The Twins have been patient waiting for Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano to work their way back after both were demoted to the minors in the past month.
Now they have to deal with another potential injury concern. Buxton, playing in his 18th game at Class AAA Rochester since being sent down to complete his rehab from a fractured left big toe — and to rediscover his swing — left Thursday’s game against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of a sore left wrist.
Buxton was 0-for-1 in the game when he batted in the third inning. The center fielder fouled off two pitches, reacting as if something was wrong with his left hand after the second foul ball.
He fouled off a 1-2 pitch and, apparently, was in pain. He tried to wave off a trainer who came onto the field, but he was taken out of the game.
The Twins have been told by the Red Wings staff that the injury is minor. Still, it is potentially another setback for a player who has had a number of them this season. Buxton has been healthy for some time, but the Twins announced last week that they were leaving him at Rochester to refine his hitting approach.
Buxton began Thursday with a .239 batting average but was hitting .300 over his previous seven games.
Thursday was Rochester’s first game following the three-day International League All-Star break. Buxton elected to remain in western New York during the break and spent all three days at the ballpark, working on his swing with Red Wings hitting coach Chad Allen.
Buxton had a hamate bone scare late last season before exams revealed he had only a bruised left hand. He missed an Aug. 31 game and was back in the lineup the next day.
While Buxton has had his issues, Sano — who a year ago at this time was coming off a runner-up finish to Aaron Judge at the Home Run Derby and his first All-Star Game appearance — homered for Class A Fort Myers on Wednesday, went 1-for-2 with two walks Thursday and is batting .328 with two homers and 10 RBI in 17 games.
He has been on a schedule during which he plays two games and then spends the third day focusing on conditioning and drills. Twins manager Paul Molitor said Sano is getting close to playing more frequently.
“I don’t know how long the Fort Myers chapter will go on,” Molitor said before Thursday night’s series opener with Tampa Bay at Target Field was delayed two hours by rain.
“We’ve mapped it out down the road, not only looking at what he’s doing in the gym but also how many games he’s going to be playing. Increasing the third base games, going with the DH games and some of those type of things.”
Molitor said Sano will have to move up to Rochester and prove he can handle better competition before he would be called up to the Twins.
“Once he starts playing a little bit more regularly and he’s at a place where he can go out and do his job on a day-to-day basis, we’ll get him up there against some better pitching at some point,” Molitor said.