It seems you can’t talk about the Saints’ roster these days without talking about the Twins’.
Prior to the first pitch on Friday night at CHS Field came word that Royce Lewis, equally electric and impactful in his time with the Saints and with the Twins this season, would be lost for the season after sustaining his second torn ACL in his right knee.
Right-hander Josh Winder, on rehab assignment from the Twins after recovering from right shoulder impingement, started for the Saints and had a brief and unproductive night. Winder left the game after a 30-pitch first inning. He gave up a pair of runs on three hits, including a leadoff home run.
Winder’s struggles came a day after right-hander Joe Ryan was impressive in his rehab outing with the Saints.
Who homered for the Saints in their 6-4 win over the Rochester Red Wings? Shortstop Jermaine Palacios and catcher Jose Godoy, both of whom have spent time with the Twins this season.
First baseman/outfielder Alex Kirilloff broke a 4-4 tie in the sixth inning with a two-run double to deep center field. Kirilloff is with the Saints in search of answers while playing through lingering pain in his surgically repaired right wrist.
Like everyone else in the organization, Saints interim manager Tyler Smarslok was devastated to hear the news about Lewis.
“It’s sad news for him, especially for how hard he worked to get back and how well he was playing,” Smarslok said. “He was helping those guys in the big leagues. There’s no doubt in our minds, and I can speak for all of us in the organization, we know he is going to come back strong.
“He’s resilient, he’s got a great mindset. And he’s done this before, so now he knows what to expect.”
Palacios is just back with the Saints after playing eight games at shortstop for the Twins, with Lewis and Carlos Correa out of action. While he hit only .208, he showed that he can handle the position defensively.
“That’s the Palo we know,” Smarslok said. “He’s a baseball player, that’s what he does. He got a pitch to hit and he sure as heck didn’t miss it.”
As for Kirilloff, Smarslok credits his strong work ethic for getting through some tough times.
“He knows himself better than anyone, and he knows his swing,” Smarslok said. “He’s always been a hitter, and we know this is the kind of hitter the world is going to see when he gets back in the bright lights.”
Perhaps the best news of the night for the organization was that Smarslok said Winder didn’t suffer any kind of physical setback in his one inning of work.
“We had a pitch count in mind and he got kind of close to the number,” he said. “He got his work and was able throw his pitches. He got tagged a little bit, but that’s baseball.”