Jorge Polanco played 55 of the Twins’ 60 games this season, but there’s a pattern to his play. He hit his final home run on Sept. 4. He had three doubles in all of September. And he batted .176 after Labor Day, with only one RBI.
It’s no surprise, then, that the Twins believe their shortstop may need ankle surgery for a second straight winter.
“Jorge would never complain. He went out and played every day. But his [right] ankle was definitely something he was playing through, that was pretty clear,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Thursday. Polanco underwent surgery to remove a bone spur in that ankle last November, “but we need to assess whether or not there is something else going on there that we need to address.”
Does that mean more surgery? “I wouldn’t rule it out,” Falvey said.
Other Twins players may need some offseason procedures, too, Falvey said in a season wrapup video conference with reporters, more than people outside the team realize. But for now, he said, Luis Arraez, who played most of the season with knee tendinitis that noticeably affected his running ability, is not on that list.
“I don’t think we have any plan right now with Luis that would require any type of surgical intervention,” Falvey said, though he’ll be evaluated again before leaving for his offseason home. The Twins hope that four months of rest will take care of the problem.
Brent Rooker, whose right forearm was broken when he was hit by a pitch on Sept. 12, has already had his surgery, Falvey said, and the rookie outfielder, who batted .316 in a seven-game debut, should be ready for spring training.
The major league Twins have finished playing in 2020, but some future Twins have not. The franchise last week opened a fall camp at its Fort Myers, Fla., training site, in an effort to work with dozens of minor league players whose season was canceled.
Players reported to camp last week for COVID screening, and they have now begun regular workouts, Falvey said.
“We’re going to do a lot of development work with the players, some of whom were in St. Paul [as part of the Twins’ expanded roster], but a lot of those who weren’t,” Falvey said. “Guys that didn’t get a chance to play much this year, there will be intrasquad [games],” and perhaps a few games with Red Sox prospects, who train about five miles away.
The camp will last throughout October, he said.
Among the first decisions that Falvey, General Manager Thad Levine, and manager Rocco Baldelli must make is who will be on next season’s coaching staff.
“We have every expectation that this group will be back,” Falvey said, but even that declaration is trickier than normal. In addition to dealing with contracts and inquiries from other teams who may want to hire Twins employees, there’s the matter of having one more coach than allowed.
That’s because bullpen coach Bob McClure and major league coach Bill Evers, both in their 60s, were excluded from this year’s staff when the season finally began in July, in order to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. Minor league pitching coordinator Pete Maki stepped in to replace McClure, but Evers’ spot was not filled.
Baldelli said he conferred via text and e-mail with both coaches during the season, and considers them part of the team. “I know Rocco wants to have conversations with [McClure and Evers] about” how they feel about returning, Falvey said. “I feel really good about our staff, and I’m hopeful we have all these guys a part of it.”
Poppen lost to Bucs
The first roster move of the offseason took place Thursday, when the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed righthander Sean Poppen off waivers.
The Twins designated Poppen, a 26-year-old righthander, for assignment on Tuesday when they promoted outfielder Alex Kirilloff to the major league roster. Poppen, drafted out of Harvard in the 16th round in 2016, appeared in six games this season, posting a 4.70 ERA in 7 ⅔ innings, while striking out 10.