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    Catching up fast: Jose Miranda, like last season, starts slowly but is now sizzling

    CHICAGO — Most schools in this country give students a spring break each year. After he completes his training-camp studies, the Twins might want to do the same for Jose Miranda.

    For the second straight season, the Twins’ third baseman had a largely fruitless first three weeks to his season.

    As a rookie in 2022, he batted .117 in his first three weeks, and only injuries to teammates kept him in the majors. Good thing, too, because from that point on, he was a .292 hitter who slugged nearly .500, and posted an .808 OPS.

    This year, the pattern seemed to repeat: Three weeks in, he was hitting only .211; entering Tuesday’s game with the White Sox, Miranda had put that slow start behind him again, hitting .306 with his first three home runs of the season.

    “I don’t know what it is, but I feel like the first month is always the toughest one for me,” Miranda agreed. “I’ve talked to different players who say the first month is a rough one for them, too, and they don’t know why. You have to just keep making adjustments day by day. Thankfully, things are starting to click now.”

    It’s a habit that Miranda fell into before reaching the Twins, too. The 24-year-old was a career .208 hitter in April in the minor leagues.

    “You get caught up in trying to get out of it. When things aren’t going your way, you start thinking a little bit more, maybe start chasing some pitches you normally don’t chase because the pressure grows to start hitting,” Miranda said. “But now I feel a little bit more like myself. I feel like I’m taking batter at-bats, obviously, and I’m walking more, which is really important.”

    His manager has noticed, too.

    “He might be Exhibit A” for the value of good at-bats, Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s making the zone a little bit tighter. Early on, he swung at every near the plate, it felt like, and that’s not going to work. And he knows that. He’s made the adjustment and with that comes barreling up some balls.”

    Unofficial starter

    Louis Varland sat in front of a locker in the Twins’ clubhouse Tuesday, which wouldn’t seem unusual except for one detail: He’s not yet on the roster.

    That should change on Wednesday, when Varland is scheduled, albeit unofficially, to take Tyler Mahle’s start against the White Sox. Mahle will be sidelined at least a month, the Twins announced Sunday, as he battles through some elbow soreness.

    And the best part for Varland: If he pitches well — and perhaps even if he doesn’t — he’s likely to stick around longer than two days, which is all the time he got with the Twins last month after starting in Yankee Stadium.

    “It’s very cool knowing that,” Varland said with a smile, “but you never really know for sure.”

    Baldelli was coy about the team’s plans during Mahle’s absence, saying “It’s very possible that Louie could join the group and stay for some extended period. But that decision hasn’t been made yet. We’re going to just wait and see.”

    Varland said he’s excited about the opportunity, even if it means that he doesn’t get to pitch against his brother, Gus, a Brewers rookie who is currently on a rehab assignment with Nashville — which is in St. Paul this week to play the Saints.

    “That would have been a lot of fun,” said Varland, a St. Paul native. “Have the whole family out there and hopefully, me and Gus would pitch in the same game. But things didn’t work out that way.”

    Chicago additions

    The White Sox shuffled their roster with 11 transactions on Tuesday, including adding a pair of former Twins, outfielder Billy Hamilton and righthanded reliever Alex Colomé.

    “I’m glad they’re both back in the big leagues,” Baldelli said. “They were both excellent to work with. I greatly enjoyed my time with both guys, and I look forward to seeing them out on the field.”

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