Twins preparing Polanco for return to action

June 23rd, 2018
Minnesota Twins' Jorge Polanco hits a double off Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Sam Gaviglio during the first inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)Orlin Wagner/AP

MINNEAPOLIS -- With Twins shortstop set to come off the restricted list in the coming days, Minnesota has set a date for him to make his first Minor League start.
On Sunday, Polanco will start at designated hitter for the Class A Advanced Fort Myers Miracle, Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. The club then intends for Polanco to face in a live batting practice session and then play a game at shortstop on Tuesday.
Polanco was suspended 80 games on March 18 for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The 24-year-old shortstop hit .256 with 74 RBIs and 30 doubles last season and was an integral part of Minnesota's second-half surge.
He is due to come off the restricted list on July 2, when the Twins will begin a three-game road set in Milwaukee. Polanco's rehab schedule hit a roadblock earlier this week when it was announced that his right index finger, which he jammed in a door in early June, had become infected.
"I wouldn't say there are no problems, but he's doing well enough that he can certainly hit," Molitor said. "He threw a lot yesterday, including taking 25 ground balls with throws to first. Backhand, forehand, charged balls. Those kinds of things. We're comfortable with where we're at. I wouldn't say 100 percent, but we're working well enough for him to get out there."
Polanco is out of options, so when he comes off the restricted list he will either have to be added to the 25-man roster or placed on the 10-day DL.
"We'll see where we're at," Molitor said. "We all know it's a little bit of an odd circumstance coming off of a suspension like he is, in terms of, you know, just sort of surrounding an injury and where he'll be at. ... I don't know how unique it is, coming back from the suspension, we've lost some of the rehab time because of an injury. I don't think that we'll probably get much leeway there, but I don't think we're against trying to at least inquire."
Buxton continues to make progress
Minnesota outfielder went 1-for-4 and hit the first homer of his rehab stint at Triple-A Rochester on Friday.
Buxton, who is working his way back from a fractured big toe, has been on the 10-day DL since May 30 but has been battling the injury since April 22, when he fouled a ball off his foot.
A Gold Glove winner who posted a 5.2 bWAR in 2017, Buxton has been making adjustments to his swing during his rehab assignment. His homer on Friday came with a leg kick added to his stride in place of the toe-tap he had been using in the early part of the season.
"There's a little one there," Molitor said. "It's maybe not as big as it was a couple years back. I think he's not afraid to try different things as far as a leg kick as long as the balance stays in place. We've talked about times where he's comfortable using that and other times with two strikes you might see it taken out of the equation to see the ball a little longer, those types of things."
Minnesota is not rushing the 24-year-old Buxton, whose season has been marred by injuries that have robbed him of any consistency at the plate.
"The fact we didn't put a return date on his rehab is that it gives him a chance to figure some of these things out without having to worry too much about the results," Molitor said.