CHICAGO — Alex Kirilloff’s season reached its conclusion on Wednesday,July21, as the rookie opted to undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist. Kirilloff will have the surgery, performed by Dr. Thomas Graham in Ohio, on Friday, and it will take roughly eight weeks to complete the rehab process.
“We’re not going to try to get him back to major league games this year. That is not the goal,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “The goal is to get him back to the point where he’s 100 percent, where he can swing the bat pain free.”
It’s been a while since he could do that.
The outfielder/first baseman missed most of May with what the Twins had called a right wrist sprain, held out from May 5-21. Kirilloff previously saw Dr. Graham in May, and he received an injection to help quell the pain.
Baldelli said there was originally some hope that Kirilloff might be able to avoid surgery, but it was all going to depend on his pain tolerance when he swung the bat. Ultimately, after another consultation with Dr. Graham on Monday, Kirilloff made his decision.
“We knew there were a lot of outcomes, whether it be mild discomfort, major discomfort, acute pain. All of those scenarios, probably, were going to lead to a procedure,” Baldelli said. “… We knew once he started to come back he was feeling better, but we knew he was still dealing with this. It did not go away at any point and once we knew that, we knew what we were dealing with.”
The timing, they hope, should have Kirilloff feeling healthy heading into the offseason rather than doing the procedure in the offseason, which would give him a shorter period of time to recover before reporting to spring training.
He will complete his rehab Fort Myers, Fla., where the Twins have their complex and he has his home. But near the end of the season, Baldelli hopes to see the rookie back in Minneapolis to watch him a little bit and let him spend time around his teammates.
Kirilloff is hitting .251 with a .299 on-base percentage and .423 slugging percentage in 59 games this season. But he hit four home runs in 12 games before being placed on the IL in May, and another four in 47 games after coming off the injured list.
“He’s a very talented young guy with the bat. I think we got to see some real glimpses, in stretches, of what he’s capable of. I think health kept him from being able to do a lot more,” Baldelli said. “But he’s a guy that can not only compete at this level, but really put up good numbers and compete. For him, this is actually a time where he can continually still get better even though he’s not on the field playing.”
The Twins called up Willians Astudillo from Triple-A St. Paul to fill Kirilloff’s roster spot. Miguel Sanó, who had slipped into a platoon role, should see an uptick in time at first base, and Baldelli said catcher Mitch Garver, who just returned from the injured list on Monday, could potentially see some time there, as well.
The Twins were also in the process of beginning to get Luis Arraez some time over there, Baldelli said, to increase his versatility. That has stalled since Arraez injured his knee trying to make a play on Tuesday night.
Baldelli said they would likely be able to make a determination on whether Arraez needs an injured list stint of his own on Thursday when the team returns home.
“If we’re dealing with an IL stint, we’ll have a pretty good idea about that,” Baldelli said of Arraez. “If he’s starting to look better and starting to move around by tomorrow, that’ll tell us something. His knee is still sore and has a little bit of swelling in it.”