It has become all-too-familiar for the Twins over the first four games over the season, seeing one of their starters forced to leave a game early.
On Opening Day, it was Josh Donaldson, who strained his hamstring after rounding first base in the first inning. On Sunday, it was Byron Buxton, who was sick, dealing with a non-COVID related illness.
On Monday, Luis Arraez departed early. He left with a non-COVID-related illness, though one that is likely different than what Buxton has. The Twins said Arraez has upper gastrointestinal discomfort and is day-to-day.
“It’s just something that certainly makes you concerned just because you don’t know exactly what it is. But we were able to send him for a couple of tests,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He was able to see the doctor. There doesn’t appear to be any long-term concern, and Luis himself seemed in a much better place later on in the day.”
Arraez singled in the first inning and walked in the second during Monday’s 15-6 win over the Tigers. During his second plate appearance, Baldelli and trainer Michael Salazar came out to check on him, but Arraez stayed in. He eventually came around to score on a Nelson Cruz grand slam, but he was pulled from the game before taking the field in the bottom of the inning.
Baldelli said it was difficult to know if it was related to what Buxton had been going through, though they were relieved that it wasn’t COVID-19 related for either.
“To sit here and tell you if it’s related to what Buck is experiencing, very difficult to know that. Kind of an odd set of symptoms from both guys, but both are doing better. Luis is doing better,” Baldelli said. “Buck was upstairs for most of the day but is also doing a little better. We’re going to continue to watch these guys and look at them and see how they’re doing.”
As for Donaldson, Baldelli said they had a plan laid out for him to get out on his feet and start running around, starting him off slowly and gradually ramping him up. That will include running the bases at some point.
“Once we’re able to pass those tests and he has a smile on his face, then we’ll know it’s time and he’ll be ready to go, but I don’t want to stick to any sort of hard schedule,” Baldelli said. “He is doing pretty well, and he’s already moving around a pretty good amount.”
The Tigers’ lineup on Monday featured plenty of familiar faces. Five of the nine Tigers in the starting lineup — Robbie Grossman, Jonathan Schoop, Wilson Ramos, Niko Goodrum and Akil Baddoo — either played for the Twins or in the Twins’ organization.
Baddoo was the Twins’ second-round draft pick in 2016, but they did not protect him before the Rule 5 Draft in December after he missed much of the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and didn’t play last year because the minor-league season was wiped out.
Though he hadn’t played above the Class-A Advanced level, Baddoo showed the Tigers enough this spring to carry him on their Opening Day roster. He hit .325 with a .460 on-base percentage and .750 slugging percentage with five home runs this spring.
“He’s such a good kid. He deserves everything he’s getting. He’s worked so hard,” former minor-league teammate and Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers said. “… He worked his butt off and kind of put himself in the situation where he’s at now, and it’s awesome to see him have the success he’s having.”
On Sunday, Baddoo homered on the first pitch he saw as a major leaguer. He followed that up by going 2 for 4 on Monday, hitting a grand slam off Randy Dobnak in the ninth inning.
The Tigers must carry him on their major-league roster for the entire season or he must be offered back to the Twins.
The Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Professional Baseball League announced Monday that Twins third-coach Tony Diaz would be their next manager. The league runs during the winter. … Pitcher J.A. Happ will make his Twins debut on Tuesday against the Tigers. … Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco were taken out of Monday’s game early, but both are fine and the Twins were just trying to give them a few innings off their feet.