Alex Kirilloff’s second season in the major leagues has reached the same frustrating conclusion as his first.
The Twins announced Sunday that Kirilloff, 24, will undergo surgery on his right wrist Tuesday in Los Angeles, ending his season. While the surgery he underwent last July was described as a ligament repair, this one will be to shorten his ulna, one of two long bones in the forearm.
“I think he’s disappointed of course,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “… He knows where he wants to be and there’s a way to be there, and right now, this is the way get back and get there.”
Kirilloff, an outfielder-first baseman who was the Twins’ No. 1 draft pick in 2016, first injured his wrist on a slide in early May 2021. He received a cortisone shot and returned later in the month. But in July, the pain became too much, and he opted to have surgery in hopes that he would be good to go by spring training.
While the Twins were hopeful this was behind him in the spring, he landed on the injured list once more just days into the 2022 season with wrist inflammation. After a cortisone shot and rehab assignment, he returned in May.
At that point, he expressed optimism about how he felt, but mentioned that if things took a turn, there was a procedure — the one he now has opted to have — that could potentially help.
“There’s a joint where the cartilage is pretty much gone, so that joint where the bones were interacting is what they were working on and trying to figure out how to create space (between the bones),” Kirilloff said in May.
The procedure would require a surgeon to break his ulna, moving it down to create space and then inserting a plate and screws, he said in May, while expressing hope then that it wouldn’t get to the point where it was necessary.
The Twins sent him down to Triple-A a day later in hopes that he could get his swing back to where it was and he could learn to manage his wrist issues. And for a while, he did. Kirilloff spent a month wreaking havoc on Triple-A pitchers before returning to the majors and showing flashes of the hitter the Twins know he can be.
But the pain eventually got progressively worse and after another cortisone shot over the all-star break did not produce the desired effect, he landed on the injured list again a few days ago. At the time they put him on the IL, Kirilloff said the pain had gotten to the point where he couldn’t swing without his wrist being a problem, and the results were born out on the field.
“It’s tough, but at the same time, I just really want to get back to the way I was before the injury,” he said on Aug. 1. “I understand there are steps to take to do that and it’s not always easy to get back to that point, so it’s frustrating.”
Kirilloff ends his season having played in just 45 games. He hit .250 with a .651 OPS in those games, collecting 36 hits before being shut down.
“We’re hopeful that by getting it done now gives us a chance to use the offseason to get right, to start swinging the bat again, to feel good, and to start getting ready for next year,” Baldelli said. “Obviously this isn’t something that would be contemplated or done unless we thought it was absolutely necessary, unless AK thought it was absolutely necessary, and the doctor too.”
Pitchers Bailey Ober (groin) and Josh Winder (shoulder) will begin their bullpen progression on Tuesday down in Fort Myers, Fla., both with a hopeful September return. The Twins are also hopeful that Trevor Larnach (core muscle surgery) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John surgery) will be able to return sometime in September.