FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jorge Polanco is running out of time to make Opening Day a reality.
The Twins second baseman has not played in a game this spring as he recovers from a bone bruise suffered late last season and is likely to start the season on the injured list, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey acknowledged Sunday.
“Obviously, timing plays a role now as we get closer and closer to Opening Day,” Falvey said. “… Our hope is that it’s just a little bit behind where we thought it would be, but we had a pretty tight time until opening day as it is.”
The Twins had to sit back a bit with Polanco this spring as he dealt with soreness in his left knee, and Falvey said that while recent reports on Polanco from head coach Nick Paparesta were that he was doing well, the Twins will he had a better sense of his schedule for the next few days.
Falvey said the Twins re-evaluated Polanco this spring and have no reason to believe anything has changed or he’s dealing with a new knee problem. The second baseman initially injured his knee on a slide last August.
A little more than a week ago, Falvey said both Polanco and Byron Buxton were aiming to be ready for Opening Day, March 30, in Kansas City. But while Polanco did “really well for a while” this spring, Falvey said, the pain forced the Twins to slow down his rehab.
If Polanco isn’t ready for Opening Day, the Twins have players who can hold the position until he returns, including Nick Gordon, Kyle Farmer and Donovan Solano.
Polanco isn’t the only one whose Opening Day status is in question. Alex Kirilloff, who played four innings at first base in a minor league game Saturday, and Falvey each said the Twins hope to get a better idea of where they stand this week. Kirilloff had wrist surgery last season — his second — and the Twins have yet to make a decision on his eligibility.
Buxton, who had season-ending knee surgery last September, is the most distant of the three. He has now played in several minor league games, and the Twins expect to get him in a game in center field this spring. So far, he’s only appeared at designated hitter, and Falvey said “DH opportunities are going to be part of his year,” especially early in the season.
“It’s not going to be a perfect spring for any of those three guys,” Falvey said. “The question is how many games, at-bats, reps do we feel we need before we press Go on opening day? And in some cases, it seems a little clearer to us, Byron, than in other cases, Jorge. And then Alex fits in between them.”