KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A day after Byron Buxton suffered a Grade 2 strain of his right hip, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said the speedy center fielder’s return was likely going to be more “a discussion of weeks than days.”
Sunday, exactly one month after the injury, Baldelli said Buxton has put himself in a position to begin a rehab assignment, likely sometime in the coming week. The Triple-A Saints are home taking on Omaha this week.
“We haven’t mapped it out completely yet, but he’s doing very well,” Baldelli said. “… Medically, he’s in a very good spot.”
Buxton, who stayed back in the Twin Cities while the team has been on its current road trip, is running the bases at 100 percent with no complaints and no issues. The Twins had previously talked about sending Buxton out on a rehab a couple weeks ago, but that timeline got pushed back as he was having trouble decelerating when running.
“He completed the baserunning program that we had laid out for him and we couldn’t be happier with where he’s at right now,” Baldelli said. “He’s getting very close. Obviously, we want to make sure he’s recovering well and coming back the following day with no soreness and no anything, but things are good.”
It’s welcomed news for a Twins team that has started six different players in center field this season. Four of them — Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave and Rob Refsnyder — are currently on the injured list. Kyle Garlick, who started in center on Sunday, had not played the position professionally before this week and Gilberto Celestino, who was called up after Refsnyder’s injury, began his season in Double-A.
Buxton isn’t the only one nearing a rehab assignment. After completing a successful 35-pitch bullpen on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium, the next step for Kenta Maeda is also likely a rehab assignment.
Maeda has been on the injured list since May 23 with an adductor strain, while also dealing with arm soreness, the latter of two which has delayed his return.
“It’s very possible that with his buildup, that he’s potentially going to need an outing to go out there and compete, not just go out there for a sim game and pitch at 75 percent or anything like that,” Baldelli said.
Michael Pineda, who the Twins pushed back from his scheduled Sunday start after he experienced some forearm tightness in his last outing, also threw a successful bullpen on Sunday, and the Twins plan to have him start on Tuesday against the Yankees. Pineda, Randy Dobnak and J.A. Happ will throw in the Twins’ upcoming series.
Bailey Ober made his second start of the year for the Twins on Sunday. To make room on the roster for Ober, the Twins placed reliever Shaun Anderson on the injured list with multiple blisters on his throwing hand.
Nelson Cruz was a late scratch on Sunday with stiffness in his left knee after an aggressive day on the bases a day earlier that included a stolen base and a hustle double.