The Twins announced they’ve reinstated Carlos Correa from the injured list, a bit more than a week after the star shortstop tested positive for COVID-19. Jermaine Palacios, who was selected to the majors as a designated “substitute” once Correa went on the IL, has been returned to Triple-A St. Paul in a corresponding move. Minnesota also selected reliever Jharel Cotton back to the big league club, filling the spot vacated when they designated Juan Minaya for assignment last night.
Correa is back in the lineup tonight against the Yankees, although manager Rocco Baldelli will ease him in with a start at designated hitter. Minnesota’s marquee offseason pickup has overcome a slow start to carry a quality .279/.344/.407 season line into play tonight. He’s only hit three home runs, but the 27-year-old has collected nine doubles and a batting average and on-base percentage well better than the respective .240 and .311 league marks.
The virus absence was the second of the season for Correa, who also landed on the shelf with a bruised finger. That proved a brief stay, one that was welcome after initial x-rays suggested he’d potentially suffered a fracture. Correa has only appeared in 35 of the Twins’ 57 games as a result, but the club has nevertheless built a four-game lead in the American League Central. They’ll hope the two-time All-Star — who can opt out of the final two years and $70.2MM on his deal next offseason — remains in the lineup for good through the summer months.
Palacios picked up eight starts at shortstop in Correa’s absence, struggling in his first look at big league pitching. He heads back to St. Paul, where he’s posted a .262/.325/.376 line through 163 trips to the plate. Palacios will no longer occupy a spot on the 40-man roster, and the Twins weren’t required to run him through waivers because he’d been specifically brought to the big leagues as a virus substitute. He’ll look to earn a more lasting promotion with the Saints.
Cotton followed that path, getting called up just two days after being returned to the minors. The right-hander was selected as a substitute for the players who went on the restricted list for the team’s weekend series in Toronto, but he was taken back off the roster when that group was reinstated on Monday.
This time around, Cotton is earning a more typical promotion to the majors. He’s now longer a substitute, so Minnesota would have to designate him for assignment and try to run him through waivers were they to again look to remove him from the 40-man roster. They’ve already done so once this year, as Cotton was outrighted off the roster last month but accepted an assignment to Triple-A and has worked his way back.
The 30-year-old has appeared in six games for the MLB club this year, tossing 9 2/3 innings of two-run ball with ten strikeouts but six walks. Cotton has had a strong showing in ten outings with St. Paul, allowing four runs in 11 2/3 frames while punching out a third of the batters he’s faced. He rejoins the big league bullpen as a result, taking the place of the struggling Minaya. Cotton is out of minor league option years, so he has to stick on the MLB roster or again be exposed to waivers now that he’s reclaimed a 40-man spot.