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The Twins were impressed with how quickly Royce Lewis ran the bases Friday, but of course he was fast. He had a plane to catch.

That's what the team's trainers and executives decided after the third baseman convinced them he is healthy enough to resume his season, eight weeks after suffering a serious strain of his right quadriceps while running the bases Opening Day. Lewis was cleared to play and sent to the airport, where he boarded a plane to Buffalo, N.Y.

Lewis will wear a St. Paul Saints uniform in Saturday's Class AAA game against the Bisons.

"He's going to DH tomorrow, and then we'll kind of go from there," Twins bench coach Jayce Tingler said. "He's going to be in the lineup tomorrow, which is exciting."

His teammates certainly think so.

"He's a difference-maker and a game-changer," shortstop Carlos Correa said of Lewis, who has a home run and a single in his only two at-bats this season. "Adding him to our lineup, it's going to boost the lineup in a big way."

It's too early to tell how soon that will be, given how much time he's missed. The Twins will want him to prove he can play the field, too, then eventually play back-to-back games. His rehab could last a week or two.

Then again, he returned from his knee injury at the end of May last season, while the Twins were in Houston. By coincidence, they return to Houston next Friday — the last day of May.

"I don't know" how long his rehab will last, Tingler said. "I will say Royce seems to be a type of guy that doesn't really need a lot of at-bats, just from a rhythm and timing standpoint. I say that just because of the layoff he had at the end of last year, and then [went] into the playoffs and really [didn't] miss a beat."

Still, Tingler said: "It's going to be more of a buildup. It's going to be about getting some strength, some stamina under the legs. From a hitting standpoint, I don't think it'll take him very long."

Lewis surely hopes not. The infielder, who turns 25 on June 5, has made it clear how ready to play he has felt for weeks.

"He's been antsier than I remember in the past. He's been charged up, ready to get out there," Tingler said. "Having to watch, whether in the dugout or when we're on the road and he's doing a lot of work here, that part is challenging."

Said Correa: "He's been wanting to play since last month. Our trainers do a great job of keeping him patient and doing everything they need for him to be 100 percent. Hopefully when he comes back, he stays with us the entire season — and you know what he can do when he's on the field."


• Manager Rocco Baldelli has felt ill since the team returned from its six-game road trip Wednesday night, so Tingler handled his pregame and postgame news conferences. But Baldelli was in the dugout for Friday's 3-2 victory over Texas.

• The Twins recalled Jorge Alcala from Class AAA St. Paul and sent righthander Caleb Boushley back to the Saints. Boushley made one appearance for the Twins, giving up two runs over two innings Monday at Washington. Alcala, joining the Twins for the third time this season, owns a 3.27 ERA with 10 strikeouts and six walks in 11 total innings.

Patrick Winkel had a two-run single and the Saints beat Buffalo 7-4. Twins righthander Josh Winder, on a rehab assignment, struck out three in two scoreless innings of relief and earned the victory.