Of all people, it was the ever-optimistic Royce Lewis who suggested Monday that he might not be healthy enough to play in Tuesday's playoff opener.
But actions are more important than words, and Lewis moving around on the Target Field diamond looked far more ready than the comparison that Lewis made in the clubhouse.
"I've thought about Kirk Gibson lately," Lewis said, invoking the hobbled-player-hits-a-homer legend.
The rookie third baseman, hobbled for two weeks by a strained hamstring, said he hasn't been able to run full speed yet and seemed to downplay his availability for Game 1. "It's been kind of too tough [to run], to be honest. But we're taking it day by day," Lewis said. "Hopefully, maybe tomorrow, God willing, I'll be blessed enough to wake up feeling 110 percent and can ball out."
Lewis did a full workout with his teammates, though, taking ground balls at third base with little apparent hindrance. Barring an overnight setback, he's expected to be activated for the 3:38 p.m. game with Toronto and could be in the lineup at his normal position or as designated hitter.
"I would love to do anything at this point. Just based on feel, I think DH would be great. That would be a big step," Lewis said. "I'd love to be out there, but I also don't want to be a hindrance to this team at all."
Derek Falvey sounded far more optimistic about Lewis' ability to contribute.
"He's been tracking, running bases, making sure that he's hitting," said Falvey, the Twins' president of baseball operations. "For him, it's just all about making sure that he's in a good place."
The same goes for Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, though their conditions are very different. Correa, returning after two weeks of resting the plantar fasciitis in his left foot, said Monday he will definitely be at shortstop for the opening of his seventh career postseason.
"I've been able to do pretty much everything," said Correa, whose 18 home runs are the seventh most in baseball postseason history. "Ground balls, hit, some live at-bats, run — I've been doing everything. I feel good."
Buxton, however, is a more complicated problem because the Twins acknowledge that the veteran's legs are not completely healthy, and he's missed more than two months now. The Twins have played well without him, too, and it's not easy leaving a player off the roster to keep such a big question mark.
"At this stage, that decision is going to be made a little bit more broadly around readiness, how he fits on a roster, what that looks like," Falvey said diplomatically. "Nothing's more important than winning tomorrow, right? So ultimately, our focus is on how [players] fit and could help us now. You understand if you don't think a player is in good position to help you during this series or you're putting him in harm's way, you have to be careful."
The Twins are also deciding how many pitchers to carry, as few as 11 or as many as the 13-man limit, for the three-game series, knowing that they can make changes between rounds. Bailey Ober, who pitched Sunday, will be left off, for example. "Those decisions could be impacted by the position-player discussions," Falvey said, apparently referring to the possibility that they decide to activate Buxton.
The Twins must turn in their roster for this three-game series Tuesday morning. Unlike their games in September with 28 players, roster limits return to 26 in the postseason. And with Lewis and Correa likely to be activated, the Twins have already informed players who will lose their roster spots of that possibility.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli "is really good, ahead of time, about [saying], 'Hey, here's the situation. You've got to stay ready,' " Falvey said. "We're pretty upfront with each guy about what it looks like. Everyone in that room is ready to go, and we'll make the final call [Monday] night or in the morning."