Minnesota Twins 2023 preview: Squashing the injury bug
Don't be fooled by the piles of snow outside your window. Baseball is back Thursday, and in case you’ve been too busy shoveling, here's your guide to faking it for the Twins season.
The talker: Injuries. Last season was derailed by bruises, breaks, tears and sprains. Twins players spent 2,344 days on the injured list, the most of any American League team.
- That's a big reason the Twins tumbled from first place on Sept. 4 to losing the AL Central division to Cleveland by 14 games.
Flashback: Show a fellow Twins fan your smarts by bringing up the team's long, depressing history with injuries. The careers of Kirby Puckett, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Francisco Liriano were diminished or cut short by them. We're snakebitten!
State of play: Here we go again. Star center fielder Byron Buxton is too hobbled to play on defense and will start the season as designated hitter. Second baseman Jorge Polanco has a bad knee and will start the season on the injured list.
- The Twins shocked baseball when they signed shortstop Carlos Correa to a six-year, $200 million contract this winter, which is great, but the only reason they got him is because other teams were scared off by a plate installed in his ankle. Nervous yet?
Yes, but: The front office spent the winter ensuring 2023 won't be a repeat of last year. They added depth to almost every position by signing infielders Kyle Farmer and Donovan Solano and outfielders Michael A. Taylor and Joey Gallo.
- Plus, they have a crop of young prospects who will play for the St. Paul Saints this year. Those players could bolster the Twins lineup if injuries pile up, but also make for a fun summer at CHS Field.
What they're saying: Fangraphs projects the Twins to win 83 games (and the AL Central), and Baseball Prospectus has them winning 88 and the division.
Our three predictions:
- Pablo Lopez, the pitcher the Twins acquired by trading Luis Arraez, will be an all-star.
- French speaking prospect Edouard Julien will force his way onto the roster and smash the ball.
- The Twins will win 88 games, but lose another first-round playoff series.
What's new at Target Field: A left field scoreboard that is 76% larger than the old one. The team also has new uniforms that cost an arm and a leg.
What to watch: The Twins start their season in Kansas City today with first pitch at 3:10pm.
- Their home opener is next Thursday against the Houston Astros.
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