May 31: The Twins announced that Correa has been placed on the Covid-related injured list. Shortstop Jermaine Palacios has been selected to the roster as a substitute player in his stead and will make his Major League debut in Game 1 of today’s doubleheader in Detroit. Minnesota also tabbed righty Cole Sands as the 27th man for that twin bill, and he’ll make the first start of his big league career in Game 2 today.
Palacios, 25, was signed by Minnesota out of his native Venezuela as an amateur free agent back in 2013. The Twins eventually flipped him to the Rays in the 2018 Jake Odorizzi trade with Tampa Bay, but Palacios struggled throughout the bulk of his two-plus years in the Rays organization. Upon being released in the 2020-21 offseason, Palacios returned to the Twins on a minor league deal and placed himself back on the prospect map with a solid 2021 showing. MLB.com currently ranks him 29th among Twins farmhands, while Baseball America tabs him as the best defensive infielder in Minnesota’s system. Palacios hit .259/.340/.439 in Triple-A last year and is off to a .262/.325/.379 start in 2022.
Sands, 24, was the Twins’ fifth-rounder in 2018 and made his MLB debut with a pair of relief outings earlier this season. The Florida State product has had a rough showing in Triple-A so far, albeit in just five starts. He’s widely considered to be among the Twins’ 15 best prospects, thanks largely to a 2.46 ERA and 28.7% strikeout rate in 80 1/3 innings of Double-A ball last year. Sands hasn’t pitched more than five innings in an appearance since April 13, so he may be in for a relatively short outing today. He did toss three scoreless frames in his last Triple-A appearance a week ago.
May 30: Carlos Correa didn’t play in the Twins’ 7-5 loss to the Tigers today, and after the game, Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters that it was learned mid-game that the shortstop had tested positive for COVID-19. Correa will be placed on the COVID-related injury list at some point prior to the Twins’ doubleheader tomorrow in Detroit.
There have already been quite a few ups and downs over Correa’s first two months with the Twins, as he also spent 10 days on the regular IL due to a contusion on his right middle finger. Correa also got off to a pretty slow at the plate, but is now hitting a lot more like his usual self, with an overall slash line of .279/.344/.407 with three homers in 154 plate appearances. This works out to a 122 wRC+/123 OPS+, only a little below Correa’s career average.
However, Correa is now sidelined for a minimum of 10 days following a positive COVID-19 test. As per league rules, Correa can make an earlier return if he goes 24 hours without a fever, tests negative twice, and gets approval from three physicians (the Twins team doctor, a league-appointed doctor, and an MLBPA-appointed doctor).
Correa joins Joe Ryan and Gilberto Celestino on Minnesota’s COVID list, one sub-section of an overall injured list that is worryingly long for the Twins. Once Correa is officially added, he’ll be the 13th player on the Minnesota IL, and the club will also be short a few more non-vaccinated players for a series in Toronto on June 3-5.
Former first overall pick Royce Lewis had filled in at shortstop during Correa’s previous IL stint, but Lewis himself was just placed on the injured list today after suffering a bone bruise on his right knee after a collision with the center field wall in yesterday’s game. This leaves utilityman Nick Gordon or regular second baseman Jorge Polanco as the likeliest candidates to cover shortstop in Correa’s absence, and third baseman Gio Urshela also has experience as a shortstop.