FORT MYERS, Fla. — Byron Buxton has had more than 30 at-bats this spring against live pitching, Jorge Polanco just a handful fewer. They haven't come in actual games, but in simulated ones, against Twins pitchers and prospects trying to get them out.

So while both players are avoiding Grapefruit League games and any chance of a setback to the knees that sidelined them last season, Derek Falvey said Saturday, they figure to be ready for the start of the 2023 season, now less than three weeks away.

"We're targeting Opening Day, for sure," said Falvey, the Twins' president of baseball operations. "Everything works back from there. Our medical folks … are telling us that's in play, barring anything changing. And both guys' feedback has been positive."

That includes defensive work under controlled settings, he said, getting them ramped up without tweaking Buxton's surgically repaired right knee, or retriggering the tendinitis in Polanco's left knee. The Twins never expected either one to make their spring debuts until late in camp.

"Polo and Buck are still on track with what we expected," Falvey said. "They're getting live at-bats and doing work behind the scenes."

Nick Gordon, meanwhile, has recovered from his left ankle sprain so quickly, Falvey sounded confident he'll be ready for the March 30 season opener, too. Gordon has been cleared to begin baseball light workouts, and "we feel pretty good about where he's at now."

Same for Jose Miranda, who has begun playing catch, the first step toward testing his sore right shoulder later this week. Miranda's pain when throwing hasn't affected his hitting; the third baseman hit three home runs last week, and doubled home a run on Saturday.

Alex Kirilloff, however, may need more time than the Twins have left in camp, as he returns from surgery on his right wrist.

"It's kind of a tolerance thing on a daily basis for him," Falvey said, though he did not rule out starting the season on time. "Ideally, maybe he'd be a little farther along in the [live batting practice], but he's not, so we're just going to take that day-to-day."

Roster delay

The Twins' plans to option their first batch of healthy players to the minor leagues on Saturday were delayed after consulting the Grapefruit League schedule. With two distant road games coming up in the next three days, including a pair of split-squad games Tuesday, the team chose to wait until at least Wednesday to reduce the roster, in order to keep enough depth to cover all those innings.

But since righthander Simeon Woods Richardson threw two innings Friday night in Sarasota and wouldn't have taken the mound again for the next few days, they reassigned him to the minor league camp right away. The 22-year-old righthander was optioned to Class AAA St. Paul.

In addition, righthander Matt Canterino, who is rehabbing from last summer's Tommy John elbow surgery, was optioned to Class AA Wichita. Canterino hopes to be pitching again sometime in August.

Twins rally

Ryan Jeffers hit his second home run of the spring, sending an 0-2 fastball from Red Sox reliever Kenley Jansen into the right field seats, and Miranda doubled home the tying run and scored the go-ahead run Saturday as the Twins rallied for a 4-3 victory over Boston at Hammond Stadium.

The Twins, unbeaten over their past five games, handed the Red Sox, who lost a Grapefruit League game for the first time Friday, their second consecutive loss.

Tyler Mahle allowed three runs in his 2 1/3-inning start, giving up seven hits while striking out four.

The Twins travel to Lakeland, Fla., on Sunday to face the Tigers.


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