The Minnesota Twins saw two of their players — Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson — come off the injured list earlier this week only to see two more land on the IL later in the week.
Max Kepler was placed on the injured list on Friday and Saturday, a day after he left a game early and a few days after he was scratched before the game began, Alex Avila wound up on the IL, too.
Avila’s injury paved the way for Willians Astudillo, who served as the 29th man during the Twins’ doubleheader on Friday, to be recalled. He will share catching duties with rookie Ryan Jeffers as starting catcher Mitch Garver remains on the IL with an intercostal strain.
“With Alex having the lower back stiffness and dealing with that again, in one way, we know what we’re dealing with, something that he’s dealt with before, so we know most likely how much time we’re going to need,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “The 10-day IL probably makes sense. It’ll give him an opportunity to get healthy and then get back and most likely be ready to go right at when that 10 days is up.”
While Jeffers and Astudillo take on the responsibilities behind the plate, Baldelli said both Garver and Avila will still be involved helping prepare the duo for their responsibilities, as will pitching coach Wes Johnson and bullpen coach Pete Maki.
Astudillo can offer the Twins some versatility — he bounced around the infield a bit last season and also appeared at both corner outfield spots — but while Baldelli said they could still “see him moving around,” his primary responsibility is behind the plate.
To help with a nicked up lineup — Luis Arraez is dealing with a knee issue and both Donaldson and Buxton are being somewhat eased back in — the Twins made another roster move on Saturday, calling up outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. and optioning pitcher Sean Poppen to the alternate site in St. Paul.
“As we’re building up some of our guys in Buck and Donaldson, knowing that they’re still going to need days, in between the games that they’re playing in, being able to add some position player flexibility was very important, and a guy that we can rely on in a lot of ways is LaMonte Wade,” Baldelli said.
Jake Odorizzi threw about 60 pitches over at CHS Field on Saturday, Baldelli said. Odorizzi has been out with a chest contusion since getting drilled with a comebacker on Aug. 21 in Kansas City.
Baldelli said the starter came away from that feeling good, albeit a little rusty as he builds himself back up and regains his feel.
“Physically, he came out in a very good place. That was encouraging,” Baldelli said. “We’ll see how he comes out tomorrow and line up what his next outing, whether that be kind of a backfield outing or another type of outing, so we’ll figure that out over the next couple of days.”
Alternate site update
The Twins are adding some new faces to their alternate site after Ildemaro Vargas was claimed off of waivers by the Cubs and both Jack Reinheimer and Ryan Garton were released.
That opens up spots for the team to add three players. One of those spots is going to top pitching prospect Jordan Balazovic, who compiled a 2.69 earned-run average last season between Class-A Cedar Rapids and Class-A Advanced Fort Myers.
Matt Canterino, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2019, will also join the group. Canterino posted a 1.44 ERA in the lower levels of the minors last year, his first professional season. Charlie Barnes is also joining the group at the alternate site.
Baldelli said relievers Zack Littell (elbow) and Cody Stashak (back) are both “right on the cusp of being able to come back and throw.” Baldelli said they would monitor them over the next day or two and then make some calls on their next steps. … Homer Bailey (biceps) has also been throwing and has “made some adjustments delivery-wise,” Baldelli said. Bailey had been transferred to the 45-day IL and is not yet eligible to return.