Mike Berardino / St. Paul Pioneer Press
CLEVELAND — Twins right fielder Max Kepler, who bruised his lower back/hip area while making a throw home over the weekend in Detroit, was back in the starting lineup for the series opener against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, Sept. 26. Kepler took three rounds of early batting practice at Progressive Field, where he has six of his 18 career road homers. He also did some running to prove to assistant athletic trainer Tony Leo and Twins manager Paul Molitor that he was ready to play again after sitting out Sunday's game at Comerica Park, where Kepler has homered four times.
MINNEAPOLIS — It's easy to forget now as he hits third for a Twins team steamrolling toward its first postseason berth in seven years, but for two solid months this summer Jorge Polanco wandered around in a fog. There were games to be played almost daily, and for those three hours he would give his all, but his heart was heavy after the death of his grandfather. Maximo Polanco, who died at 73 on June 6, wasn't just a strong influence on the Twins shortstop. He was the man who essentially raised him in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
DETROIT—Max Kepler was out of the Minnesota Twins' lineup Sunday, Sept. 24, but no additional tests were ordered for an injury near the right fielder's lower back. Kepler had to leave Saturday's 10-4 win over the Detroit Tigers shortly after landing awkwardly on a throw to the plate in the first inning. Rookie Zack Granite took Kepler's place in the lineup Sunday, playing left field while Eddie Rosario moved to right.
DETROIT—Wherever he goes these days, Byron Buxton has a new constant companion: A rectangular blue box called the True Wave that helps speed his recovery from a bone contusion in his left hand. "That's my best friend," Buxton said Saturday afternoon, Sept. 23, as he sat at his Comerica Park locker. In between baseball activities at the park and during his down time at the hotel or while flying from city to city, Buxton has found relief in hooking up a small, oval-shaped electrode patch to the back of his hand and letting the electronic stimulator work its magic.
DETROIT—While some might be surprised Twins third baseman Miguel Sano has missed 33 days after fouling a pitch off his left shin, his former minor-league teammate Wilkin Ramirez understands completely. On Aug. 29, 2013, in what would become the 70th and final game of his big-league career, Ramirez fouled a pitch from Kansas City Royals' lefty Bruce Chen off his left leg, suffering a fractured fibula that ended his season.
NEW YORK — Brian Dozier doesn't see any gray area in the debate. The Twins' second baseman unequivocally called for protective netting to be extended down the baselines at all major league ballparks after a harrowing incident Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium sent a little girl to the hospital.
NEW YORK — If this was a preview of a potential wild-card matchup on Oct. 3, the Twins basically were sent packing, their performance panned roundly as they slinked back to the relative safety of their off-Broadway venues.
NEW YORK — Max Kepler doesn't feel helpless against left-handed pitching, but the Twins' right fielder is running out of chances to prove that to the man who makes out the lineup card each day. "It just hasn't gone well, and I need to consider my best options on a given day right now," Twins manager Paul Molitor said after sitting Kepler for Monday night's series opener against the New York Yankees. "That's not a knock. Anybody you pick to play, you're going to have to make tough choices."
MINNEAPOLIS—Like so many players in the Twins' clubhouse, Byron Buxton was disappointed to hear the news of Doug Mientkiewicz's firing after five seasons managing in the minor-league system. Buxton played for the old-school skipper from 2013-15 at both Class A Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga. "He knows how to bring out the best in players," Buxton said. "He was very fiery. When you did things right, he would let you know, and when you did things wrong, he'd let you know as well—and he'd tell you ways to correct."
MINNEAPOLIS — Injured Twins slugger Miguel Sano participated in running drills Monday and took batting practice on Tuesday, Sept. 12, as he inches toward a return from a shin injury that has sidelined the third baseman for nearly a month. With only 18 games remaining after Tuesday, manager Paul Molitor indicated he'd be OK with making Sano his designated hitter before he's able to play third base, opening the potential for Sano to return next week. "I'm more concerned about his bat," Molitor said. "I'm not too worried about him playing third base right now."