Polanco back at second base for Twins, Kepler to right field on Saturday

·4 min read

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli cautioned ahead of Friday's game the lineup wouldn't come together until the last possible moment.

The team waited on a couple injured players, hoping they could start the game. One did in Jose Miranda, who took a pitch off his left wrist Thursday but played through it. Byron Buxton was a no-go with his season-long right knee issue. Gio Urshela twisted his left ankle running to first in his pinch-hitting appearance Thursday and also didn't start — he did come in for a late at-bat and smacked a hit but immediately came out for a pinch runner.

Urshela also sat out of Saturday's lineup, but Jorge Polanco was back in the infield after being the designated hitter Friday. That was a somewhat perplexing move, considering Luis Arraez was at Polanco's usual second base spot. But it had good reasoning behind it.

"Polo had a tooth pulled and had a lot of dental work associated with that early in the day [Friday]," Baldelli said, adding Polanco was under anesthesia for the procedure. "… We were basically out of players in order to find a way to field a lineup. We didn't feel comfortable putting Polo out there in the field because, I mean, his face is swollen, and he's on medication. … There's reasons why we sometimes have guys in certain spots."

So Polanco batted only, mouth packed with gauze and all, and drew two walks, scoring on Nick Gordon's home run as the team pulled out a 6-5 victory in 10 innings.

The Twins had more reinforcements Saturday, with Max Kepler coming off the injured list. Kepler has a broken right pinky toe but will play as it heals. Saturday he was in right field and batting fifth.

"I'd expect him to be pretty close to back to normal," Baldelli said. "… He's going to feel some soreness, but it's definitely stuff he can play through."

To make room for Kepler, the Twins optioned outfielder Mark Contreras back to Class AAA St. Paul. Contreras had a good week, hitting his first and second major league home runs.

As for Buxton, he was the designated hitter Saturday after being out Friday. He also sat out Monday and Tuesday's games after playing three consecutive games in center field last weekend. but he was able to be the DH on Wednesday and Thursday.

Baldelli said Buxton is still dealing with swelling from his patellar tendinitis, something that hasn't resolved after his platelet-rich plasma injection during the All-Star break.

"We need to get him back out there in center field. We need to find a way to get him feeling good and get some spring in those legs again and get some of that swelling out of there," Baldelli said. "It's not just going to go away if he continues to DH every day and take one day off. It's not going to go completely away, so we need to find a way to get that out of there."

That could mean some extended time off for Buxton, but the manager wasn't ready to commit to that just yet.

Papa Celestino

Gilberto Celestino might not be the last of his name to become a major leaguer. Give it 20 or so years, and Gilberto Celestino II might be pacing the outfield just like his dad.

The Twins outfielder missed a couple days this week as he anticipated the birth of his son.

"Yeah, I go to the hospital, and I wait for like 12 hours," Celestino said. "And then, he needed a C-section."

Celestino's wife, Lia, was pretty nervous about the procedure. But all went well, and Gilberto Jhose has been a joyful addition to the couple. Both of his names come from his family. Celestino said he likes his name and asked his wife if she thought it would fit the baby as well. She agreed but then chose the middle name to honor one of her uncles who passed away at a young age.

The grandparents are either en route from the Dominican Republic or already here to help. And Celestino has at least one teammate who knows precisely what life is currently like with a newborn. Urshela and his wife, Danna, just had baby Gianna — a combination of both their names — a day or so before the Celestinos.

So it seems Gilberto Jr. and Gianna have a lot of potential as a dynamic best-friend duo.

"Maybe," Celestino said with a laugh.