Tuesday’s home opener was the first of a stretch of 36 scheduled games in 37 days for the Twins, a daunting stretch that closer Taylor Rogers said the team is built for.
“It gives us a little bit of ease mentally,” Rogers said, citing the trio of backup starting pitchers on the current roster. “Similarly with our position players, Marwin [Gonzalez] is a huge advantage to have — letting him play every position and give each guy a day off here and there. Jake Cave has been playing well to start the year, to give the guys in the outfield a day off.”
Added Baldelli: “We’re as prepared as you could possibly be. MLB gave us all a good leg to stand on with the expanded [30-player] rosters, which really does help. I would say that 36 games in 37 days is daunting if you look at it like that, but frankly, if you start looking ahead too far, you can go astray. Our guys know, we worry about today, we focus on today.”
The Twins received results of their first COVID-19 tests since returning from Chicago, and all were negative. That’s both a relief and an affirmation, especially in light of the Miami Marlins’ 17 positive tests this weekend that already have put Major League Baseball’s nine-week pandemic season in jeopardy.
“Proud probably is the right word. I think our guys from the get-go have taken this really seriously,” Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said. “We’ve gone through a travel trip, we’ve gone through some exposure in another location outside of here at Target Field, and so far, so good. Now we need to continue to be vigilant, though. We can’t become complacent.”
Even the strictest rules, the most vigorous enforcement, however, can be foiled by a highly contagious virus, which the Twins understand. “Obviously we’ve seen that now, what is possible and what could happen,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “So far, we’ve been fortunate. [The road trip] turned out OK for us. Doesn’t mean that things couldn’t change, but that’s why we stay vigilant.”
The Marlins’ positive tests in Philadelphia will keep the team idle for at least a week, and forced shuffling of other teams’ schedules as well. So far, MLB intends to continue playing, but further outbreaks could imperil those plans.
“I’m certainly concerned. … I’m concerned first and foremost for the health of all their players and staff,” Falvey said. “We need to take a step back, learn from what transpired, what we can gather from travel protocols.”
Gordon still out
Twins 2014 first-round draft pick Nick Gordon suffered some symptoms of the coronavirus after testing positive early this month, and he has not yet been cleared to take part in the team’s daily extra-player workouts in St. Paul.
Gordon, brother of Mariners infielder Dee Gordon, tested positive at his Florida home and never reported to Twins’ summer training camp. He has recovered and is feeling good again, but has yet to fulfill the two-negative-tests requirement to take part in workouts, Falvey said. Is there a chance, given that the season is only nine weeks long, that Gordon, might be told not to report?
“It may come to that, but we’re not there yet,” Falvey said. “… We’re still planning on having him here.”
Justice for Floyd
The Twins debuted several new looks at Target Field, most notably a “Justice for George Floyd” sign on the right field wall that will remain there all season. A moment of silence was held at 8:46 p.m. in Floyd’s memory, timed to reflect the 8 minutes, 46 seconds that a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
Near the memorial to George is another new sign on the outfield wall: Black Lives Matter / United for Change.