Rocco Baldelli has been diligent about giving his players regular rest, and he never publicly sets timelines for them to get back from injuries in order to allow them adequate time to recover without unnecessary pressure to return. But despite his efforts, injuries are racking up for the Minnesota Twins down the stretch.
As a result of this, Jorge Polanco has been forced into the lineup on days when he was supposed to get a day off throughout the season. This is only his second night off in 33 games.
“Many times this year when he’s been due for his day” he hasn’t gotten it, says Rocco Baldelli. “I mean he’s gonna end up with a ton of games and a ton of plate appearances this year. More than anybody else, probably by a lot.”
Polanco has gotten 643 plate appearances as of Thursday, 56 more than the next highest player, Max Kepler. Eddie Rosario has 526, but most of the Twins regular starters sit between 380 and 470. Polanco has been productive at the plate this season, hitting .299/.361/.490 while holding his own at short in the first year of the five-year, $25.75 million contract.
“He’s been durable. He’s done a really nice job for us,” said Baldelli. “When we have an opportunity to get him a day, when we think it fits, we try to take those dates. Many times we’ve tried to get him a day, and then we literally have to go to him the morning of the game, and tell him we needed him to play because of other guys dealing with other things that we could not work around.”
Marwin Gonzalez has an abdominal strain. Miguel Sano has a sore back. Byron Buxton had surgery to fix the labrum in his left shoulder and will miss the end of the season. Jake Cave has left groin tightness. Max Kepler has soreness in his shoulder, and has had issues with his knee and chest in the past. Sam Dyson has soreness in his right biceps. Michael Pineda is serving a 60-day suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, and Kyle Gibson is returning from illness to start against the Washington Nationals on Thursday.
Asked if he could have a healthy team in Cleveland this weekend, Baldelli said, “It’s possible. Really, we have been playing this day-to-day for a while now, and that’s what we are going to continue to do. We’re getting closer and closer. Internally, we know that.”
That may be a sign of optimism more than an official diagnosis. Either way, Polanco not only has missed games in order to fill in for injured players, but he had a tooth procedure on Thursday and is dealing with an injured finger.
“He lost something off of one of his teeth last night during the game,” Baldelli said. “He wasn’t just gonna go another week or two or three without getting a particular procedure done.”
Polanco has done what he can to not only live up to the contract he just signed, but step in for a team that has desperately needed him. It took him losing part of his tooth to keep him out this time.