MINNEAPOLIS — Remember Jorge Polanco?
The Twins’ shortstop who caught fire at the plate down the stretch last year could be close to returning to the lineup for Minnesota. The Twins have a couple different routes that they could choose when it comes to Jorge Polanco’s return to the Major League roster.
Polanco is serving an 80-game drug suspension, and on top of that, he recently slammed his finger in a car door and the cut became infected. Talk about bad timing. Injury to insult.
Still, the Twins are eyeing Polanco’s return to the lineup, and that could take several different forms.
Option 1 – With his suspension ending July 2, while the Twins are on the road in Milwaukee, the team could activate Polanco and put him on the Major League roster straight away. That would require Polanco be added back to the 40-man roster, since he’s not taking up a spot while on suspension.
This is likely the path of least resistance for the Twins and Polanco. The only trouble with this path is that date is just a little more than a week away, and Polanco has yet to play in a minor league game. He injured his finger recently when he closed it in a car door, and one source said that cut got infected. In the grand scheme perhaps that’s no big deal, but the timing is unfortunate for Polanco and the Twins. Rather than having a makeshift spring training, he’d have to be rushed back into games.
Polanco was in the batter’s box when Ervin Santana threw a live bullpen session Friday afternoon, Twins manager Paul Molitor said. Perhaps they can get him into some games as the DH real soon and then eventually at shortstop. Then when he’s activated he can slowly get worked back into the defensive mix.
Option 2 – If he’s not ready to answer the bell on that date, his rehab assignment will be up and the Twins would likely have to put him on the disabled list.
That would cost Polanco at least 10 games for an injury suffered so close to the time his suspension was running out. That’d be too bad for Polanco, but perhaps it would be better than activating him when he’s not ready to contribute. I think that this option is less likely than the first, considering that the Twins could use his bat in the lineup right now.
Quick thought experiment. What if Polanco is not healthy enough to play shortstop, but he’s healthy enough to hit and be activated from rehab. I’m guessing the Twins would take him on the 25-man roster. What would that do the team’s DH rotation?
Option 3 – Here’s another question. What if Polanco’s not quite ready to play in the Majors but the Twins don’t want to lose him for an additional 10 days on a DL stint?
I believe that the Twins could try to petition MLB to get a few extra days added to his rehab assignment, since technically the injury keeping him down is separate from the original intent of his rehab.
But then again, I’m guessing it would be hard to convince the league that Polanco is healthy enough to be playing rehab games, but not healthy enough to take a 40-man or 25-man roster spot. It could be seen simply as extra convenience for the Twins in a tight spot. I think this is by far the most remote of the 3 possibilities outlined here.
The most likely option? If I had to guess with 10 days to go on Polanco’s suspension I’d suspect that he’ll be back on the active roster at the earliest possible date, and if he’s not ready to take the shortstop job back from Ehire Adrianza then he’ll be a DH while his finger continues to heal to the point where he can take back his job.