FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins roster could be complete this weekend.
Andrelton Simmons, the free-agent shortstop signed to shore up the Twins infield defense, has arrived in Fort Myers and is in the process of completing Major League Baseball's COVID-19 protocols, manager Rocco Baldelli said Friday. Simmons could take part in his first workout with his new team this weekend.
"He's in Florida, which is fantastic," Baldelli said. "Really looking forward to seeing him just get out there, put some cleats on and run around, take some ground balls at shortstop. That's what I'm looking forward, and I think it's coming pretty soon."
Simmons, 31, had been delayed at his home in Curaçao, awaiting immigration paperwork that had been complicated by the pandemic. The four-time Gold Glove winner signed a one-year, $10.5 million contract with the Twins in January, a transaction that moves Jorge Polanco to second base.
The Twins and Red Sox informed MLB that Saturday's game at JetBlue Park will last only five innings.
It's customary for starters to play five innings in a spring training game, then for the entire lineup to be subbed out by backups. But with only 74 active players in camp and no minor league camp to draw from, Baldelli said he is concerned about overusing the same players, day after day.
"Having a day where we can get some of these guys off their feet, give them a little bit more time off and not having to bring in a full group of backup players is going to be very helpful for us," Baldelli said. "We can't just go to the minor league side to grab six to eight players who are fresh and ready to go."
It's the same reason that Baldelli inserted Frank Padulo, who compiles opposition scouting reports before each game, into Thursday's game as a final-inning pinch-runner.
Baldelli was upbeat about the pitching performance of two prospective members of the pitching rotation, especially since the Braves, a team that has won three consecutive NL East championships, used most of their starters in Friday's lineup.
Matt Shoemaker and Randy Dobnak, who could be competing for the fifth spot in the Twins rotation, each pitched 2⅓ scoreless innings — Shoemaker without allowing a baserunner, Dobnak by working out of trouble.
"Our pitchers threw the ball well against a really good offensive group on the other side," Baldelli said. "There were some real positives there, looking up and down the line."
Dobnak pitched in relief of Shoemaker, and Baldelli said he's comfortable with that potential setup, because Dobnak appears so comfortable with it.
"Dobber can seemingly handle pretty much whatever role we have for him. He does not overcomplicate things," Baldelli said. "He's very low maintenance. it doesn't take him much to get ready, get loose, get mentally prepared to pitch."
Shoemaker, who pitched two intrasquad innings last weekend to prepare for his spring debut, said he hasn't given any thought to whether he will be in the rotation once the season starts. But he made it clear what role he would prefer.
"My thought process every season is, I want to make 32 starts. … I want to go out there and throw nine innings every single game for 32 starts," said Shoemaker, who has been limited to exactly 32 starts over the past four seasons. "Obviously I know that's probably not going to happen, but that's my thought process."
• Sam Dyson, a righthanded reliever who hasn't played in the majors since a five-week stint with the Twins in 2019, was suspended for the entire 2021 season by Major League Baseball on Friday for violations of the league's policy on domestic violence. Dyson, 32, agreed not to appeal the punishment, and must also take part in an evaluation and treatment program. Dyson, who appeared in 12 games for the Twins in 2019 after a trade with San Francisco before becoming a free agent, was accused by his former girlfriend Alexis Blackburn of multiple incidents of physical abuse.
• Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco stayed in Fort Myers on Friday to go through a long fielding workout. Sano practiced catching short-hop throws at first base and took several ground balls at third base, in case he's needed back at his old position. Polanco focused on making double-play turns at second base, his new position.