The Minnesota Twins started last season hot and pretty much stayed hot, keeping at least a share of the American League Central for all but one day on the way to winning 101 games and hitting a major league-record 307 home runs.

Starting well always helps, but in a 60-game season, it might be imperative. Had last season ended after 60 games, Twins reliever Sergio Romo pointed out Monday, “We definitely would have had a different champion.”

That’s because on June 5, when the Twins were 40-20 and had a 9.5-game lead on Cleveland, the Washington Nationals were fourth in the NL East, 6.5 games behind first-place Philadelphia.

“Those that start off hot, it’s gonna be crucial, in my option,” said Romo, who closed the San Francisco Giants’ World Series-clinching game in 2012. “But it’s not necessarily going to be the best teams on paper, I feel, that make it out.

“There may be a couple (that win) on sheer talent, but it’s going to be the teams that come out early and buy into the purpose, the chase, the goal, the system — just really, really, really trusts everybody and runs for it.”

MLB has proposed expanding the playoffs this season but the league and players union have not agreed to the change. After 60 games last season, the Phillies and Chicago Cubs were leading their divisions; neither made the playoffs. Nor did the Boston Red Sox,

“The best teams will start off hot, and it won’t be by coincidence,” Romo said. “In this sprint, any team can lay the smackdown on anybody, so it’s going to be fun to watch.”

The hot spot

The Twins’ training campus is in Florida, which on Sunday and Monday recorded the largest single-day caseloads of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic began its grip on the nation in March — 15,300 and 12,624, respectively.

Because the Twins are using CHS Field in St. Paul as their second summer training facility, they will not be sending players to Florida except in rare cases, even if they don’t make the 30-man roster before the season starts July 24 against the White Sox in Chicago.

“We don’t have any plans to bring a group of players to Fort Myers,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Sunday evening. “It’s just not something that’s in the rules.”

As baseball works toward starting its 60-game season, teams are allowed only two primary training sites, one of them being their major league park. The Twins are using Target Field and the Saints’ Lowertown ballpark to train and evaluate the 60-player pool approved by MLB to help teams overcome potential personnel issues brought on by the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 134,000 Americans.

There are Twins prospects staying in the dormitories and working at the Hammond Stadium campus in Fort Myers, and Falvey said staff is coordinating with them remotely.

“Right now we’re going to just continue to manage them from a distance and try to continue to develop them until we hear otherwise about a league or some type of instructional league or camps or otherwise going forward,” Falvey said.

Hair!

Romo said he has done one thing consistently well while quarantining through the coronavirus pandemic: “Grow hair.”

Looking not unlike one of the traveling party in “The Lord of the Rings,” Romo said Monday his hair — on his head and face — has never been as long as it is now. “I’ve got almost two years where I haven’t cleaned up or trimmed my beard, like made it littler or smaller or whatever the word is,” he said.

The question now is, will he be as hirsute on Opening Day?

“I’m kind of lazy, too, when it comes to shaving and doing all that other stuff, so I’m gonna venture to say as long as my wife’s OK with it, yeah, I think it does make the Opening Day roster,” he said.