FORT MYERS, FLA. – Only three days into spring workouts, the Twins are already thinking about days off. Actually, they have been for years.
The Twins this season are experimenting with a new system to track and manage players’ workloads, in hopes of reducing the number of soft-tissue injuries — oblique strains, hamstring pulls, ligament tears — they suffer each season.
“We’ve been discussing this for a few years, and last year, we started putting it in motion, just to see if we could identify factors that might be the best indicators of injury risk,” said Dave Pruemer, the Twins head athletic trainer. “We tracked it all year. At the end of the season we mapped it out, and you could see some pretty clear correlation between all the stresses of playing every day and some of the injuries.”
The system was relatively simple last year, Pruemer said; the training staff just counted how often players took batting practice, or played in a game, or put in extra work before games, then added them up in seven-day increments. Now that they’re convinced that some injuries might be somewhat predictable, they plan to refine the system this year, giving each burst of activity (and even a few others, like late-night travel, pitching long innings or doing extra running) a rating on the 1-8 scouting scale.
The idea is to more precisely identify when players are particularly susceptible to nagging injuries, so manager Paul Molitor can hold players out of spring training drills, regular season batting practice, or even games.
“It’s not perfect, but it looks like useful information,” Pruemer said.
• Infielders Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano took part in their first informal workouts on Friday, meaning the Twins roster is nearly complete. Only minor league invitee Drew Stubbs has yet to check in, and he will be in camp when players officially report Saturday.
• The foursome of J.B. Shuck, Dan Rohlfing, Chris Gimenez and minor league coach Scott Singleton, last-minute entrants in the Twins’ annual charity golf event, shot a 15-under 57 in the scramble format and won a $250 pro-shop gift card. “We got on them a little bit this morning,” Molitor said, because they were allowed to play as a group rather than with amateurs, as their teammates did.”
• When asked about the team’s Opening Day starter on Friday, Molitor didn’t say “Ervin Santana.” He didn’t have to. “I think it’s a fairly obvious choice at this juncture,” he said.
2016 stats: 7-15, 5.92 ERA in 28 starts for Class AAA Iowa (Cubs).
Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent in December.
Role: He will get a look as bullpen help but likely is headed to the rotation at Class AAA Rochester.
Did you know: He was teammates with a pair of fellow Twins minor league invitees — pitcher Alex Wimmers and outfielder J.B. Shuck — at Ohio State in 2007-08 but was not drafted. He has played in seven MLB games with the Angels.
La Velle E. Neal III