CLEARWATER, Fla. — If Alex Kirilloff is showing up to the ballpark tired from late-night diaper changes or feedings, his manager hasn’t really been able to tell.
“You never know exactly how much sleep he’s getting, but he’s a guy that handles everything very easily,” manager Rocco Baldelli said of Kirilloff, the organization’s No. 2 prospect.
Truth be told, Kirilloff said, since his daughter, Penelope, was born on Feb. 20, most of the late-night wake-ups have fallen to his wife, Jordan, who has reminded him frequently that she’s “racking up the points for the offseason.” That has helped Kirilloff, 22, balance his first few weeks of fatherhood with big-league camp, where the 22-year-old from Pittsburgh has impressed the Twins on the field after recovering from a nagging wrist injury this offseason.
Kirilloff, the Twins’ first-round draft pick in 2016, said he first hurt his right wrist on an awkward check swing near the end of spring training last year. The initial diagnosis was a joint sprain. The pain stayed throughout the season and limited the outfielder to just 94 games in 2019.
“It was kind of just one of those things where it was hard to figure out and kind of just lingered the rest of the year,” he said. “But I’m just happy and hopeful that we nipped it in the (bud) over the offseason and got what we needed to get it to feel 100%, and it’s feeling a lot better so far. So I’m happy about that.”
Last fall, Kirilloff said he got a cortisone shot that helped relieve the pain and get him back into his swing progression a week or so later. Kirilloff, who lives in the Fort Myers area, spent much of the rest of his offseason preparing at the Twins’ complex, and he entered the spring healthy.
During his time in big-league camp, he has been impressive, going 9-for-19 (.474) at the plate with a pair of home runs, four runs scored and four driven in. He added a double, his second of the spring, in Tuesday, March 10’s 5-1 exhibition loss to the Phillies.
“I think he’s happy with the way he’s feeling, and when he takes at-bats, you can see him do unusual and pretty gifted things with the bat. You do,” Baldelli said. “You see him get to a lot of different pitches and sometimes you see it within one at-bat, which is unusual. You might see a guy do something, but he’ll get to pitches all over the zone in the same at-bat, and he finds a way to consistently do it. He’s fun to watch.”
He started Tuesday’s game against the Phillies at first base, and Baldelli said he anticipated Kirilloff continuing to split his time between there and the corner outfield spots. Last season, he played 49 games in the outfield — primarily in right — and 35 at first.
“We feel pretty good about where he’s at at first base,” Baldelli said. “He hasn’t got a ton of work this spring over there. This is obviously his first time over there in game action, but he’s a guy who is very comfortable around the bag. Some of what goes into first base comes very natural to him.”
While Kirilloff’s time in major-league camp likely will conclude soon — though he survived Monday’s the first round of cuts, he is ticketed for Double-A Pensacola to begin the season — he has been trying to spend his time getting as comfortable as possible going into the season and asking as many questions as possible, while also balancing his new job.
“I think it puts a lot of things in perspective,” he said of being a father. “Just having a human that is your responsibility and your dependent now kind of changes your perspective on life, really, and baseball kind of just comes along with that. No matter what kind of day happens at the field, I’m always happy to come home and see her and put that aside. So it’s special.”