MINNEAPOLIS -- As the countdown to Opening Day quickly winds down, Byron Buxton inches closer to returning from a left mid-foot sprain that has kept him sidelined since July 13.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said that the center fielder was able to run as part of a workout on Monday and has also been taking some swings. Buxton will hit against live pitching on Tuesday, when Minnesota will have a light workout at Target Field in the morning before the club travels to Chicago ahead of Wednesday night's exhibition against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
"I wouldn’t say he was out there at full speed or truly sprinting, but definitely getting a feel for being back out there and starting to move side-to-side, back-to-back," Baldelli said. "I think he’s definitely doing a lot better and gaining a lot of confidence, which I think is probably the most important thing right now as he ramps back up to full speed."
Baldelli and the Twins have not committed to saying that Buxton would be ready to go by Opening Day on Friday night against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, but they have been optimistic in their characterizations of his recovery over the past several days. Buxton originally injured the foot while tracking a Nelson Cruz fly ball during an intrasquad game. He fell to the ground after adjusting his route to the ball and was carted off the field.
Baldelli also suggested that Miguel Sanó continues to stay on track for the Opening Day conversation, as the slugger works to quickly ramp up to the season after losing nearly two weeks to quarantine as a result of positive COVID-19 tests. Sanó saw his first game action on Sunday and followed that with an 0-for-3 performance with two strikeouts in Monday's 5 1/2-inning scrimmage.
Though Sanó's eye at the plate still isn't quite ready for regular-season action, his physical condition has remained encouraging to Baldelli.
"He comes back the next day with just minor soreness or nothing, so that’s exactly what you’re hoping to see from a guy, especially a guy that’s been out that long. But I think physically, he’s in a very good spot," Baldelli said, "Can I tell you if he’s ready to step in there and start on Opening Day and he’s built up to that? I couldn’t tell you that, but I think he’s definitely shown enough physically that we feel good about him being out there."
Twins' front office to host diversity roundtable Tuesday
During a time of continued reckoning around the Twin Cities community surrounding diversity and racial equity, the Twins hope to continue leading by example and using their platform for awareness through a series of webinars that will highlight the diversity in their front office and throughout the organization.
That series will begin with a spotlight on four Black staff members and their baseball experiences on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. CT, when amateur scouting director Sean Johnson, senior scouting advisor Deron Johnson, pro scouting fellow Navery Moore and advance scouting analyst Josh Ruffin will participate in a virtual roundtable moderated by Noah Croom, the general counsel/partner at the Beautiful Game Group and a former assistant general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves and NBA player agent.
"I think it's a really good opportunity for us to just show who we are and the diverse people that are already existing here in the organization," Sean Johnson said. "To put a spotlight on that, it's hopefully going to encourage other people to follow behind us and want to pursue a path in baseball, and we're good examples that it can be a reality."
Deron Johnson has been with the Twins since 1994 and served as the club's scouting director from 2007-16 before he was succeeded by Sean Johnson, who originally joined the organization as an area scout in '02. Moore and Ruffin are newer members of the Twins' organization who can speak to more recent paths into the world of the baseball front office.
"For anyone interested, I would strongly recommend signing up or tuning in or getting on there, because these are the types of discussions that we need," Baldelli said. "Are these discussions always real easy to have and are they very simple? No. They're challenging at times. But they're also really interesting and I also think they're really going to be beneficial to our game and our game growing as time goes on."
FOX Sports North to broadcast Wednesday's exhibition game
The Twins and their television partners at FOX Sports North announced their full 2020 regular-season broadcast schedule on Monday. The network will air 58 regular-season contests and Wednesday's exhibition against the Cubs. Coverage on Wednesday from Wrigley Field will begin at 6 p.m. CT, ahead of first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT.
FOX selected the other two regular-season games -- July 30 and Sept. 12, both against Cleveland -- for national broadcasts.
Play-by-play broadcaster Dick Bremer will return to the booth for his 37th season, joined by analysts Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Roy Smalley and Justin Morneau. The crew will broadcast from Target Field for all home and away games.
• Kenta Maeda threw 84 pitches over five innings as a starter in Monday's intrasquad scrimmage, which should set him up to be stretched to 90-95 pitches in his next appearance, which should come this weekend in Chicago as part of the Twins' first regular-season series.
Maeda worked over his first few appearances to build endurance, then he used Monday's scrimmage to work on his cutter. He allowed three runs, including two on an opposite-field homer to left by Alex Avila.
• Maeda also hit Josh Donaldson in the right forearm area with a pitch in the fifth inning, but Donaldson shrugged off the contact and gave Baldelli and trainer Matt Biancuzzo two big thumbs up as they raced out to check on the newly acquired third baseman.
"I thought that was the end of the world for me, really," Maeda said with a laugh. "I couldn’t have done anything worse."