Twins welcome star Carlos Correa back from injured list

CHICAGO >> The Twins landed in Chicago on Sunday night riding high and on a seven-game winning streak that has turned their season around dramatically. Things got even better for them on Monday when they got their star shortstop back from the injured list.

Carlos Correa had been among their most productive hitters when he strained his right intercostal muscle on April 12 in Detroit. The injury kept him out the past 16 games, but the Twins rallied and managed to pull themselves out of a hole and above .500 despite his absence.

“The team is rolling,” Correa said. “They’re playing great. So, it’s a fun time to come back and rejoin the team.”

Correa went hitless in four at-bats in his return on Monday in Chicago.

The Twins initially feared he had strained his oblique when he was clutching his right side after a strikeout, but they soon got news that the injury was to his intercostal, which had a shorter recovery time period.

Correa said he started doing one-handed drills about a week ago and then progressed into his full routine later in the week. He traveled with the team to Anaheim, where he took infield reps at shortstop and batting practice on the field for the first time in preparation for his return.

At the time of his injury, Correa was hitting .306 with a .876 OPS during his first 11 games of the season, one of the only members of the lineup that was productive during the early days of April.

“When my swing feels good in the cage, I’m confident going in the game and it feels really good right now,” Correa said.

Martin optioned

To make room on the roster for Correa, Minnesota opted to send down rookie Austin Martin rather than infielder Jose Miranda. Martin was playing, primarily, a mix of center field and left field.

“He brought tremendous energy and charisma to the lineup. He plays the game with his legs and makes the other team work really hard, and we move him all around the field and things like that,” manager Rocco Baldelli said of Martin. “He makes things happen for a team and he was a big reason why we’ve been playing some really good baseball.”

But the Twins instead kept Miranda, who is swinging the bat well and has been playing more third base as he continues to build up his shoulder, which he had offseason surgery to repair.

Miranda entered the day hitting .292 with a .820 OPS and two home runs in 16 games. Miranda, who could see some time at third base, first base and designated hitter, had with seven hits in his past three games coming into the series in Chicago.

With Correa back, the Twins can now start shifting Willi Castro, who was the primary replacement at shortstop, back to the outfield, if they choose.

“It definitely gives us more merry go-round,” Baldelli said. “It allows us more movement during the game.”

Duran close

The Twins didn’t let on Sunday whether or not Jhoan Duran would throw another game on rehab or just return to the majors, but the answer became clear on Monday.

Duran was in the Twins’ clubhouse at Guaranteed Rate Field, and while he was not active on Monday, Baldelli said it was “likely” that the closer would be activated on Tuesday.

“I feel excited because I’m coming back to help more,” Duran said. “I know they’re doing a great job right now. They’re doing great and having a lot of fun. I want to be there soon to be a part of that group.”

Sausage talk

Baldelli is now in his sixth season managing the Twins and never, in his time in the role, has he seen a story take off like the one about the summer sausage that the team has been rallying around and hitters have been tapping before they stroll to the plate.

Not the 101 wins the Bomba Squad collected in 2019, not the end of the postseason losing streak last year.

But it was impossible to escape chatter of the sausage, which hitting coach David Popkins reportedly transported from California to Chicago, in the hours before the game in the Twins’ clubhouse where the story was being talked about at length on MLB Network.

“Things like this happen organically — grass fed?” catcher Ryan Jeffers said. “It’s fun. The season’s too grueling and baseball’s too hard of a sport to not have fun once in a while, right?”

And they sure have been having fun with it.

Jeffers suggested they might have to switch the original sausage out to avoid the health department knocking on their door and said he didn’t think a new sausage would affect their luck, saying it was the “meaning behind the sausage,” rather than the specific sausage itself.

“The vibes, as you guys can tell, are great,” Correa said. “We’ve got a sausage now and all that. It’s good to be a Minnesota Twin right now.”