Alex Kirilloff's return to the Twins ended up being a brief one. The 24-year-old returned to Class AAA St. Paul after only five games back in the majors.
Kirilloff started the season with the Twins but played only five games before going on the injured list because of a persistent right wrist injury. He had season-ending surgery for it last year but hadn't ever been pain-free since.
He took some time off and checked in with his surgeon again, ultimately having another cortisone shot to help with the discomfort. He started a rehab stint with the Saints on April 26, playing seven games there before he was activated May 6, needed by the Twins because of a rash of injuries.
He was 4-for-12 since rejoining the Twins, playing first base, left field and a bit of right field. But when Dylan Bundy couldn't make his scheduled start Saturday as he continues to recover from COVID-19, the Twins had to bring up Devin Smeltzer to start instead. And Kirilloff was sent down to make room on the active roster.
"I would look at this as an opportunity for him to go play every day, get at-bats every day," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Right now, he wasn't going to be playing every day. He probably would have been in a rotation of some kind. But I don't think the best thing for him is to be in a rotation right now. He's healthy. He's in a good spot physically. But hitting, just getting to the plate and figuring that out, that's going to happen with at-bats."
Baldelli added that Kirilloff is medically OK but just needs some more time to hone his swing and timing as he learns how to play through his wrist issue.
The Twins also needed to make room for Smeltzer on the 40-man roster; they did that by transferring Miguel Sano to the 60-day injured list. The first baseman recently had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Baldelli said between the recovery from the operation and needing a rehab assignment before his return, Sano was going to be out for close to 60 days anyway.
Without Sano and Kirilloff, first base has turned into a bit of a rotation between Jose Miranda and Luis Arraez, though Baldelli said third baseman Gio Urshela and catcher Gary Sanchez can also start there in a pinch.
Ober, Garlick with Saints
Bailey Ober was to start for the St. Paul Saints on Saturday night at Columbus on a rehab assignment as he works his way back from a right groin strain — except the game was rained out.
He left his April 28 start early with the injury and ultimately landed on the IL.
Baldelli said before the rainout that the hope was Ober could be back with the Twins next weekend.
Kyle Garlick also was to play for the Saints again, after he homered on Friday. Baldelli said Garlick could join the Twins for the upcoming road trip to Oakland.
As Cole Sands faced Houston's Kyle Tucker in the ninth inning in Thursday's second game, the soreness in his groin began bothering him. As he threw his 27th and final pitch, striking out Tucker, "he felt it somewhat more severely," Baldelli said. "He got the strikeout while feeling [an injury]. If he didn't get the strikeout, he may have been coming out of the game" anyway.
Sands was diagnosed with a strained groin after the game, and the rookie righthander on Friday was placed on the injured list — but by the Saints, not the Twins. Normally under baseball rules, no player injured during an MLB game can be optioned to the minors, but Sands was participating as the 27th man, a special roster exemption granted teams for doubleheaders that specifically states a player must be optioned back to the minors afterward.
The difference means Sands won't collect a major league salary or service time while recovering.
"[It's] a rule I didn't know existed," Baldelli said, nor were the Twins aware that he was having trouble as he pitched, the manager added.
Staff writer Phil Miller contributed to this report.