Twins head trainer Tony Leo was a busy man Monday, bouncing between Byron Buxton and manager Rocco Baldelli with information about the outfielder’s sore right wrist.
Having sat out two games after being hit by a pitch Friday, Buxton put the wrist to the test before Monday’s game against Boston. He went through pregame work that included taking some swings in the indoor batting cage at Target Field, with Leo and Baldelli tracking him.
Buxton is looking to prove he has made enough progress to return, but hand injuries can’t be taken lightly. A hitter needs his hands to work, so the Twins have to be sure that Buxton is ready to return and is in no danger of aggravating the injury.
“Like we have talked about, Byron is a pretty competitive guy,” Baldelli said. “If we give him an inch he is going to try to fight his way in there even if he probably shouldn’t be out there yet. I think he’s doing better. I think he’s doing better every day. I think it’s noticeable that he’s going better. But we are going to keep an eye on him and make sure he is not trying to do too much, too fast.”
Max Kepler started in center field for a third consecutive game Monday.
The people’s choice?
Jorge Polanco has opened up a 161,000-vote lead over Houston’s Carlos Correa in balloting for the All-Star Game on July 9 in Cleveland. Polanco led by around 66,000 votes a week ago, when the first balloting update was released.
The top three vote-getters at each position when “the primary” balloting ends at 3 p.m. Friday will be in a 28-hour runoff election that begins at 11 a.m. June 26, with the winners starting the All-Star Game.
Starters will be announced at 7 p.m. June 27, followed by pitchers and reserves on June 30.
The Twins’ C.J. Cron is second at first base, training leader Luke Voit of the Yankees by 110,000 votes. Voit’s lead has grown by about 9,000 votes over the last week. Nelson Cruz is in third place among designated hitters, 150,000 votes ahead of fourth-place Shohei Ohtani of the Angels. Cruz is gaining on Texas’ Hunter Pence, who is in second, about 96,000 votes ahead.
In the outfield, where the top nine players will be in a runoff, Eddie Rosario is sixth, Kepler 10th and Buxton 11th. Kepler is 75,000 shy of ninth and Buxton is 95,000 short.
Jason Castro was third last week among catchers but has slipped to fourth, 43,000 votes out of third place; Jonathan Schoop is fourth at second base, but is 360,000 votes out of third. At third base, Marwin Gonzalez is fifth, 134,000 votes out of third.
No extra meaning
Baldelli grew up in Woonsocket, R.I., where nearly everyone rooted for the Red Sox.
“It was a big deal, going to Fenway,” Baldelli said.
Badelli spent most of his playing career with Tampa Bay but did play in 62 games with the Red Sox in 2009, batting .253 with seven home runs and 23 RBI. Since he has seen so much of the Red Sox, it’s not surprising that this week’s series doesn’t mean more than usual to him.
“It doesn’t affect me personally in any way,” he said. “It’s just a situation where it is a team I am familiar with, but a team that you have to greatly respect and you understand you have to go out and execute and play we if you are going to beat teams like this.”
• Hall of Famer Rod Carew remains in the Twin Cities after taking part in the retirement of Joe Mauer’s No. 7 on Saturday. The seven-time AL batting champion was in uniform and in the dugout for Monday’s game, as was his former teammate, three-time batting champ Tony Oliva.
• The Twins signed outfielder Matt Wallner, the 39th overall pick in the first-year player draft. Wallner, who is from Forest Lake and played collegiately at Southern Mississippi, signed for $1.8 million, a little under the $1.9 million the pick was projected to cost.