The Twins played the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon, then flew to California to begin a weeklong road trip. Both of those activities were in some doubt earlier in a stressful day.
As a result of the positive COVID-19 test by shortstop Andrelton Simmons earlier in the week, the Twins have added extra precautions, including additional testing, to their game preparations, particularly on a day when they were going to be confined together on a plane for more than four hours. And at least one of those tests came up positive.
That set off an even more stringent round of protocols, including confining a member of the staff to quarantine, and more testing to confirm the diagnosis. At least for a while, postponing Thursday's game and even the weekend series in Anaheim could not be ruled out. Two weeks ago, a series between the Nationals and Mets was postponed when four Washington players tested positive.
But after a morning of uncertainty, the result was determined to be a false positive. No other Twins were found to be infected, and subsequent tests on the quarantined person came up negative.
"It was a difficult morning because there's uncertainty, and we're all used to dealing with this new reality we're in," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of a morning spent scrambling to find out who had been cleared. "There's really nothing you can do to help the situation, as you kind of sit there in limbo and when you get test results that are not exactly what you're looking to see. You end up just kind of sitting and waiting."
Ultimately, though, the game went on, the Twins won, and their flight departed — with a full roster. Well, minus Simmons, who must remain in quarantine until the team returns.
"We should be clear, and everyone is safe and negative from COVID," Baldelli said. "You can't completely relax. You have to stay vigilant and aware of everything that you're doing at all times. We need to get through this week or two and make sure we don't have anything mushrooming up."
The COVID scare had nothing to do with the absence of Josh Donaldson and Byron Buxton from the Twins lineup, Baldelli said.
Donaldson returned Wednesday from two weeks on the injured list because of a hamstring strain, and the Twins are reluctant to risk re-injury by playing him too much right away. Especially since Donaldson aggressively raced from first to third on a single, tagged up and ran home on a sacrifice fly, and slid to break up a double play in his first game back.
"He was going to take [Thursday off] and then he'll be ready to go when we get out to the West Coast," Baldelli said. He'll be "prepared to play hopefully more than one game in a row."
Buxton's case is less clear. The outfielder played Tuesday, but sat out both games Wednesday with what Baldelli described as a mild hamstring strain. There's no indication he is headed to the injured list, but "we're going to continue to assess him and see if he's going to be ready in the next day or two," the manager said.
Shuttling to St. Paul
Cody Stashak faced three batters in this series and struck out all three, and now owns 12 whiffs in five innings this season. But he had pitched three times in a four-day span, and that's a heavy workload in this pandemic season.
So Stashak was sent to the Twins' alternate site in St. Paul before Thursday's game, and former Giants righthander Shaun Anderson, acquired in a trade last February for LaMonte Wade Jr., was recalled.
Stashak "was going to be down for a little while," Baldelli said, so the Twins decided to add a pitcher with a fresh arm.
Anderson didn't get into Thursday's game, though, and he won't have a chance to pitch on the road trip, either. The Twins sent him back to St. Paul after the game, and on Friday will replace him with lefthander Lewis Thorpe, who will make his first start of the season that night.
•The Twins' habit of giving Kenta Maeda an extra day off whenever possible, which more closely resembles what he was used to in Japan, will come into play again next week. Jose Berrios, who has followed Maeda in the rotation the first three times through, will likely start Monday's game in Oakland, with Maeda moving back to Tuesday, Baldelli said.