Twins get good news on Kirilloff’s shoulder repair

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune/Star Tribune/TNS

Alex Kirilloff's right shoulder deteriorated to the point where he was removed from the Twins' postseason roster in the American League Division Series, but he received good news this week.

Kirilloff had a bursectomy Tuesday, removing a bursa sac in his right shoulder, but surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache didn't identify a need to operate on his labrum or rotator cuff, which would have caused a lengthier rehab process.

"After imaging and further evaluation, there was no need to repair the labrum or rotator cuff," the Twins announced. "In the coming weeks, Alex will focus on range of motion and strengthening as he progresses into his normal offseason strength and conditioning work."

Kirilloff initially injured his shoulder diving for a ground ball in July, and he spent nearly six weeks on the injured list. He played well at the end of the regular season, batting .273 with three homers and nine RBI in 55 at-bats in September, but the injury became progressively more painful throughout the playoffs when he went hitless in nine at-bats with four strikeouts.

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The Twins did not announce a timeline for Kirilloff's recovery Wednesday — it is his non-throwing shoulder — but avoiding a procedure on his labrum should allow him to begin baseball activities before the start of spring training.

"He was never back to anything I would call 100% or close to it, but he got to a point where he could swing, but we had to keep his workload light and kind of start there," manager Rocco Baldelli said at the end of the season. "That's why late in the season he was not playing every day. We would take him out of games. We didn't want to overuse him, knowing this was something he was dealing with. It just got worse."

Kirilloff enters the 2024 season as the leading candidate to start at first base against righthanded pitching. Jose Miranda, whose season was derailed by his own shoulder injury, could vie for playing time at first base, too.

Oliver Ortega gone

Twins reliever Oliver Ortega, who suffered a season-ending back injury in August, was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

Ortega, 27, made 10 relief appearances with the Twins this year. He yielded 11 hits and seven runs in 14⅔ innings (4.30 ERA) with 14 strikeouts and seven walks.