KANSAS CITY -- The Twins had a rough day on the injury front on Wednesday, as center fielder Byron Buxton was placed on the 10-day disabled list for a second time with his fractured left big toe, while right-hander Ervin Santana suffered a setback with his surgically repaired right middle
KANSAS CITY -- The Twins had a rough day on the injury front on Wednesday, as center fielder Byron Buxton was placed on the 10-day disabled list for a second time with his fractured left big toe, while right-hander Ervin Santana suffered a setback with his surgically repaired right middle finger and was removed from his rehab assignment.
Right-hander Aaron Slegers was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take Buxton's spot on the roster, but he was optioned back to Triple-A after a strong effort in relief in Wednesday night's 11-8 loss, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings. A corresponding move will come on Thursday.
Buxton suffered the fracture on a foul ball off his foot while playing in a rehab game on April 23 while on the DL with migraines. He returned to action with the Twins on May 10 without going on another rehab assignment. Buxton went 6-for-47 with two doubles and one stolen base in 16 games since being reinstated, as his foot pain caused him issues at the plate and on the bases. He'll have his toe evaluated with an X-ray and an MRI exam to see if it sustained any additional damage while playing.
"Defense wasn't really the problem, it was hitting pretty much the whole time -- trying to land, trying to find different ways to keep it from barking," Buxton said. "Each time I'd find myself having a different swing trying to hit a ball. It's tough trying to do that up here in the bigs. You've got to have that consistent swing, and that wasn't happening. I think the best thing for me was letting it settle down a little bit."
Buxton said he knew he wasn't helping the team the way he knows he can when he didn't try to steal second base as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 2-1 loss in 14 innings to the Royals. Despite playing with his big toe double-taped to his second toe, Buxton said it was painful to try to run.
"He's been trying to play through something that's been very problematic, in terms of mechanics, being able to swing properly and all those types of things," manager Paul Molitor said. "It's taken away some of his aggressiveness as a baserunner. If we're going to get going in the right direction, he's going to be part of it. We want to make sure we get him back on track."
Santana, meanwhile, made his second rehab start on Tuesday night, but he again struggled with his velocity while pitching for Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Santana's fastball topped out at 90 mph and he said he's having trouble getting a feel for his pitches after undergoing surgery in early February to remove a calcium deposit from his right middle finger.
Santana was expected to be close to returning, but his timetable is now unclear. He'll go to New York to visit Dr. Charles Melone, who performed the surgery.
"There's been -- almost on a daily basis -- where we're dealing with some kind of swelling or discomfort," Molitor said. "It seems like he gets treated and it responds, then he goes out and does his work. But right now, we want to get him back to the surgeon and make sure that we're doing the right things about how we're bringing him along."
Buxton and Santana were Nos. 1 and 2 in Wins Above Replacement last year with the Twins, according to baseball-reference.com. Buxton had a team-high 5.2 WAR while Santana was second with 4.8 WAR.
Mauer likely to return this weekend
The news was better on first baseman Joe Mauer, who has continued to participate in full baseball activities without any issues over the past five days after being placed on the DL on May 2 with a cervical neck strain and concussion-like symptoms. There was some optimism he could return as soon as Thursday's series opener against the Indians, but Molitor said it's more likely to happen later in the series.
"Joe's still doing well," Molitor said. "He had another good day today. We'll get another chance to talk more extensively tomorrow than we have from the road. I'm still hopeful it'll be sometime this weekend."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.