FORT MYERS, Fla. — The delayed start to the Triple-A season certainly doesn’t come as a surprise to the St. Paul Saints, though there is disappointment nonetheless.

The start of the Saints’ first season as a Twins affiliate has been pushed from April 6 to May 4 as Major League Baseball has decided to utilize the alternate-site format to begin the MLB season for health and safety reasons. The Twins will continue to utilize CHS Field as their alternate site, as they did last year.

“Certainly there’s a level of disappointment, but we’ve sort of been there and done that, and so have our fans,” Saints executive vice president and general manager Derek Sharrer said. “We’re confident that we’re going to be able to communicate what they can expect and have plans in place to make it an easy transition from a 142-game schedule to a 120-game schedule.”

The Saints will now play 22 fewer games and open their season with a six-game road trip to Omaha to play the Storm Chasers on May 4. Their home opener will come on May 11 against the Iowa Cubs.

The move to delay the season was done in part with the hopes that by the time Minor League Baseball returns — the other minor-league levels are scheduled to begin on the same day — more players will have been able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, Triple-A teams fly commercially, which could create a problem introducing players who have just been called up and had to travel into a major league environment where everyone involved is working hard to prevent virus transmission. Now, like last season, the Twins will have reinforcements close by for the first month of their season.

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“I think where we sit now relative to the pandemic, understanding that just buying ourselves an additional month, there’s just an added level of comfort in bringing players to St. Paul, bringing fans into our ballparks, putting players on buses and planes to travel,” Sharrer said. “Just the comfort level of having one more month under our belt as we move toward the end of this pandemic was, I think, the driving factor.”

Sharrer said the Saints would consider opening the stadium for fans to watch workouts, though whether they would be able to do that will have to follow protocols passed down from MLB. In lieu of games in April, Sharrer said they might take a run at a few special events, noting that their films and fireworks events nights were a popular draw last year.

While more canceled games aren’t good for business, Sharrer pointed out that the Saints were used to not operating home games until May anyway with their previous schedule as an independent-league team.

Twins lose

After eight runs had scored and two Twins pitchers had combined to record just one out in the fourth inning of the Twins’ 14-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday at Hammond Stadium, manager Rocco Baldelli called his team in. For the first time this spring, the manager rolled an inning.

Because teams have fewer players in camp this year, teams are doing what they can to protect arms and keep players fresh. A new rule being utilized at the beginning of this spring allows teams to “roll” innings, essentially stopping play — no matter how many outs have been recorded — at the end of a plate appearance after the pitcher has thrown at least 20 pitches.

Baldelli could have rolled the inning earlier when Glenn Sparkman was pitching. Instead, he opted to make a pitching change, bringing in Chandler Shepherd.

Berrios debuts

Jose Berrios’ first pitch against the Red Sox on Wednesday clocked in at 94.6 mph. By the end of the inning, he had hit 95. It’s safe to say the Twins starter was happy to get back on the mound.

“That’s how I feel,” he said. “I feel strong.”

Berrios threw an efficient two innings, striking out three in the process. He threw 26 pitches, 16 for strikes, and allowed just one hit — a double that was erased on a subsequent double play.


The Twins added infielder Spencer Steer, a third-round draft pick in 2019, to their pool of 75 players on Wednesday. Steer takes the place of first baseman Chris Williams, who suffered a shoulder injury during Tuesday’s game. … Kenta Maeda will make his first pitching start of the spring Thursday against the Rays. … New reliever Alex Colome gave up four runs on five hits during his Grapefruit League debut. … Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer in his spring debut. Mitch Garver and Kyle Garlick also homered for the Twins.