How the Twins’ summer sausage celebration got made: It sparked the offense, but should they eat it?

CHICAGO — With Abe Froman unavailable, I called sausage expert Elias Cairo to address Rocco Baldelli’s concerns about potentially dangerous prepackaged meat currently residing in the Minnesota Twins clubhouse.

Nearly a week after its arrival and with the package showing visible signs of wear and condensation, the sixth-year Twins manager suggested he was worried about what would happen if and when the plastic protector surrounding a pre-cooked summer sausage, which the Twins spent last week touching and throwing to celebrate an offensive awakening, which ultimately tore apart.

In an interview Sunday morning, Baldelli said he believed such an event would be bad for whichever of his players or coaches held the package. Despite opening a three-game series on the South Side Monday night, we couldn’t get our hands on Froman, the “Sausage King of Chicago.” But Cairo, a deli that operates four restaurants in Oregon as well as Olympia Provisions and a 58,000-square-foot warehouse stocked with deli meats, downplayed Baldelli’s concerns about the sausage’s safety.

“I would eat it,” Cairo said with a laugh. “In theory, charcuterie is all about extending the shelf life of a product, and summer sausage is the ultimate product. It’s all based on science. … For a product to achieve shelf stability, it means that it cannot deteriorate. It would simply lose its quality and oxidize. It would start to taste a little unpleasant, but it’s to a point where no pathogens should grow on it.

Five days into the sausage saga, Baldelli is considering hazmat suits and a potential EPA Superfund site.

The Twins initially introduced Cloverdale’s Original Tangy Summer Sausage into their dugout midway through last Thursday’s game, at a time when they couldn’t muster much offense against struggling Chicago White Sox starter Michael Soroka.

With the sausage in tow, the Twins’ bats suddenly woke up.

The Twins hit five homers in 16 at-bats and won their fourth straight game, prompting hitting coach David Popkins to give the sausage to catcher Ryan Jeffers, who volunteered to carry the packaged meat across the country to Anaheim. California.

A Twins offense that was dormant for the first 20 games of the season continued to explode, producing 32 runs in three games against the Los Angeles Angels. During the series, cameras filmed players touching the sausage for luck before hits and including it in home run celebrations, particularly after Carlos Santana’s back-and-forth game early in the series. resounding victory on Saturday.

Ever the superstitious sport, Twins players continue to keep the sausage, even if it is not refrigerated. And therein lies Baldelli’s fear that his clubhouse could become ground zero for an infectious disease.

“I could just look at it and smell it and know that it’s disgusting and you could definitely get sick if that thing opened up,” Baldelli said. “It’s in the package, but it’s not vacuum sealed. …He’s in Pop’s locker right now. If this thing opened, I might throw up. That’s how disgusting it is.

Baldelli raised his concerns in a pre-match interview on Sunday, suggesting that the player or coach who was near the package when it was opened was in “deep trouble.” He had examined the package on Saturday and began to worry.

Two days later, and after the sausage had flown across the country in a Ziploc bag inside Jeffers’ shoe, the packaging was in even worse condition. The team is already considering possibly replacing the sausage once its winning streak ends. (We’re talking maybe a two-foot Sheboygan sausage.)

The problem is that the Twins are hitting for the first time all season. Throughout a 7-13 start, the Twins’ offense has been abysmal, hitting .195/.281/.329 and scoring 3.7 runs per game.

During their seven-game winning streak, the Twins have scored 8.1 runs per game and hit .348/.406/.602.

Fresh off the injured list, shortstop Carlos Correa was excited to participate in the team’s sausage party.

“We have a sausage now and all that,” Correa said. “I have to get some. It’s very weird, very disgusting, but at the same time, it works so we’ll stick with it.

Baldelli is decidedly indifferent when it comes to sausage. He doesn’t want it and won’t advise players on how to store it properly.

Jeffers, who hit the game-tying home run in Thursday’s win over the Chicago White Sox, also downplayed concerns, noting that the wrapper wasn’t wet and that players weren’t “throwing raw meat “.

Jeffers knows, however, that he must be vigilant.

“Eventually we will have to replace the sausage in order to avoid the Department of Health knocking on our door,” Jeffers said. “(Baldelli) doesn’t want another outbreak. He doesn’t want another COVID-19 outbreak from our sausages. We don’t want the Minnesota Twins sausage to start another global crisis. So we’ll see. It’s funny. It’s funny.”

If there was an associated health crisis, “Patient Zero” would be veteran infielder Kyle Farmer. He’s the player who brought the package to the stadium last week after Cloverdale sent it to him. Farmer and his family appeared in a Cloverdale commercial last season and the company sent him a thank you package.

“I was just hoping someone would take it home to eat,” Farmer said. “I didn’t know it was going to end in the dugout, people hitting sausages. …I never thought cold cuts would be thrown in people’s faces.

One expert sides with Baldelli given how the sausage was handled.

Bob Komanetsky, manager of Bolyard’s Meat and Provisions in St. Louis, also wonders how the packaging holds up after spending the better part of five days in a dugout, and how that might affect water activity.

“I wouldn’t eat it,” Komanetsky said. “It requires chemical analysis to do this. Most summer sausages are not cured. You have to smoke it. If it’s sealed tightly, it may have a shelf life. But I always fool myself into thinking that I don’t eat this if it’s not cold.

Still, Cairo, a longtime Chicago Cubs fan, vouched for the sausage as long as the packaging is intact. He trained as a chef after spending five years in Switzerland with chef Annegret Schlumpf. He strongly believes in shelf-stable products.

“The only thing that could happen is if it’s in a dugout in the summer – and we’re talking about August in Arizona – and it’s really hot, it’s going to get greasy and it won’t be as tasty or as delicious,” Cairo said.

As disgusted as he is, Baldelli doesn’t seem too concerned. The Twins plan to throw out the current sausage as soon as they lose and will replace it with another once they return home.

For now, all Baldelli cares about is his team thinking about sausages and good batting averages.

“That’s what you’re looking for,” Baldelli said. “I’m playing well and I’m not thinking about anything, except apparently a sausage.”

(Photo of Carlos Santana catching Ryan Jeffers’ summer sausage after a home run: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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