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Jorge Polanco lands on injured list for first time; Twins recall Alex Kirilloff

The Twins placed Polanco on the IL for the first time (retroactive to June 13) with low back tightness, which has kept him off the field since Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals  Jorge Polanco
Minnesota Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco (11) is congratulated in the dugout May 22, 2022, after scoring against the Kansas City Royals during the game at Kauffman Stadium. Minnesota won the game, 7-6.
Denny Medley / USA Today Sports
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PHOENIX — Jorge Polanco twice required offseason surgery to fix his right ankle and yet, the Minnesota Twins’ durable second baseman had somehow managed to go his entire career without landing on the injured list.

Until Friday, that is.

The Twins placed Polanco on the IL for the first time (retroactive to June 13) with low back tightness, which has kept him off the field since Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays and forced him to sit out of the Twins’ entire series against the Mariners.

Magnetic resonance imaging taken earlier this week did not reveal significant differences than an MRI taken in October, Baldelli said, which is a positive sign, even though Polanco still landed on the injured list.

“I’ve been dealing with it before,” Polanco said, noting that he felt it swinging during his first at-bat. “It wasn’t that bad, but on Sunday, it got a bit bad. It got worse.”

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Polanco said the plan is to take it easy for the next two days, and then trainer Michael Salazar will provide him with a plan to work his way back onto the field.

While he’s on the injured list, the dugout will provide a different viewpoint for Polanco, the hardest Twin to get off the field over the past few years. The second baseman led the team in games played both last season (152) and in 2019 (153). In 2020, he played in 55 of 60 games.

“This has got to be a different kind of weird … time for him,” Baldelli said. “He’s going to be fine, but we need to take this time to make sure he’s able to keep going. … For most guys, the time does come where you do have to hit the IL at some point. Pretty amazing, though, that he’s gotten to this number of games and this long without actually having to do this.”

While the Twins are now without their starting second baseman, they are bringing back the hot-hitting Alex Kirilloff, who has been tearing up Triple-A pitching since he was sent down a little over a month ago.

In 35 games this season with the Saints, Kirilloff was hitting .359 with a 1.106 OPS and 10 home runs, prompting questions of when he would return. The Twins optioned him back to the minors so he could learn how to adapt and play through the persistent wrist issue that had sapped him of some of his power.

“The toughest part for me was being able to trust my hands,” Kirilloff said. “A lot of times, I would think about my hands when I’m hitting and what I want to do with them. When I’m trying to do that and there is pain and discomfort involved, that was kind of the toughest part for me, to trust them as I was experiencing that.”

Now?

“It feels good to feel good,” Kirilloff said.

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Kirilloff said his wrist feels a lot better, and he’s excited about where it’s at. He’s also excited to rejoin his teammates. Kirilloff played in just five games before landing on the injured list — imaging showed no structural damage and he received a cortisone shot to help calm the pain — and five games after returning before eventually being optioned back to Triple-A.

With Kirilloff back in the fold and Polanco on the injured list, Luis Arraez, who has been playing first as of late, will start seeing more time at second, and Kirilloff will likely see most of his time at first for now, with some corner outfield and DH time thrown in.

“AK really took care of everything he needed to,” Baldelli said. “ … The numbers that he put up were pretty noticeable. He feels good and I think he’s going to be here, and now he’s ready and he’s going to help us win games.”

Briefly

Baldelli said Josh Winder (shoulder) came out of his rehab start “doing very well.” The Twins are not yet sure if he will make another rehab start before rejoining the team. … Baldelli said Kyle Garlick (hamstring) is doing fine and the Twins will make a decision “probably this weekend as far as his next step.” … Infielder Elliot Soto cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A.

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