Byron Buxton not ready to return just yet

Twins center fielder Byron Buxton’s activation from the injured list has been delayed by what manager Rocco Baldelli described as “residual soreness” after completing his rehab assignment with the St. Paul Saints.

Buxton traveled with the team to Seattle, and the Twins will treat him “day by day right now,” Baldelli said. The Twins activated starter Kenta Maeda and utilityman Luis Arraez from the IL while also placing two more players, Michael Pineda and Rob Refsnyder, on it.

Baldelli said Buxton at times refrained from running full speed to “maybe protect himself a little bit,” during his three-game rehab assignment in St. Paul. Buxton played Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at CHS Field went 5 for 9 at the plate with a pair of home runs and seven RBIs.

Before Monday’s late game in Seattle, Baldelli said the Twins were planning on putting Buxton through a full baseball workout, letting him hit, throw and “run around and shag a little bit.”

“There’s a reasonable chance we’re going to do the same thing with him tomorrow and once we do that, we can get a pretty good idea of really where he’s at and if he can cut it loose or get close to really cutting it loose at that point,” the manager said.

While the Twins did activate two key members of their roster, they will be without one of their most consistent starting pitchers and one of their best options to replace Buxton in center field.

Pineda, who left Sunday’s game with forearm tightness, was placed on the injured list as expected. Baldelli said Sunday the Twins would need to give Pineda a period of rest as he deals with the issue, which is described as muscular in nature. Pineda traveled with the Twins on their road trip so they could keep an eye on how he was progressing.

It’s the second stint on the injured list this season for Pineda and Refsnyder, who suffered a concussion in late May, then strained his hamstring on June 8, the day he had come off the injured list. Refsnyder played on Sunday before being placed on the IL a day later.

“He tried to get it loose. He got worked on in the training room, but we realized pretty quickly that he was not going to be able to go out there and run hard today with what he was dealing with,” Baldelli said. “His hammy was going to keep him off the field for at least a few days after playing yesterday.”

VOTING UPDATE  

Though Buxton hasn’t played in more than a month, his hot start to the season has still made him popular among fans in the first round of all-star game fan balloting. As of Monday afternoon, when the first batch of results was released, Buxton ranked third among American League outfielders, trailing just Mike Trout and Aaron Judge at the position.

New this year, the top nine vote-getters in the outfield — and top three at other positions — will advance to the second phase of voting, and that round of voting will then determine who starts the July 13 game at Coors Field in Colorado. The first phase of voting will conclude on June 24 and the group who will move on will be announced on June 27. Mitch Garver is ninth among AL catchers, Josh Donaldson is 10th at third base and Nelson Cruz is seventh among designated hitters.

CRUZ HOMECOMING

The last time the Twins traveled to Seattle more than two years ago, Cruz was dealing with a wrist injury that forced him off the field. This time, Cruz is healthy and planning on savoring his time in his former hometown. Cruz played for the Mariners for four seasons (2015-18) and was an all-star for three of them.

“It’s going to be fun and I’m going to try to enjoy it,” the Twins’ designated hitter said ahead of the series opener.

Among his meetings on Monday to talk about his Boomstick23 Foundation, Cruz had lunch with Mariners owner John Stanton, a big supporter of his charitable organization.

“We’re really close friends. He went to the Dominican a few years ago and he brought a bunch of equipment for kids. Gloves, baseballs, bats, all kinds of stuff. And we still have it,” Cruz said. “…  And definitely, it’s nice to have a relationship with the organization.”

BRIEFLY

Baldelli said everything went well with the first day of Max Kepler’s rehab assignment on Sunday. The Saints have Monday off and Kepler is expected to continue rehabbing on Tuesday.

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