Twins’ Alex Kirilloff showing his wrist issue might be behind him

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Alex Kirilloff isn’t declaring complete victory just yet, but the Twins slugger seems to have worked through the right wrist issue plaguing him for more than a year.

Since returning from his second stint on the injured list because of lingering soreness from season-ending surgery last July, the outfielder/first baseman is hitting .297 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in 22 games.

“It kind of just took time, and just (about) learning what I had,” he said Tuesday.

On the Twins’ recently completed road trip through Chicago and Texas, Kirilloff hit .381 (8 for 21) with two homers and six RBIs in six games. He was penciled in to bat sixth and play first base in the opener of a two-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday at Target Field.

The Twins’ first-round pick in the 2016 amateur draft, Kirilloff, 24, had surgery to separate a bone in his right wrist from his ulna in his right forearm. The bones were rubbing together in part because the ulna was atypically long, in part because the cartilage in the wrist was damaged. Doctors cleared out the cartilage and shaved some bone to create space, but it was still bothering him when the season started.

In two stints of five games through May 13, Kiriloff was 5 for 29 with zero extra-base hits before he was sent to Triple-A St. Paul for a second time. There, he hit .396 with eight homers, seven doubles and 33 RBIs in 28 games.

Kirilloff said he still feels soreness “here and there” but added, “I would say just generally it feels a lot better than it did. Structurally, with cleaning everything out of there, it’s better than what it was.

“It was just getting the at-bats to where I could have more of the understanding that I can trust my hands again and work through some stuff physically in that aspect, and mentally,” he said. “I just feel better now.”

SANO IN ST. PAUL

Miguel Sano, out since surgery in early May to repair the meniscus in his left knee, was set to continue his rehab in St. Paul on Tuesday. The first baseman was injured after his RBI single in a walk-off victory over Detroit on April 26.

In Sano’s stead, Luis Arraez played first base for at least parts of 27 games and on Sunday was voted to the American League all-star team as a first baseman.

Heading into Tuesday night’s game, Arraez led all major-league hitters with a .348 batting average. Rookie Jose Miranda, hitting .333 with three doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs in his past 14 games, has played parts of 33 games as the first baseman.

Which raises the question: If Sano is able to return, what would the Twins do with him? When he was placed on the injured list, Sano was hitting .093 (5 for 54) with one home run and three RBIs in 17 games.

“I’ve thought a lot about it, but the truth of the matter is things in this game change very quickly,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “In this game, every time you think you know what’s coming your way you’re generally going to be wrong. So, I’m not spending too much time on, you know, 10 different scenarios that could play out in front of us.”

What matters, Baldelli said, is that Sano gets healthy. He began his rehab at Single-A Fort Myers on July 4.

“He’s a game-changing type of at-bat when he’s swinging the bat the way that he can,” the manager said. “I just want him to get to that point, and he’s going to get to that point by getting as many at-bats as possible.”

INJURIES

Right-hander Chris Archer, on the injury list with left hip tightness, threw a three-inning live simulation on Tuesday and reported feeling “great.” Archer, 2-3 with a 3.08 earned-run average in 15 starts, is eligible to come off the IL on Sunday and said that’s his plan.

Reliever Joe Smith, out since June 26 with tightness in his right trapezius, remained on the injured list Tuesday but Baldelli said he could be activated for Wednesday’s 12:10 p.m. first pitch against the Brewers.

Shortstop Royce Lewis, who had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right knee on June 23, was in the clubhouse Tuesday, vowing to return within 10 to 11 months. The No. 1 draft pick in 2017 also had the IT band in his right leg tightened, something that wasn’t addressed in his first ACL surgery in March 2021. “I’ll be back (near) the start of the season next year, that’s my goal,” he said. “Wherever that be, I’m just excited to play.”

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