Royce Lewis rarely takes batting practice on the field before games, one St. Paul Saints staffer noting he never saw him do it in the minor leagues, but there he was Tuesday before his first game on a rehab assignment.

Lewis, recovering from an oblique strain, joined the St. Paul Saints' second batting practice group to the delight of some of his teammates. He put on a show with some of his swings, hitting one ball to left field that left the ballpark.

"Just a sign that I want to do something because I miss it," Lewis said. "It was fun, though."

Lewis played seven innings Tuesday and hit a 441-foot homer to center field in his third plate appearance. He was out of the lineup Wednesday, a scheduled off day, and remains on track to rejoin the Twins within the next week.

It's been nearly five weeks since Lewis injured his oblique on a swing in Baltimore. The first two weeks, he admitted, were tough because he felt the injury during a lot of everyday activities. He felt it when he laughed, sneezed, coughed or reached for a dish in a cupboard.

The pain was gone by the end of July, but there was still tightness when he did work with a medicine ball, which he said tested his patience. He was warned by doctors and teammates, including reliever Caleb Thielbar, who had two stints on the injured list because of an oblique injury, that he needed to exercise caution as he ramped up his baseball activities.

"Thielbar was like, 'Dude, when you say you feel good, take an extra week because it's still there. It'll come back on you, and you'll be shocked. Take your time. Even when you go on your rehab, just be smart,' " Lewis said.

Lewis, who started at third base Tuesday, was a huge part of the Twins' offense before his injury. He hit .326 in 95 at-bats with four homers and 15 RBI.

As he prepares to return, the Twins' play since the trade deadline has helped his mind-set.

"When they're doing well, it actually helps me relax," Lewis said. "Whenever I come back, I can take my time and then just join the team, and be a part of it, and not try to be a savior or anything like that. Same thing with [Byron Buxton] or other guys."

The Twins hoped Lewis could provide a spark when he made his season debut at the end of May. The offense was struggling, and he instantly made an impact with some clutch hits.

"Honestly, I just felt like I needed to crack the team," Lewis said. "If I could crack the team, then I'd be blessed enough. That's kind of my mentality the whole year. I'm not a solidified big leaguer. I'm a young guy, so I just wanted to make sure I could show them that I work hard and that I care about the guys and care about winning. That's all I could do.

"Hopefully, I proved that a little bit."

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Solano sits after injury

Donovan Solano remained out of the lineup after he exited Tuesday's game with a right knee sprain in the third inning.

"Today, my ankle is a little bit more swollen," Solano, who was diagnosed with a mild ligament sprain in his knee, told reporters in Detroit. "My knee is better. [Tuesday] I felt it more in my knee."

The Twins didn't immediately place Solano on the 10-day injured list, but he will continue to be evaluated.

"Relatively speaking, it's definitely not worst-case scenario," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, "so we'll take that."


Jair Camargo hit a two-run homer and two-way player Andrew Bechtold earned his first career win as a pitcher in the St. Paul Saints' 6-3 victory over the Louisville Bats on Wednesday at CHS Field. Bechtold, a utility infielder, has made nine appearances as a pitcher this year.