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As he nears the end of his rehab assignment, Twins have a decision to make with Alex Kirilloff

With Gallo, Larnach swinging the bat well this spring, at bats will be tough to find for Kirilloff

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins left fielder Alex Kirilloff hits a single during an April 11, 2022, game against the Seattle Mariners at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Jordan Johnson / USA Today Sports

The Minnesota Twins will soon have a decision to make.

Alex Kirilloff hit a major milestone in his rehab from his second consecutive season-ending wrist surgery on Friday, playing in a full nine-inning game on back-to-back days for the first time.

With his 20-day rehab clock ending, the Twins now must decide whether they are going to activate him from the injured list or option him to Triple-A, which they could decide to do with no clear path to regular playing time in the majors at the moment.

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In seven rehab games with the Triple-A Saints, Kirilloff is hitting .346 with a 1.200 OPS and three home runs, proving his ability to drive the ball, while also playing both corner outfield spots and first base. He is said to be responding well to everything he has been asked to do.

“That was the most important thing for us, to be able to see the things he used to be able to do naturally,” head athletic trainer Nick Paparesta said.

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On his side of things, Paparesta said playing nine-inning games on back-to-back days was a “good marker,” of Kirilloff’s health. Now, the question isn’t as much about his wrist but rather if there’s currently at-bats and playing time for him on the 26-man roster.

Alex Kirilloff
Alex Kirilloff
Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today Sports

“I’m kind of really excited because we’re getting to the point now where it becomes a baseball decision soon,” Paparesta said. “Ultimately, that’s going to be up to (president of baseball operations) Derek (Falvey) to decide what they want to do with him. But him going back-to-back is a little bit of a milestone that I’m happy to see.”

Too many healthy players is a good “problem” to have. In recent years, the Twins have had the opposite — a roster depleted by injuries made it difficult for manager Rocco Baldelli to fill out a lineup card near the end of last season.

If Kirilloff had been ready to go to begin the season, the Twins’ likely alignment would have had him playing first base with Joey Gallo and Max Kepler in the corner outfield spots. But in his absence, Trevor Larnach has stepped in, entering Saturday with a 112 OPS+ (100 is average) and a team-leading 18 runs batted in.

Gallo, who has been the team’s most productive hitter this season, and Kepler are both back after minor injuries and stints on the injured list, and the two, when healthy, are entrenched on the roster. The fact that the designated hitter spot is accounted for by Byron Buxton most days makes it tricky, too, to find at-bats for Kirilloff.

“Things always work themselves out one way or the other. Occasionally you have to make decisions when you have a lot of good players and they’re all playing well and doing their jobs. Sometimes you have to make calls,” Baldelli said. “AK is still working his way back, he’s swinging the bat well,” Baldelli said. “But these guys are playing real well, so that’s a good thing for our team and everything going on. We will certainly find a way to make it all work.”

Farmer update

Kyle Farmer
Kyle Farmer
Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today Sports

Kyle Farmer is progressing well after recent dental surgery, and Baldelli said they have him lined up to play some rehab games when they leave town this week. Farmer was hit in the jaw by a pitch on April 12, requiring oral surgery to repair his teeth and sutures to fix lacerations to his face.

Most recently, he underwent four root canals. Farmer will require one more procedure to remove wires in his mouth. But the infielder has been around his teammates this week, taking groundballs and getting in swings.

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“I think he feels good, so all good on that front,” Baldelli said.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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