CHICAGO ‑ Byron Buxton’s rehabilitation assignment at Class A Cedar Rapids has been halted after the outfielder experienced discomfort while taking swings Sunday and Tuesday.
The Twins will have Buxton join the team in Chicago on Wednesday so they can figure out the next step in a process that has taken an unexpected turn.
“He went through his pregame activity [Tuesday],’’ Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It went well to the end of batting practice, took one swing toward the end of batting practice that he felt some discomfort there. Because of that, we are going to take him here. We are going to re-evaluate him when he gets here. He’s going to continue his rehab. That’s not ending or anything like that, for sure. We’ll get him here and we will probably know more once we get him and spend some time with him.”
Buxton also felt discomfort Sunday on a swing while striking out late in the game when he made three plate appearances as the designated hitter. He didn’t play Monday and had an magnetic resonance imaging exam Tuesday morning that came back negative.
That fact that he’s rejoining the club and will continue his rehabilitation — and not being sent back to the Twin Cities — can be viewed as encouraging. But it remains a setback to a team that needs his defense and speed as it tries to win the American League Central for the first time since 2010.
Buxton was scheduled to start in center field for the Kernels on Tuesday before he felt the discomfort in his shoulder. They wanted him to get in two games in Cedar Rapids before returning to the Twins lineup. Instead, Buxton on Tuesday missed his 23rd game since injuring his shoulder Aug. 1 when he collided with the wall while chasing a fly ball during a game in Miami.
But the Twins’ level of concern about the development is not high. General Manager Thad Levine, who was with the team Tuesday, said the club was prepared to restructure Buxton’s comeback if needed.
“I think we’re still optimistic that he’s still going to help this team at some point before the season’s end,” he said. “We know we’re hitting the pause button right now. I wouldn’t even call it a setback. But our doctors have assessed that he needs to strengthen and stabilize his shoulder.”
In 82 games this season, Buxton has posted career highs with a .262 batting average, .314 on-base percentage and .513 slugging percentage.
The Twins were two painless swings away from having their Opening Day outfield back on the same roster.
Eddie Rosario, who missed three games because of right hamstring tightness, was back in the lineup Tuesday. Baldelli sounded concerned Saturday when asked about Rosario’s progress, but he got over the hump since then.
“We had him out there earlier,” Baldelli said. “He was doing some running. He was doing some active warmup stuff. He looked good. He didn’t look like he was favoring it at all.”
It just so happens that Max Kepler was given the day off. Baldelli said Kepler was long overdue for a break, and the manager feels that the combination of Monday’s scheduled off day and not starting Tuesday will benefit him in the long run.
Marwin Gonzalez hit his 15th homer of the season in the second inning, tying the 2017 Rangers for the major-league record of having nine players with at least 15 homers. Jonathan Schoop followed two batters later with his 19th homer. The Twins have six players with at least 20 homers; the MLB record for that mark is seven. Schoop and Jorge Polanco are sitting on 19.