Jorge Polanco ‘trusting the process’ as he returns from knee injury

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jorge Polanco didn’t expect the tendinitis in his left knee to affect him for as long as it did.

The second baseman was placed on the injured list in early September and missed the entire last month of the season, an unfamiliar position for a player who had never been on the IL before last season. His offseason was spent flying back and forth between his home in the Dominican Republic and the Twins’ facility in Fort Myers as he rehabbed his knee.

But the pain that bothered him last year has subsided, and in an attempt to keep it that way, Polanco is building up slower than his teammates.

“I don’t feel anything,” he said. “I think it’s part of the process. It’s why I’m going slow, so I can start building up from there and I (can) start doing more things. Once I start doing that, I think I’ll be ready to go.”

The early days of camp for Polanco have started in the training room, as he works to get his body ready for the day ahead. He’s not participating in every single activity as his teammates, but has been hitting and taking grounders.

Polanco preached “trusting the process” and taking things “day by day” as he works his way back.

“Trust in the guys. Trust in the exercises. Trust in the routine that I have,” he said. “Don’t try to be too quick or try to get too excited. Right now, I’m feeling good. I’ve just got to keep going with the plan to make sure everything’s going good and not try to mess it up by being too excited.”

Falvey ‘hopeful’ for Kirilloff’s Opening Day status

Alex Kirilloff’s spring looks a little bit different than that of his teammates, too, as the first baseman is coming off of his second straight season-ending wrist surgery.

The expectation from the get-go was that he would be taking fewer swings at the beginning than an average player as he ramps up. But the good news, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said, is the feedback they’ve been getting from Kirilloff as his swing progresses.

“He’s never coming in at the end of the day, walking into that room and going, ‘Hey, I’ve got some soreness,’ ” Falvey said. “At this point, that’s all we can do because as you all know, this is the procedure. There’s not another one. This needs to work.”

Kirilloff had his ulna shortened in August, and Falvey said he doesn’t really want to put a target on whether or not the first baseman will be ready for Opening Day.

That’s a decision left for mid-to-late March. For now, as long as things keep going how they have been, Falvey says he feels good.

“Let’s just see how his progression works. I’m hopeful he’s ready for Opening Day,” Falvey said. “I just want to be careful and take it day by day.”