year, and maybe some DH at-bats as well," said Baldelli, who spoke to Donaldson about the possibility on Monday. "I would have no concern following through on a play like that. … You're going to have to go down these roads and be open-minded."
Evers will return
Bill Evers, one of two coaches on Baldelli's staff who was sidelined last season out of COVID-19 concerns, will be back in the dugout in 2021, but bullpen coach Bob McClure will not.
"This was a hard year for both Bill and Mac, and for everyone, to lose them," Baldelli said. Evers, who turns 67 next month, "is excited to get back to work. I think he enjoyed being able to comfortably and safely enjoy his time with his family this season, but he's looking forward to getting back on the field as well."
McClure, 68, will return to a special assistant role working with Twins minor league pitchers, the same responsibility he held before joining Baldelli's staff last spring. Pete Maki, who filled in for McClure during last summer's 60-game season, will remain as bullpen coach.
About Eddie ...
It's too early to tell how the Twins will replace Eddie Rosario in left field, Baldelli said, but he expressed confidence in the options already on the roster — especially top prospects Alex Kirilloff, Rooker and Trevor Larnach.
"These guys can simply just hit, and they're strong. They drive the ball," Baldelli said of the former first-round draft picks. "Both of these guys are going to be huge factors going forward."
Kirilloff made his major league debut in Game 2 of the AL wild-card series, the Twins' final game of the 2020 season, and went 1-for-4. Like Larnach, Kirilloff spent nine weeks at CHS Field in St. Paul, working out and staying ready in case they were called up, but with the minor league season canceled, they essentially were idled all year.
"I don't think that matters with these two," Baldelli said. "I think they truly are either prepared at this moment or will be very soon to impact us at the big-league level."
Rooker is another option. He played seven games in September with the Twins while right fielder Max Kepler was injured but was primarily a left fielder throughout his minor league career.
Baldelli also said he has confidence in Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade to fill the vacancy created when the Twins, fearing an arbitration salary of $10 million or more, chose not to offer Rosario a contract last month.
The possibility of signing a free-agent outfielder is being considered as well.