Dining out and whole-team clubhouse video sessions aren't quite in the Twins' grasp.
Yet, at least.
The organization offered postgame vaccinations after Thursday's home opener, allowing for Friday's scheduled off day as a side-effects buffer. But the team didn't quite reach the 85% threshold that would allow for relaxed COVID-19 protocols.
"We're actually pretty close to 85 percent. The original estimate or head count had us believing that we weren't going to be too close to that number, but we ultimately did get to a good spot," manager Rocco Baldelli said Saturday. "And I believe there are a few guys that may actually make a decision on it. I think there were some people that maybe were not comfortable doing it two days ago but may get to that point after more discussion and contemplation."
The Twins shared photos on social media of several pokes in the arm, including Baldelli, Nelson Cruz, Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers and Mitch Garver.
Baldelli said most of the team experienced minor side effects from the single Johnson & Johnson dose, including headaches and body aches. Only one player had a bit of a tougher time, though everyone was feeling better by Saturday.
"Shot didn't hurt too bad," outfielder Kyle Garlick said. "Shoulder was kind of a little achy [Friday]. Body felt off a little bit. But woke up this [Saturday] morning and felt 100 percent."
Should some of the unvaccinated personnel change their minds, Baldelli said the team will work to offer them the vaccine at Target Field again.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson landed on the 10-day injured list after straining his right hamstring on Opening Day. His return could be imminent Monday, but some time at CHS Field might be the final step in his recovery process.
"Just this morning he was out on the field. He got loose, ran sprints, ran the bases. I thought he looked very good," Baldelli said. "… I believe he's taking some ground balls, too. He's going to hit some BP. We're going to get him over to St. Paul to get a few at-bats. Hopefully we continue to build and go in the direction we're shooting."
Baldelli added he could envision Donaldson back sometime early this week, though these muscle injuries can be tough to predict. President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said on Thursday that Donaldson has maintained an even keel mentally despite starting the season in less than ideal fashion.
"For whatever reason, we've seen a few more across baseball in the last few days at least of similar types of muscle issues," Falvey said. "But I will just say, for Josh, he knows his body. He knows how to be prepared. He knows how to get in and get his treatment. Because this one has seemed like, hopefully, it's tracked so far to seem like something that's pretty minor, we just want to make sure that we get ahead of it and not let this linger through the course of the season."
No Garver at leadoff
Recent Twins history has shown a bit of perplexing luck against lefthanded pitchers. In 2019, no lefty stood a chance against the Bomba Squad. That wasn't the case in 2020, when the Twins went 9-7 in games started by lefthanders.
With Seattle starting lefthander Marco Gonzales on Thursday, the Twins accrued 16 hits and three homers, including one from catcher Mitch Garver. Yet Garver remained fifth in the batting order Saturday against another Mariners lefty, Yusei Kikuchi.
"Garv had a great day the other day. He was hitting fifth in our lineup. We don't make all of our decisions based on these types of things, but they are factors," Baldelli said of Garver not assuming the leadoff role. "At these home games, they are tough for Garv's first at-bat to run out there and try to get in the dugout and take all his gear off and run up there and hit to begin the game for us. It's not the easiest thing to do, and it's kind of a pain and doesn't really allow him to prepare for his first at-bat very well."
In four at-bats in the 4-3 loss to the Mariners in 10 innings Saturday, Garver went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, leaving five on base. Jorge Polanco led off but fared no better, going 0-for-5.