Twins' Kepler, Alcala OK after injury scares; Lee leaves game early

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. – A few days after the Twins announced four pitchers will begin the season on the injured list, and Anthony DeSclafani may miss the entire 2024 season, they finally received some good injury news.

Max Kepler, who was scratched from Wednesday's game with left pectoral tightness, checked out fine after he underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam.

"It seems like [Kepler] is in a pretty good spot," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Thursday morning. "We got some imaging done. We didn't find anything concerning on the imaging, which is great."

Twins reliever Jorge Alcala exited Wednesday's game in the ninth inning two pitches after he caught a line drive comebacker on the mound. The ball, which had a 92-mph exit velocity, deflected off two fingertips on Alcala's pitching hand before it went into his glove.

A postgame X-ray did not show a fracture.

"His index finger and his middle finger got struck by the ball," Baldelli said. "I think his hand was pretty numb. We weren't going to have him pitch if he can't really feel his fingers."

The updates on Kepler and Alcala were welcome news after the Twins learned over a 48-hour stretch that DeSclafani felt more pain in his elbow, Jhoan Duran suffered an oblique strain and Caleb Thielbar experienced more tightness in his left hamstring. Zack Weiss, an offseason waiver claim, will also begin the season on the IL, though he's begun throwing after an earlier shoulder injury.

"When there are 60 guys in camp, there are going to be a lot of things going on over the course of six weeks," Baldelli said. "[Wednesday] was a day that probably could've ended a little worse than it did, so we'll be pleased with the outcomes."

Lee leaves spring training game

Twins prospect Brooks Lee exited Thursday's spring training game after one inning because of a lower back spasm. Lee grounded into a double play in his lone at-bat, then played one inning at shortstop.

"I just heard that his back got tight," Baldelli said. "We'll get him evaluated and get him checked out."

Lee is expected to start the season at Class AAA St. Paul. The switch-hitting infielder has 12 hits in 36 at-bats this spring with five doubles, a triple and a homer.

Twins take walk-off loss

The Twins erased a five-run deficit and took their first lead with two outs in the top of the ninth inning Thursday. Washington Nationals top prospects James Wood and Dylan Crews, however, thwarted the comeback to hand the Twins a 9-8 walk-off loss at CACTI Park.

Wood hit a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth and Crews lined a walk-off single to center field. The Twins (8-16-3) have a 1-12 record in road games this spring.

Alex Kirilloff and Kyle Farmer tallied two hits apiece. Reliever Daniel Duarte, a nonroster invitee competing for a spot in the Twins' bullpen, struck out four batters in two innings.

"There was some wind today and scoring going on, but when you see a guy go out there and just go to work and do a really good job like that, it kind of emphasizes the point he's throwing well," Baldelli said of Duarte.

Cole Sands allowed three hits and four runs in his two-inning start, and reliever Josh Staumont yielded two runs and two walks in one inning.