Not that there was ever much doubt, but Royce Lewis was smiling on Friday. He went on the injured list a couple of hours earlier, his rookie season is over after only 58 games and his availability for the playoffs isn't guaranteed.
But hey, it beats tearing up a knee ligament. Been there, done that.
"I'm good," Lewis said midway through his daily recovery regimen, which he hopes eases the stiffness in his left hamstring. "It's not the knee, where I know [I'm] out for a year. This kind of injury, we're doing all we can to make it better. Hopefully, we can get it done fast."
A magnetic resonance imaging test found inflammation in Lewis' hamstring, "a little bit on the plus side of mild," as Derek Falvey put it. "A little bit more than a mild strain. The good news is, he's already starting to feel better. We're going to have to wait and see what the next week and a half brings."
If it brings total health, Lewis could return to third base when the Twins open the playoffs, likely on Oct. 3. If the hamstring hampers his movement too much to field his position, the Twins will consider whether he can serve as designated hitter. If swinging a bat triggers more soreness, he might sit out the first round, in hopes of being ready if the Twins advance to the AL Division Series.
When will the Twins make that decision? "Oct. 2," said Falvey, the Twins' president of baseball operations. "I would anticipate him getting treatment all the way through and then get live work and off-the-field work. … If he can do one-half of the game and not the other, we just have to factor that into how we think about the roster."
That thinking could affect Byron Buxton's role, too. Buxton, who has missed all month because of a strained hamstring of his own, got four at-bats for the Class AAA Saints on Thursday and came out of it with no problems. He will likely play again Saturday and perhaps Sunday in St. Paul.
Given Buxton's inconsistent availability this year, Falvey said he's reluctant to predict Buxton's status when postseason rosters are set. But it appears that the Twins' hopes that Buxton could return to center field this season are no longer viable.
"At this stage, our focus is really just on getting him the at-bats more than anything," Falvey said. "As it stands right now, we're going to focus on the DH role."
• With Lewis on the injured list, Jordan Luplow was recalled from St. Paul to take his place. Luplow was designated for assignment when Michael A. Taylor was activated on Monday, but when it became clear later that day that Carlos Correa would need time on the injured list, the Twins offered to option Luplow to the Saints instead.
• Friday was Rocco Baldelli's first day back with the Twins after leaving the team Sunday to be with his wife, Allie, for the birth of their twin sons later that day. "It's been great. We're very lucky to have two beautiful new boys in the family," the Twins manager said. "Our daughter, Louisa, is loving it, and Allie's doing really well. … We're kind of in a little bit of a fog right now, but we're doing really great."
• The Cedar Rapids Kernels, the Twins' High-A affiliate, beat the Great Lakes Loons 7-6 on Thursday to win the Midwest League championship for the first time since 1994. Twins prospect Emmanuel Rodriguez, a 20-year-old outfielder, hit a grand slam to lead Cedar Rapids, which at 82-50 posted the best regular-season record in the league, to the victory in the deciding Game 3.