ARLINGTON, TEXAS — The patella tendinitis that flared up in Byron Buxton's right knee Friday is not new, and it wasn't particularly unexpected, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said a day later. It's a normal reaction, in a surgically repaired joint, to the increased stress of ramping up to game-level intensity after being sidelined a month by a hamstring injury, Baldelli emphasized.
"He didn't hurt himself. It's just a matter of, the more he's on his feet, the more his knee is feeling it right now," Baldelli said. "He's had this before. We'll continue to treat it day-to-day, like we have all along. We still expect him back this year."
Buxton, on a rehab assignment with the Class AAA St. Paul Saints, left Friday's game after two at-bats at CHS Field when he felt the soreness affecting his ability to swing effectively. The veteran outfielder was serving as designated hitter in that game, but he had played center field for the first time in more than a year two days earlier.
Baldelli wouldn't predict when Buxton, who received treatment on his knee Saturday, might return to action. "He's been doing well, working hard to get back," Baldelli said. "It's just hard to match the intensity of game speed."
Ready to return
Willi Castro's new daughter, Amira, is only three days old, but the utility player said he was comfortable leaving her in the Twin Cities while he rejoins the Twins because of who he left her in care of: Amira's 3-year-old sister Arantxa.
"She's so excited. She's been saying for weeks, 'When's she coming? When's she coming?'" Castro said shortly after arriving in Texas. "She told me she wants to take care of her."
Now, he said, he wants to take care of reaching the postseason for the first time in his career, after being sidetracked for three weeks by a strained left oblique. The soreness hasn't completely disappeared, Castro said, but he feels more than healthy enough to resume his role as the Twins' play-anywhere specialist.
He collected a couple of hits in his three-game rehab stint with the Saints — rode the team bus home from Omaha, too — before his wife, Aniana, gave birth early Wednesday morning, and said he's confident he's ready to contribute again.
Castro worked out with Twins trainers before Saturday's game, then took part in infield and batting practice. "The plan right now is to activate Willi on Sunday," Baldelli said.
That's fortunate timing for the Twins, because they probably lost regular center fielder Michael A. Taylor for several days on Saturday, and Castro has been their chief backup at the position this year. Taylor, out of the starting lineup on Wednesday and Friday, returned on Saturday, but aggravated his hamstring injury while running the bases.
Taylor scored from second base on Donovan Solano's two-out single, sliding in just ahead of the throw, but clearly was slowed by the injury as he ran and was replaced by Andrew Stevenson for the remainder of the game. The Twins will wait until Sunday to make it official, but it's likely that Taylor will go on the injured list.
• Jimmy Buffett songs played over the PA system at Globe Life Field during batting practice on Saturday, but that wasn't the only Twins tie to the popular singer and songwriter, who died Friday at 75. Third base coach Tommy Watkins' wife, Courtney, is vice president of marketing, content and communications for Margaritaville, the restaurant/hotel/entertainment corporation that Buffet founded. "She's been working with him for a few years, so it's pretty sad," Watkins said of his wife, who is with him on this trip to Texas. "He was just a really nice guy, a warm and friendly person."
• Baldelli said his decision to pitch Jhoan Duran in a non-save situation Friday wasn't an effort to restore confidence after his blown save two days earlier against the Guardians. "His confidence is fine," the manager said. "Just a game-situation decision — a four-run lead, he had had a day off, and the top of the [Rangers'] order coming up. If we had scored [in the ninth], we probably use someone else, but that gave us the best chance to win."
• Alex Kirilloff homered on his rehab assignment, but that was the only run the Saints scored in a 4-1 loss to Columbus at CHS Field. Randy Dobnak gave up a pair of solo home runs over six innings.