ST. LOUIS – Byron Buxton ran in the outfield for a second day in a row Monday, felt only occasional discomfort in his fractured left big toe and pronounced himself just about ready to return to action.
“I’ve gotten to the point to where I think I can tolerate it well enough to play. We’re just taking it day by day,” said Buxton, who last played April 12 before migraines landed him on the disabled list. Those have subsided, but he fractured the toe during a rehab game with Class A Fort Myers on April 22.
That’s the Twins’ plan, too. Manager Paul Molitor said if Buxton feels good again Tuesday, he will run the bases, “another step, another hurdle we’ll have to get over before we start thinking about when he can play.”
The center fielder is willing to go on another rehab assignment, but it’s clear he would prefer to simply be activated. He stands in the batter’s box while Twins pitchers throw in the bullpen, in hopes of heading off any delay to being activated.
“I try to get out there every day, just to see spin,” he said.
No decision has been made yet about a rehab assignment, but Buxton emphatically said he was going to Anaheim for this weekend’s four-game series with the Angels.
That’s not the case for third baseman Miguel Sano (hamstring strain), eligible to return from the 10-day disabled list Tuesday.
“I don’t think we’ll see him in Anaheim,” Molitor said.
A public service announcement that Buxton recorded during spring training will begin running this week as part of MLB and ESPN’s “Shred Hate” campaign to eliminate bullying and support bullying victims.
It’s a cause that Buxton, as the father of 4-year-old son Brixton, says has been important to him since childhood.
“I’ve taught [Brixton] the right way, and [I was] blessed with the parents I have,” Buxton said. “I saw [bullying] in high school, middle school. It’s hard for kids. I feel strongly it shouldn’t be a part of the world. You should be treated the way you want to be treated, and that’s with respect.”
The commercial, which features Buxton interacting with fans at Target Field, will air on ESPN throughout the summer.
Phil Hughes has faced only four batters since his last start April 27, and Molitor said he is not certain how he’s going to find more work for the former starter.
“When we talked about him going out [to the bullpen], we said we’d look for the right times. But looking for spots is tough,” Molitor said. “Preferably we’d like to do it in shorter stints, where he can be real aggressive and try to let it go as much as he can. But unfortunately, there may be days where I have to let him go longer. It can be challenging.”
Molitor said he doesn’t anticipate Hughes starting anytime soon. But he is stuck in an odd limbo, without a defined bullpen role. For instance, could he be used on consecutive days?
“It’s unknown. I know he has some bullpen experience,” Molitor said of Hughes, a reliever with the Yankees in 2009. “But I’m not sure how far he’d be able to go, even with a six- or seven-day layoff” like he had before pitching an inning Saturday.
• Trevor May pitched three innings, roughly 50 pitches, without incident in extended spring training. His next outing, likely this weekend, will be for Class A Fort Myers on a rehab assignment for the righthander who is recovering from elbow surgery.
• The Cardinals asked for a moment of silence in honor of Gretchen Piscotty, who died earlier in the day. St. Louis traded outfielder Stephen Piscotty to Oakland last winter to oblige his request that he play closer to his mother, who suffered from ALS.
• Twins players and coaches had warm greetings for Dave Pruemer, the team trainer for 13 years. He retired last fall to move his family to his hometown of Teutopolis, Ill.