The Twins' 2023 season is being hamstrung by hamstrings, and other ailing body parts.
Joey Gallo runs to first base … and grabs his leg.
Byron Buxton slides into second … and massages his knee.
Carlos Correa runs hard and turns left … and winds up with a sore heel and plantar fasciitis.
Max Kepler shows up at spring training looking like a lion, and heads to the injured list like a lamb.
Jorge Polanco spends an extra three weeks at the Twins' spring training site to get healthy … and three weeks later is on the injured list.
The Twins were a good team in 2022 until injuries winnowed their pitching staff and scythed through their lineup. So they changed trainers, reflected on their philosophies and now are seeing their 2023 chances damaged by a similar spate of ailments.
Here's the strangest aspect of the Twins' physical problems: The better-trained and harder-working the modern baseball player is, the more susceptible he seems to injury.
"It's just part of the wear and tear of everything you have to go through as a baseball player right now,'' Correa said. "It's not like you can take all that stuff anymore. You have to go with what is NSF-approved. There's no greenies, none of that stuff that was used back then. So we take vitamin C or vitamin D and go out there and abuse our bodies every day.
"Our bodies are not designed to swing as much as we do, to rotate as fast as we do, to be on our feet for 10 hours a day. It's just part of the game. At the same time, we have to condition our bodies to withstand that.''
The NSF is the National Safety Foundation. Major League Baseball allows players to consume only that which has been approved by the NSF Certified For Sport program. "Greenies'' were the amphetamines that players routinely took years ago.
The median modern baseball player works out year-round and invests time, energy and money in becoming as explosive as possible.
The problem, for these players, is staying on the field. The season hasn't reached June and already the Twins have had players miss time at these positions: pitcher, catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, DH and all over the outfield. The Twins have yet to play Buxton in center field, even though he is the best in the game.
"Freak accidents always happen,'' Correa said. "Like what happened to me. I was just stepping on the bag and hit it in a weird way. I'm just glad it's not an IL [injury list] stint. It just requires a couple of days to rest my body and I'll be back out there.''
Correa works out virtually every day of the season. You could grate cheese on his abs.
Buxton has always been lean and athletic. Now he looks like a Greek statue — if statues could outrun a light rail train.
Modern baseball injuries might be a problem that is unsolvable. You can't ask players not to train hard, or to care about explosiveness, but the harder they train, the more brittle they seem.
"Guys now are more in tune with their bodies, and if something doesn't feel right, they take note,'' said Twins infielder Kyle Farmer. "You need to be able to play with some nicks, but they're not going to put you out there if you're hurting.
"The league has gotten a lot younger and way more athletic. For older guys now, the only way to keep up with younger guys is to be in the best shape of your life.''
Kirby Puckett never worked out in the offseason until his last offseason, and he never went on the disabled list until he was diagnosed with glaucoma. Bert Blyleven believed in running and throwing, then running some more, and he was one of the most durable and productive pitchers ever.
Eddie Guardado and LaTroy Hawkins saw their careers take off after they decided to throw daily, instead of babying their arms between bullpen sessions.
Modern players might be more durable if they rested more in the offseason and stuck to baseball activities during the season. But that's not the path to explosiveness, and explosiveness is their goal.