SARASOTA, Fla. — The Twins are instituting a no-physical-contact policy due to concerns about the coronavirus, which will affect autograph seekers and those hoping to get a picture at spring training with their favorite Twins players. This move is in line with a memo reportedly sent by Major League Baseball to all of its teams earlier this week.
Players were advised against high fives, handshakes or accepting items from fans in an attempt to prevent spread of the virus. The Twins held a team meeting Thursday, March 5, to address this, as manager Rocco Baldelli said they wanted to take the chance to educate players.
“It’s a combination of simply following (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations and MLB recommendations and us stating all those things and sharing them with our guys and also making the judgment to just be overly safe, I think, and limit interaction, hand-to-hand interactions with the fans, for now,” Baldelli said.
Baldelli said the Twins’ medical team had a “pretty extensive,” call with MLB officials on Wednesday to discuss the topic. The novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, and has been spreading around the world. Multiple people have tested positive in Florida, including a man in Manatee County, who currently is being treated at a hospital in Sarasota, where the Twins played on Thursday.
To make it up to fans, Baldelli said the Twins would be bringing their own pens and balls out on the field to sign and share.
“Fan interaction and the fan experience, we know it’s a huge part of what goes on,” Baldelli said. “If we don’t have our fans, we don’t have anything. And what we’re going to do is try to make up for it in some other ways.”
Polanco staying back
Jorge Polanco, a Dominican native, will stay back in Florida as the Twins travels to the Dominican Republic for a game against the Tigers on Saturday.
Though Polanco had expressed a desire to go home to play, the Twins made the decision to keep him back in Fort Myers as he continues his recovery from offseason ankle surgery. Polanco has been eased back into action, playing in just two games this spring — one at DH and one in the field at shortstop.
Baldelli said Polanco was disappointed, but the decision was taken out of his hands and if the team didn’t feel strongly about it, it wouldn’t be going down this road as it knows how important it is for its Dominican-born players to be part of the experience.
“With him recovering from surgery and the days being very precious that we have to get him back on schedule, get him back in games, get him the at-bats he needs, we deemed it important that he stayed on his schedule,” Baldelli said. “And if he did go down to the Dominican, it would probably set him back a few days, which we may not have to work with.”
Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano and Gilberto Celestino, all from the Dominican Republic, will be making the trip home this weekend. Taylor Rogers, Eddie Rosario and Willians Astudillo are among the others making the trip, Baldelli said.
Homer Bailey made his second start of the spring on Thursday, giving up a run on four hits in three innings against the Orioles.
The Twins’ No. 2 prospect Alex Kirilloff homered Thursday and had a 2-for-2 day. He is hitting .600 this spring.