Jhoan Duran expected to return to Twins bullpen this week

Twins fans heard the best Jhoan Duran update yet.
Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game Two
Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game Two / David Berding/GettyImages

It's been six months since Jhoan Duran has stepped foot on the mound of a meaningful game, but that streak seems very close to ending.

The Minnesota Twins star closer has been out since Spring Training due to an injury, but has spent the last week on a rehab assignment in St. Paul. He seemingly took the final steps toward finally being activated on Monday when he joined the team in Chicago ahead of a series against the White Sox.

What better team to get your feet wet against than the lowly White Sox.

Granted, Chicago just pulled off a stunning sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays but it's hard to see the Twins allowing their division rivals to end the current winning streak. Minnesota has won its last seven games, sweeping first the White Sox and then the Los Angeles Angels this weekend.

Duran wasn't around to help the winning streak get started but it sounds like he'll be part of trying to ensure it continues.

Jhoan Duran return to Twins bullpen is 'imminent' after starting season on IL

Two roster moves were bubbling under the surface of the winning streak, one of which has already been announced. The Twins activated Carlos Correa from the IL, sending Austin Martin down to St. Paul to make room.

Martin is going to soon be joined by another player from the 26-man roster, as Star Tribune beat writer Bobby Nightengale described Duran's return to Minnesota's bullpen as 'imminent'.

Rocco Baldelli said as much before the game on Monday. As i fit wasn't already obvious with Duran being in Chicago, all signs are pointing toward him making his season debut this week.

An exact return date wasn't locked in, but Baldelli said the expectation is that he'll be activated on Tuesday. That likely means the end for Kody Funderburk on the MLB roster -- for now -- as he's the lead candidate to get optioned in order to make room for Duran in the bullpen.

Funderburk was called up on Opening Day to help account for the barrage of injuries that struck Minnesota's bullpen in the final days of Spring Training. Duran was joined on the IL by Caleb Thielbar, Justin Topa, and Josh Staumont; the former is still working his way back and the latter was sent straight to St. Paul when he was activated from the IL.

Jorge Alcala and Daniel Duarte were called up alongside Funderburk but neither are on the the roster right now. Alacala was optioned during some earlier roster shuffling and Duarte is out for the season with an injury.

Getting Duran back couldn't be happening at a better time for the Twins. Not only is the team winning but the offense is scoring runs -- something that should only get easier with Correa's bat returning to the lineup.

Minnesota's bullpen was a lone bright spot early in the season when everything else seemed to be going sideways. It's a unit that led the league at one point and that was without Duran's help, so things are going to get even better than they already were at a time when the Twins seem to finally be turning a corner.

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