ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Cole Sands' heart was racing Friday. But it wasn't necessarily from the excitement of earning his first major league callup.

"They were like, 'Listen, you've got to get to the airport. Your flight's at 6,'" Sands recalled Saturday of the 2 p.m. Friday meeting in St. Paul when he learned he was heading to meet the Twins in Tampa Bay. "I'm trying to scramble. I didn't have any clothes. I had to get back to the apartment, I'm staying near Target Field. So I had a 20-minute drive there. I was rushing a little bit.

"… I ended up making it, little bit of time to spare."

In fact, he even made use of his scheduled bullpen session before joining the Twins for their three-game series against Tampa Bay. He did not play Saturday but could make his big-league debut Sunday in the series finale.

The Twins picked the 24-year-old in the fifth round of the 2018 draft out of Florida State. He pitched in the system in 2019 before the pandemic canceled the 2020 season. He spent 2021 with Class AA Wichita, making 18 starts with a 2.46 ERA, but missed time with an elbow injury.

With Class AAA St. Paul this season, he has appeared in four games with three starts and has a 7.82 ERA.

"When I got drafted, I had mainly just fastball-changeup," Sands said. "I could spin the ball. I just didn't know what shape and kind of how to do it. So I've kind of been focusing on a curveball the past few years, and that's helped me a lot, actually, kind of helped put guys away. This year in spring training, we started to work on a tighter slider, cut slider, I guess, some would say. It's still very new to me, but I'm getting closer."

Sands is a Tallahassee, Fla., native and had a big family presence Saturday at Tropicana Field. Although he grew up about four hours away, he went to only one Rays game as a kid, since he was more of a Braves fan.

"You work your whole lifetime for this," Sands said. "… It's just crazy to even think that you can make it this far sometimes. I remember as a kid just hoping to play in college. Next thing you know, I'm in college and want to play professionally. Next thing you know, I'm a big-leaguer. So it's pretty cool."

Ober to IL

The Twins placed Bailey Ober on the 10-day injured list with a right groin strain, which prompted Sands' callup. With Ober out and Josh Winder sliding into the starting rotation, Sands will backfill Winder's long reliever spot.

Winder will make his first career start Sunday, pushing Chris Paddack back to Monday in Baltimore. Joe Ryan and Dylan Bundy will take the next two games, with Thursday's finale against the Orioles still to be determined.

Ober, who left Thursday's game early with the injury, said he is optimistic about not staying out for long, even though this is his first experience with a soft-tissue injury. He has still been throwing but hasn't involved his lower body much.

"It's always tough, especially when you deal with injuries that kind of make you pause and take a step back," Ober said. "But right now, I'm just trying to focus on the day that's at hand and just try to make sure everything's right. There's so much I can do to prepare. I'm not looking forward too much for the next start."

Fellow starter Sonny Gray might be coming off the IL soon, should his rehab start Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla., go well.

COVID continues

The Twins reverted to 2020 in some ways Saturday, after potential COVID-19 exposure. The Rays had a few members of their staff test positive after Friday's game. And in an abundance of caution, Baldelli did his media sessions on Zoom. Baldelli and Archer, former Rays, both spent time Friday reconnecting with Rays personnel.

Baldelli said no Twins had showed any symptoms yet.

"We're indoors for the entire day here at Tropicana Field. Obviously, there is some sickness in the air here on the other side of the field, and we would really like to avoid being kind of engaged and up close with any of that if we can help it," Baldelli said. "I love coming here, but right now, I think we're trying to get through the trip and win a couple of games from here on out and get on the plane and hopefully stay healthy."