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TORONTO – Designated hitters have hit more home runs this season than players at any defensive position, 175 entering Sunday's games. So it makes sense that Ryan Jeffers, who has served as the DH for the Twins more than anyone else, is tied for ninth in the American League with nine home runs.

Well, except for one thing: Jeffers hasn't actually hit any home runs as a DH this year.

"I saw that stat the other day, and I thought, 'Maybe I need to start doing a little bit more while DH-ing,'" Jeffers said. "But I mean, it's not like I'm not trying."

Eight of Jeffers' home runs have come on days when he's the starting catcher; the other one came in Detroit, when he was sent up to pinch hit for DH Alex Kirilloff. That's one of only three Twins homers officially credited to designated hitters this year, among the lowest total in the majors; Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach have one apiece.

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Is there a connection between Jeffers' lack of home runs when he's the designated hitter? Byron Buxton, after all, complained last season that he had difficulty staying focused on the game while not playing the field, though he still hit 17 home runs.

"I haven't really found it that hard for me. The hardest part is sitting there for an inning or two, dwelling on your ABs," Jeffers said. "But I couldn't tell you why those numbers are that way. I can't put my finger on it."

Nor can his manager. In fact, Rocco Baldelli said, he hadn't noticed the disparity.

"If it was a problem, it would be on our radar. But he's had good at-bats as the DH. He's comfortable as the DH," Baldelli said. "If the definition of hitting for power is hitting home runs, then no. But he's hitting the ball hard as hell all over the park, even as the DH."

He's got a point. Jeffers is batting .275 as the DH, with a .772 OPS and six doubles, decent numbers that are dwarfed by his league-best 1.134 OPS as a catcher.

"Yeah, I feel like I'm hitting. It's been going pretty good," said Jeffers, who already is only five home runs short of his career high. "But my approach is the same. I guess I feel like they'll come eventually."

Buxton improving

Buxton ran the bases at Target Field on Saturday, and he will do so again when the Twins return there Tuesday, athletic trainer Frank Paparesta said.

That's a sign that the soreness in his right knee has ebbed, and the center fielder is nearing readiness for a return from the injured list. Buxton is eligible to be activated for Tuesday's game against the Yankees, and the Twins are "cautiously optimistic," Paparesta said, that they can do so.

Homecoming of sorts

Austin Martin spent the weekend at the ballpark he once assumed would be his major league home. But the reunion wasn't exactly a poignant event for the rookie, who was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2020.

"It's just another series for me. There are no emotional ties to the place," Martin said. "I spent only a few months" in Toronto.

Those came shortly after he was drafted, when the Blue Jays invited him to take part in their midsummer "spring training" at the stadium before the truncated COVID season began.

"I was here for two weeks, but they had us in that bubble, so we weren't even allowed to leave," said Martin, who was traded to the Twins with Simeon Woods Richardson for José Berrios in July 2021. "Obviously I want to win, but it's just another team we've got to play."


• Josh Winder picked up the victory in his second rehab appearance and the Saints scored four runs in the sixth inning for a 5-4 win at Toledo. Former Twin Gio Urshela went 3-for-3 for the Mud Hens.

Carlos Santana's seventh-inning homer gave the Twins home runs in their past 20 games at Rogers Centre. It's only the Twins' second such streak at any ballpark; they hit 21 in a row at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium from 1998 to 2001.