The hitters were in workout gear and surrounded by a batting cage. The pitcher threw from behind a protective L-screen. It was simulated baseball at its best Tuesday.
But it was the first time Glen Perkins has faced hitters since early April of 2016. He ended that 14-plus-month void by throwing to a couple of hitters in the latest step of his comeback from shoulder surgery.
"It felt good," he said. "It was something where I needed the adrenaline to move it along."
The radar gun was not on as Perkins faced Chris Gimenez and Ehire Adrianza, so it was difficult to tell how hard he threw. Perkins threw fastballs, including his sinker, and saved his slider for another day. Gimenez did homer twice against Perkins but still was impressed how he looked.
"He threw some two-seamers that had some late action," Gimenez said of Perkins' sinker.
Between warming up in the bullpen and the batting practice session, Perkins said he threw 40 pitches.
"I felt better coming out of it than I anticipated," he said. "So that was a good hurdle for me to clear. I did feel good, and how I felt is going to allow me to push it further on Friday."
Perkins then started packing for Fort Myers, Fla., where he will enter the next phase of his rehabbing a torn labrum. He'll throw a few more sessions similar to Tuesday's before increasing his activity. Eventually, the three-time All-Star will pitch in extended spring training games and start a final push toward returning to the majors.
Perkins said he's going to start working on his slider.
"We're going to get him a few more situations of doing similar things [as Tuesday] and maybe expand it to some game situations where he has to run around and cover bases, hold runners and do all those things and then get him into some games eventually," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But [Tuesday] was a good step."
Miguel Sano went through an entire pregame routine but became ill once he returned to the clubhouse. So the Twins had to scratch Sano and take his .292 average, 12 home runs and 39 RBI out of the starting lineup.
Adrianza replaced Sano at third base and batted ninth.
Outfielder Byron Buxton was in the starting lineup one day after suffering a lacerated right finger while diving for a ball.
Molitor said he thought Buxton would be too sore to grip a baseball or swing a bat, but Buxton was examined by trainers and given the go-ahead to play.
"It kind of caught me off guard," Molitor said.
Buxton cut the finger when his hand was spiked by left fielder Eddie Rosario, who caught the fly ball they were chasing while sliding.
Righthander Phil Hughes has had some of the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome return because of scar tissue buildup that had caused tightness in his neck and shoulder. Hughes' 2016 season ended because of surgery to treat the syndrome.
Rehabilitation has been recommended, and Hughes will try soft tissue and mobility therapy. The decision was made after Hughes flew to Dallas to be examined by Dr. Gregory Pearl on Monday.
The Twins did not announce a timetable for Hughes to attempt to throw in the bullpen.
•Joe Musgrove was scheduled to start for the Astros on Wednesday but was placed on the 10-day disabled list because of a sore shoulder. Righthander David Paulino will take his place on the roster. Houston played with 24 players Tuesday but planned to call up a reliever for Wednesday's game.