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Twins OF Kirilloff injured after all, says he'll be more open in future

Alex Kirilloff Minnesota Twins Alex Kirilloff - The Canadian Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins will place outfielder Alex Kirilloff on the injured list after all with back trouble, six days after the struggling former top prospect was sent down to Triple-A.

A contrite Kirilloff rejoined the Twins at Target Field on Tuesday for treatment, having acknowledged he understated the severity of his injury because he wanted to keep playing.

Kirilloff had an MRI exam on May 26, the results of which did not suggest he'd need to be sidelined, but after the 2016 first-round draft pick was demoted he reported more significant soreness and pain in his lower back along with nerve-related discomfort running down his leg.

“It’s kind of hard to say something when you want to be out there every day, but at the same time, things need to be communicated at a high level here, especially when we’re all trying to compete to win a championship,” Kirilloff said. "So I just need to do a better job of communicating how I’m feeling and what’s going on with that process so that something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Because Kirilloff had not yet played for St. Paul, the Twins can reverse the decision to option him and simply place him on their 10-day injured list.

Kirilloff batted .201 with eight doubles, three triples, five home runs, 20 RBIs, 15 walks and 47 strikeouts in 57 games, primarily in left field. His time at first base has been limited this season by the addition of veteran Carlos Santana, who was second on the team in home runs (11) and tied for the RBIs lead (36) entering Minnesota's game against Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

Kirilloff, who hit .270 with 11 homers in 88 games last season, is 10 for 74 at the plate since May 1.

“I think the big thing is not being able to prepare to swing the amount that I wanted to. That was kind of a big part of it, and then obviously, some apprehension at times with fully letting yourself go and taking your ‘A’ swing,” Kirilloff said.

For now, he's seeking a second opinion from a back specialist before a timetable for his return can be set.

“You always want to stay on the field and not take yourself off the field. At the same time, you don’t want to further injure things and you don’t want to be out there not being able to do your job the way you’re expected to do your job," Kirilloff said. "I’m still learning and trying to make the best decisions moving forward.”

When manager Rocco Baldelli told Kirilloff last week he would be sent down, he didn't elaborate about the status of his health. Kirilloff said he was caught off guard by the decision.

“He was focused more on the baseball-side of the discussion, which is where his mind goes. He’s a baseball player, and that’s what he’s thinking about,” Baldelli said. “The communication on that, if that was something that was worsening and he was unable to play, does need to be better and something he needs to be able to bring up and say. He had the opportunity to do it. Hopefully, we can do that better next time. Really, the goal here is to get him healthy and right because he’s got all the ability to be one of our best hitters and one of the best hitters in the league when he’s right and going right.”