Buxton nearing rehab assignment for Twins

August 24th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- is nearly ready to return to the field.

The Twins' center fielder could begin a rehab assignment in the coming days after successfully participating in a wide variety of baseball drills, including hitting off a velocity machine and running around at full speed. He also took batting practice during Thursday's off-day at Target Field.

"He's pretty much able to take part in everything we would want him to do," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He took part in everything, felt good, and I think we're getting to a point where he can go out sometime soon and play in some rehab games and see how he's feeling."

Buxton has been on the injured list since Aug. 3 with a left shoulder subluxation (partial dislocation) after crashing into the outfield fence at Marlins Park while attempting to catch a ball in the right-center-field gap. He had previously missed 10 games in late July with concussion-like symptoms.

In further positive injury news for the Twins, MRIs on 's tight right hamstring showed no damage after the left fielder was removed from Wednesday's game as a precaution. He wasn't in Friday's lineup against the Tigers, but he took batting practice and Baldelli expected that he could be available for the game depending on the results of his pregame activity.

(left oblique strain) and (right thumb dislocation) are also making positive progress in their rehab assignments with Triple-A Rochester and Double-A Pensacola, respectively.

"There's been no setbacks in any way," Baldelli said. "They've been able to handle everything we've asked them to do. They'll continue to play right now. I think they're getting to the point where they could be available to us as options very soon if we needed them."

The mystery of 'Astudillo'

Some of the nicknames in the Twins' clubhouse this year for Players' Weekend raise some questions, and rightly so. Where did come up with "Red Finger"? (He doesn't actually know.) Where does the "sauce" in "Garv Sauce" come from for ? (High school slang, he thinks.)

But the most pressing question might actually concern a nickname that is so glaringly absent that even several players are at a loss for an explanation.

Though Astudillo is currently on a rehab assignment in Triple-A Rochester, his locker is still made up on the right side of the entrance to the Twins' clubhouse, his No. 64 jersey hanging up like those of his teammates. The only problem: It says "Astudillo." "La Tortuga" is nowhere to be found, much to the consternation of Twins fans on social media.

What's up with that, anyway?

With Astudillo himself not around to answer the question, his teammates can only speculate.

"I can't wait to ask him," Ehire Adrianza said. "He's not here, obviously, but I was wondering why he didn't put not just the name, but even the [turtle] emoji."

An attempt was made at a quick survey of Astudillo's lockermates and Venezuelan friends around the team for an explanation. Nobody could come up with one.

"I don't know, maybe it's because he's not going to be here?" Martin Perez mused. "I think he's not coming, so that's why he put the last name."

But rehab assignment or not, Astudillo still had the chance to at least choose a nickname. So that theory went out the window.

"I haven't asked him," Marwin Gonzalez said. "It's interesting. It's a good question. When I saw his jersey yesterday, I wondered why he wouldn't."

Gonzalez, who has the locker to Astudillo's left, called over Jake Cave to see if he had any idea. Cave, who owns the other neighboring locker, was equally confused.

"Yeah, we've got to figure that out," Cave said, his brow furrowing. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah."

Perhaps Astudillo simply forgot to lock in a nickname. That's what happened to Gonzalez, after all. Gonzalez said that he usually prefers to go with "Margo" but had to default to "Gonzo" because he wasn't paying close attention to the deadline.

"Probably, yeah," Gonzalez said. "Sometimes, they'll put the full name for you because they ask two months ahead and they give you a deadline. Probably, he forgot."

But that theory, too, went out the window when a team employee said Astudillo, had, in fact, made the conscious decision to go with "Astudillo."

That begs the question: Does Astudillo simply not like the nickname that he's had since he was a young player in Venezuela? Is the legend of La Tortuga ultimately destined for a rebranding?

"I don't know," Adrianza said. "I think he loves to be called La Tortuga, but maybe he doesn't like it too much."

He paused and reached for his phone.

"I'm going to ask him right now," Adrianza said. "I'm going to text him and say, 'Hey, man, what happened?' It was going to be good to see La Tortuga there."