MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins reinstated shortstop Carlos Correa from the COVID-19 injured list before their game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday night, a small but significant step toward restoring their depleted roster to full strength.
The AL Central-leading Twins conducted a soft launch, with Correa in the lineup as the designated hitter to face surging Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes.
“We do really miss him when he’s not here, the baseball discussions, the way he watches the game, all of those things,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Correa missed eight games after testing positive while the team was in Detroit. He said his symptoms were strong, from headaches to chills to coughing. In his first season with Minnesota, Correa was batting .279 with nine doubles, three homers, 17 runs and 16 RBIs in 35 games before he got sick. Last month, Correa missed 11 games with a bruised finger.
The Twins still have 13 players on the injured list, and right-hander Joe Ryan remains on the COVID-19 injured list. Ryan is one of seven starting pitchers currently out of commission, which includes Kenta Maeda in his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery.
Maeda, whose 2021 season ended in late August due to the ligament injury, arrived at Target Field this week to shift his rehab program north from the team’s training facility in Fort Myers, Florida. He was all smiles, in good enough spirits to support the possibility he will be cleared for major league action yet this year.
“I had this discussion with the surgeon. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. Right now, just to focus on what I can do within the rehab program and try not to think about when I can come back,” Maeda said through a translator.
The right-hander is scheduled to throw off of a mound later this month for the first time since the operation.
“I’m simply happy to be back, seeing the guys, to simply be around with them,” Maeda said. “Just being able to continue the same program at the big-league stadium gets me going. Very exciting.”
The Twins have 11 pitchers sidelined, but Ryan will make a rehab start with Triple-A St. Paul on Thursday and another missing starter, right-hander Josh Winder, will do the same on Friday to test his shoulder impingement.
Neither of them will be available in time to fill the hole in the rotation that looms this weekend, though. Cole Sands, who lost to the Yankees on Tuesday, is on track to get another turn.
One pitcher who won’t be returning to the staff is right-handed reliever Cody Stashak, who has been out for the last 2½ weeks. He’s headed for season-ending shoulder surgery.
With the shortened spring training putting more of a physical strain on players and strains of COVID-19 continuing to linger around the country, the Twins like every other major league team has had to brace for more absences than usual.
“You can brace all you want,” Baldelli said, “but when push comes to shove, you’ve got to find a way to go out there and win for a period of time with a different group.”