– The Twins were prepared for it. They hoped it wouldn’t happen. But it has.

The two jewels of their farm system, outfielder Byron Buxton and third baseman Miguel Sano, have gotten off to slow starts at Class AA Chattanooga.

Buxton is batting .205 with one homer, three RBI, two walks, 14 strikeouts and one stolen base for the Lookouts. And that includes one game in which he went 4-for-6.

“Apparently, he just missed a couple balls over the weekend,” said Brad Steil, the Twins director of minor league operations.

Sano is batting .182 with two home runs, six RBI, eight walks, 12 strikeouts and one stolen base.

The effects of long layoffs last season appear to be one reason. Buxton was limited to 31 games last year (30 at Class A Fort Myers) because of wrist injuries then a season-ending concussion suffered in his first game at Class AA New Britain.

Sano missed all of last season because of Tommy John elbow surgery. The lost year of development is evident, and there looks to be a resulting lack of form.

Heading into the season, the Twins felt it was reasonable to expect the pair of 21-year-olds to debut sometime this season, and that can still can happen. But they have to knock the rust off before being called up.

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Suzuki returns

Monday night, Kurt Suzuki pledged to be in the starting lineup Tuesday despite taking a wicked line drive off the top of his right foot during a loss to the Royals.

“I’m fine,” he said. “No ice, no nothin’ It’s part of the game.”

And Suzuki was, starting behind the plate and batting eighth.

“That’s big for us,” third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. “He’s one of those guys we need in your lineup.”

A foul ball by Oswaldo Arcia came right back to where Suzuki was in the on deck circle. He had little time to react and was down for a couple minutes before staying in the game.

“He was on the ground for so long it might have gotten him in a bad spot,” Plouffe said. “That foot area can easily be broken. I definitely was surprised.”

Twins manager Paul Molitor checked with Suzuki early in the afternoon and had no problems putting him in the starting lineup

“He’s bruised and all that,” Molitor said. “But he’s fine. He wants to be in there, he’s capable of being in there. I’m not going to sit him out.”

The Twins, however, ended up in a pickle. Suzuki batted and made the last out of the inning and had to put on his catching gear. Chris Herrmann was supposed to warm up starter Kyle Gibson for the next inning, but he had to loosen up because Molitor thought Suzuki was coming out of the game because of the injury. He didn’t, so there were two catchers not in catching gear, and Gibson needing to warm up.

The umpires spoke with Molitor about the delay, which technically could get them into trouble with the league as a pace of play issue once fines can be levied, which is May 1.

“We had a violation for not being on time because we had no one to warm up the pitcher, for about 30 seconds,” Molitor said.

“He was yelling for someone to get out there, and we were scrambling to get someone and find where Chris was at.”


• Molitor reiterated that Eduardo Escobar remains the emergency catcher.

• Lefthander Brian Duensing (right intercostal strain) will attempt some soft toss on Wednesday as he slowly builds up to a bullpen session.

• Righthander Ricky Nolasco (right elbow) remains on track to pitch for Class A Cedar Rapids on Saturday.