Polanco, Buxton Among Twins Readying for Return From Injured List

Photo: Dan Hamilton - USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins are 5 games behind the Cleveland Guardians in the American League Central division and, at 8.5 games back of Seattle, all but eliminated from wildcard contention. In mid-September, those deficits mean the Twins are one more misstep away from falling completely out of the MLB playoff race.

But… with their win last night vs Kansas City, Carlos Correa & Co. lived to play another day. The odds are stacked against them, obviously. The Twins are still alive, though. On life support… but still alive. They need to win two more vs a bad Royals team, on Wednesday and Thursday.

Because on Friday, they start a 5-game weekend series vs division leader, Cleveland, where they’ll get one final opportunity to force themselves back into division contention.

Reinforcements Incoming

And there’s some good news on the injury front. Darren Wolfson (KSTP, SKOR North) reported Tuesday morning, and Rocco Baldelli later confirmed, that Jorge Polanco is expected back off the injured list for the Guardians series. Huge news for a Minnesota Twins lineup that is desperately lacking a middle-of the order bat, to compliment Luis Arraez, Carlos Correa and Jose Miranda.

Rocco Baldelli didn’t just update us on Jorge Polanco. The clip above (via KSTP) starts with an update on Tyler Mahle, who the Twins are ready to shut down, if this week doesn’t go as planned. But they are leaving the door open for a late-September or early-October return, should they pull themselves back into contention.

It sounds like Bailey Ober will be back any day, to bolster the starting rotation. Trevor Larnach has finally kicked off a rehab stint we were told would begin nearly two weeks ago. Ryan Jeffers, too, has started a rehab assignment. But when Byron Buxton came up, the conversation got foggy.

What about Byron Buxton?

Rocco Baldelli told media yesterday (in the video above); “I could see Polo returning at some point this week. Buxton might be a little bit behind that, but following [Polanco] would be Buck.”

So according to Rocco, Byron Buxton is less likely to return vs the Cleveland Guardians, than Jorge Polanco. But that isn’t the entire story. According to what Byron Buxton’s people are telling Darren Wolfson, Buck has been trying to get off the injured list and into the active lineup for days (36:15 mark — Transcribed Below).

I continue to hear Byron Buxton is progressing. He felt like he could have played a couple of days ago. But the Twins (Rocco) are on record saying they aren’t putting him out there at 50%. Buck feels like he can play at 50% but the Twins won’t put him out there at 50%. In Buck’s mind, ‘yeah, I could go play’, but the Twins don’t feel like he’s quite ready to play. He needs to ramp up baseball activities. But there is a sliver of hope that he could get back in there vs Cleveland. — Darren Wolfson (Mackey & Judd Show)

Beat Kansas City and get back to me

Clearly, Byron Buxton is nowhere near healthy. Rocco Baldelli makes it clear that Buck is much closer to 50%, than he is 100%, even 75%. But healthy or not, Buxton is chomping at the bit, even campaigning, to return.

If the Minnesota Twins actually build some momentum vs the Royals over the next couple of days, I’m not sure Rocco Baldelli or anyone else, will be able to keep Buck on the injured list. He might call the league to activate himself.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan