Twins four-time Gold Glove SS Andrelton Simmons tests positive for COVID-19

The Twins announced a series of roster moves Wednesday, placing shortstop Andrelton Simmons on the COVID-19-related injured list, selecting the contract of JT Riddle in his place and promoting top prospect Alex Kirilloff as the 27th man for Wednesday’s doubleheader. Simmons won’t occupy a spot on the 40-man roster while on the COVID-19 list, so an additional corresponding move to accommodate Riddle isn’t necessary.

Simmons did test positive and has exhibited “very mild” symptoms, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey announced to reporters (Twitter
links via Dan Hayes of The Athletic). There were no other positives on the roster. Simmons will be away from the team for at least a 10-day period under the league’s 2021 health and safety protocols.

Twins skipper Rocco Baldelli also tells reporters that the club expects to activate third baseman Josh Donaldson for the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader and adds that the organization has multiple members going through contact tracing (Twitter
links via Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press).

With Simmons sidelined for at least 10 days from the point of the test, the Twins can utilize Riddle and Jorge Polanco at shortstop in his place. Polanco was the team’s primary shortstop for the past several seasons but shifted over to second base as the club eyed a defensive upgrade up the middle. However, playing Polanco at shortstop regularly will make it easier to get the hot-hitting Luis Arraez into the lineup on a daily basis now that Donaldson is set to return at third base.

Donaldson ripped a blistering double to the left-center gap in his first at-bat of the season but pulled up a bit when heading into second base. The Twins opted to take the cautious route and place him on the 10-day IL due to a hamstring strain rather than chance a few days of rest and Donaldson worsening the injury. It’s surely frustrating for Twins fans to have already seen Donaldson sidelined with an IL stint, though if there’s a silver lining, it’s that the injury was to his hamstring and not to the calf muscle that has given him frequent trouble over the past three seasons.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Kirilloff moving forward. While he was announced as the 27th man for the upcoming doubleheader, we’re also nearing the point of the schedule at which he could remain in the major leagues without accruing a full year of big league service. We’re not quite to that point yet, which makes this a likely one-day promotion, but by this weekend he could return and the promotion could carry some more permanence.

The 23-year-old Kirilloff made his big league debut for the Twins in the playoffs last year and has rated as one of the game’s best all-around prospects since being selected in the first round of the 2016 draft. His proximity to MLB readiness undoubtedly played a role in Minnesota’s decision to non-tender Eddie Rosario this winter.

Kirilloff seemingly had a chance to make the big league roster this spring, but he struggled through a .129/.182/.258 showing in 33 plate appearances. That small sample notwithstanding, he’s a lifetime .317/.365/.498 hitter in the minors and widely regarded as one of baseball’s top 30 overall prospects. Even if it doesn’t happen within the next week, at some point before long, Kirilloff should be expected to get an audition as the everyday left fielder for the Twins.

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