Alex Kirilloff Surprises Twins with Back Injury After No-Show with Saints

Alex Kirilloff
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Kirilloff was optioned to Triple-A on June 13. He never showed up. On June 18 he was in the Minnesota Twins clubhouse claiming a back ailment… which from the outside looks more like a passive aggressive attempt to avoid his demotion and continue his service time clock.

When the Minnesota Twins sent Alex Kirilloff down to St. Paul, it was because he wasn’t good. A quick start in April faded quickly as the months went on, and needing to shake up the roster, Austin Martin was recalled to take the roster spot. Rather than head to Louisville and join St. Paul though, Kirilloff was M.I.A.

Alex Kirilloff tells the Minnesota Twins his back hurts

Then on Tuesday, prior to the Twins’ home game vs the Tampa Bay Rays, guess who showed up in the clubhouse? Kirilloff’s sudden appearance was curious considering he had been optioned to Triple-A five days prior. Rather than report, it seems he took nearly a week off, then developed a back injury. Now, he’s going on the 10-day injured list.

In and of itself, playing through injury is something Kirilloff has made a terrible habit of. Dealing with wrist problems the past handful of years, he has looked like a shell of the prospect he was supposed to be, and plenty of that has been to his own detriment.

Batting just .201/.270/.384 in 57 games this season, Kirilloff has effectively admitted that his presence in Rocco Baldelli’s lineup was a negative. Not healthy, he continued to be ineffective and bring down the group as a whole. This is all assuming that there is, in fact, a real problem with Kirilloff’s back. The alternative is worse, much worse.

Did Alex Kirilloff just make it about him instead of the Minnesota Twins?

In suggesting he has a back injury, and never reporting to Triple-A, Kirilloff continues to accrue service time. Remaining on the major league injured list means he can continue accumulating the more than two years of service time he has already established.

That is important when working towards free agency, and blazing through the arbitration process. It’s something that an agent, namely his agent Scott Boras, could very conceivably be interested in doing, as well.

Related: Twins Pushed Disastrous Swing Change on Alex Kirilloff, Causing Massive Slump, Demotion

Rather than simply accept his poor performance cost him an opportunity, and use the change of scenery as an opportunity to get right, he will not be in game action anywhere. Of course, should he actually be injured, that’s what the plan of attack would be anyways.

The problem is that he played for the Twins on June 11th before being benched on the 12th. He was optioned on the 13th, and was reported on as healthy, before backdating an injury nobody knew about by a week.

The look can’t get any worse for Alex Kirilloff

Whatever amount of time the Minnesota Twins were going to make Kirilloff prove it at the minor league level now certainly has gotten longer. His manager wasn’t happy about the level of communication, and Derek Falvey certainly can’t be happy with Boras and Kirilloff should there be any level of manipulation involved.

How long Kirilloff remains on the injured list beyond the mandatory 10 days will be interesting. He can then immediately be optioned, and that would seem to be the most logical stance. Matt Wallner got passed over for a promotion in the place of Martin, and he may be (or may have been) a trade candidate, but the Twins must be rethinking that at this point.

Alex Kirilloff
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Related: Alex Kirilloff Demoted; Minnesota Twins Call Up Another 1st Round Pick

If this is how Kirilloff and Boras are going to operate, the Twins might be better off without him. Of course, trading the former first round pick at next month’s trade deadline would be near the bottom of his value, but both sides cutting ties may be the only way to move forward.

Getting anything of substance for a 26-year-old with a career 101 OPS+ and defensive limitations will be tough, but he could be paired with another prospect to generate more interest. We aren’t going to know the final result of this for some time, but right now Alex Kirillof made himself public enemy number one.

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