CHICAGO -- Twins center fielder Byron Buxton took a few major steps toward his return on Friday, as he took batting practice on the field and ran for the first time since sustaining a hairline fracture in his left big toe.
Buxton, who suffered the injury on April 23 after fouling a ball off his foot while on a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Fort Myers, still has some trouble cutting to his left, but had no issues running in a straight line or hitting. He took roughly 30 swings during batting practice.
"It was good to see him hit. I thought his BP went really well," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The straight-ahead running -- I think he's getting close [to returning]. We didn't have a lot of issues with the throwing and the hitting and the straight-ahead [running]. We started doing cuts and things like that, and we're still not where we need to be. The good news is, it's a better day today than yesterday."
Buxton said cutting remains the most challenging part, but that he was encouraged by the way he felt while hitting and running in a straight line. He said he believes he's only a few days away from returning and is eager to get back, as he hasn't played since April 12 and the club has struggled mightily in his absence.
"It's frustrating, just not being able to compete every day and be out there with them battling," Buxton said. "They also got my back, too. They're telling me to be smart about it and not try to rush back. I'm just trying to be as smart as possible with it and just put up with what I can tolerate as best as I can and try to get back out there as soon as possible."
Buxton added that he hasn't been told if he needs a rehab assignment, but if it were up to him, he'd get plugged back into Minnesota's lineup.
"I'd rather just play, to be honest with you," Buxton said. "But it is what it is. If I have to go back down and get some at-bats, I'll be prepared and ready to go."
Dozier, Mauer flip spots
Twins second baseman James Dozier has been scuffling recently, and Molitor said he wanted to try something different. So he switched up the batting order by having first baseman Joe Mauer lead off and Dozier hit second in Friday's game against the White Sox. It was the first game in which Dozier didn't hit first since July 30, 2016; the last time he hit second was May 31 of that year. It was the 12th time Mauer hit leadoff and the first time since Aug. 2, 2017.
"Nothing magical," Molitor said. "Kind of looking for just a little bit different feel and look. Brian's a big part of what we do, especially when we're playing well. Just trying to get him untracked a little bit, maybe give him a different look and maybe take advantage of the fact that Joe's been squaring up a lot of balls and taking his walks."
Morrison, Odorizzi visit Farquhar
Twins designated hitter Logan Morrison and right-hander Jake Odorizzi were teammates with White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar with Tampa Bay in 2016 and '17. They visited Farquhar at Rush University Hospital for several hours before Friday's game. Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage on April 21, but Morrison and Odorizzi were both encouraged by his progress after seeing him.
"He seemed like he was in great spirits," Morrison said. "I was really, really blown away, impressed, surprised by how well he's doing. Walking around, talking, doing great. He's already talking about, 'I can't believe they put me on the 60-day DL.'"
Odorizzi gave Farquhar his hat from his start against the Yankees on April 23, when he wrote 'Farq' in silver on his cap.
"It really puts life in perspective, not just baseball and friendship -- that sort of thing -- but just life," Odorizzi said. "He was telling us everything that went on behind the scenes. It's truly a miracle how everything played out, that ended up in his favor of keeping him alive like this. It was the normal Farquhar with just a scar on his head. You take the scar away, he's the same guy he's always been, so a pretty miraculous turnaround, considering it's been two weeks."