It was a bad week for the Minnesota Twins.
The week ahead very well may be worse.
Too much remains unknown about the virus outbreak on the team as I write this on Sunday to draw any firm conclusions. The mass vaccination of players and staffers last week clearly didn’t keep the virus out of the clubhouse — there hasn’t been enough time for the shots to take full effect, and not enough team personnel were inoculated to lift the league-mandated restrictions anyway.
That last, to me, is the biggest mystery of the episode. The restrictions placed on players and other “Tier 1” people in the organization are far stiffer than most of the rest of us are putting up with, and the Twins have been strict enough that they reportedly fired three minor-league coordinators late in spring training for violating the protocols. I would think everybody involved would be eager to get that out of the way.
But one of the two identified players who have tested positive — shortstop Andrelton Simmons — declined the vaccine last week. And he opted out late last season, an option granted in 2020 to players concerned about the risk of the virus. I don’t understand it, but I guess I don’t have to.
Anyway, at this writing, it’s unclear when the Twins will play again, or how they will get the games with the Angels in (this was their one scheduled trip to Anaheim). And off the history of other clubhouse outbreaks, this may develop into a slow drip of fresh cases lasting for days. If the roster is quarantined for a week or so, that figures to have an impact on conditioning.
It’s a mess.
Which is a description that can also be applied to the team’s play last week, when the Twins seemed to do just enough wrong to lose a bunch of winnable games.
The bullpen was leaky, the fielding failed, the bats went limp. The Twins, with one exception, didn’t get blown out in games, but they didn’t win many either.
These are all things that might well repair themselves in the fullness of time. The middle of April is not the time to blow things up.
But even a minor course correction is difficult if the players cannot take the field. Before the Twins can get back to winning games, they have to beat back this outbreak. And what happens over the next few days on that front was set a few days ago, before the cases emerged.
The virus, like the baseball season itself, is a day-by-day thing. Focus on the process, and the results will follow. That wisdom is so difficult to put into practice, though.
Edward Thoma is at email@example.com. Twitter: @bboutsider.