Alex Kirilloff returns to Twins in flurry of activity

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CLEVELAND — Less than a week ago, the Twins decided to option Alex Kirilloff to Triple-A, his wrist healthy and his rehab assignment complete.

On Friday, the Twins abruptly reversed course.

With relief pitcher Caleb Thielbar landing on the injured list with a right oblique strain, the Twins had an opportunity to bring up the first baseman/outfielder and seized it. Since Kirilloff is being brought back as an injury replacement, the Twins did not have to wait the requisite 10 days (from being optioned) to bring him up. Because teams cannot carry more than 13 position players, they optioned the slumping Trevor Larnach to Triple-A, opening up playing time for Kirilloff.

Finally, Dereck Rodríguez had his contract selected and was added to the bullpen on Friday. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Twins transferred Tyler Mahle — more on that later — to the 60-day injured list.

While recalling Kirilloff was a quick change of plans, it’s a sign that the Twins are feeling confident in his twice-surgically-repaired right wrist. After first injuring it on a slide in 2021, Kirilloff underwent a second procedure last summer, one to shorten his ulna bone, that delayed his start to this season.

Kirilloff did not play in spring training games and when the team headed north, he stayed at the complex in Fort Myers, Fla., to continue to get at-bats and test out his wrist.

“I feel like it’s probably in a better spot than it has been probably the last two years,” Kirilloff told the Pioneer Press this week.

In 10 games with the Triple-A Saints, Kirilloff was hitting .316 with a 1.040 OPS and 12 hits. Five of those hits were for extra bases, three leaving the yard.

While it didn’t seem as if there was a path to consistent at-bats at the major-league level even last week, Larnach has dropped off after a hot start to the season. In his past 20 games, he hit .161 with a .577 OPS, and in the Twins’ last series against the White Sox, Larnach went 0 for 9 with eight strikeouts and a walk. His last seven at-bats all ended with a strikeout.

With Larnach now optioned, Kirilloff should see some time in left field and at first base. His return could mean that Joey Gallo, who has primarily been at first this season, also sees more time in the outfield, where he is a Gold Glove defender.

Mahle update

The Twins announced last week that Mahle would be shut down for at least four weeks. A four-week shutdown meant that Mahle’s absence will be likely more than double that.

“Bare minimum, he’s not throwing (for) a month. There’s no chance he’s starting a game within four weeks of picking up a ball,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.

Baldelli said Mahle will receive a second opinion on his elbow, which flared up during his last start on April 27. Mahle was diagnosed with a flexor pronator strain and a posterior elbow impingement, and Baldelli said there were “several options” they could look at but they don’t have a feel yet for what may happen.

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