The knee pain that Byron Buxton felt during his rehab assignment in St. Paul wasn't just a case of patella tendonitis, as the Twins first believed. A part of the lining around his right knee had also become inflamed — but that's a good thing. That, the Twins' medical staff could treat with a cortisone shot, which Buxton received on Sunday.
The result? "My impression [is] that he's going to play again this year," Nick Paparesta, the Twins' head athletic trainer, said.
Only 18 days remain in the Twins' season, but that's enough time for Buxton to recover, Paparesta said. If Buxton is fully healthy, he said, "We'll make it happen."
The Twins had prescribed simple rest and light workouts when Buxton first experienced the soreness on Sept. 1, two days after playing center field for the Saints, his first action in the outfield in more than a year. But a week later, Buxton's surgically repaired right knee still hurt when he rotated on it while batting.
"Conservative treatment for that week or so wasn't really getting the job done," Paparesta said, "so we needed to kind of take it to that next level."
The cortisone injection, aimed at quelling the pain in the lining of his knee below the patella tendon, called the medial plica, should take care of that, and Buxton will begin doing some rotational exercises on Thursday.
"I'll have a better idea after the Chicago series of where we're at in regards to his activity level," the trainer said. "We need to make sure [the pain] is cleared up and he feels strong and confident in that before we get rolling ahead."
On the mend
Chris Paddack struck out six Midland RockHounds over four innings for Class AA Wichita on Tuesday, his second rehab start as he returns from Tommy John elbow surgery. The righthander allowed four hits, including a home run, and two runs in a 58-pitch stint.
"Chris came out of it pretty well. Performance-wise, everything was where we wanted it to be," Paparesta said.
Paddack, hoping to rejoin the Twins before season's end, will throw in the bullpen in Wichita later this week, and will pitch out of the bullpen for the Saints next week.
Other injury updates:
— Righthander Jorge Alcala pitched in relief of Paddack on Tuesday, facing four batters and retiring two of them, one by strikeout. He'll pitch again for the Wind Surge this week, and will join St. Paul next week as he returns from a forearm strain that has sidelined him since April.
— Michael A. Taylor, out two weeks with a strained right hamstring, traveled with the team to Chicago after Wednesday's game and will be activated during the weeklong road trip. Taylor ran the bases Wednesday "and we'll see how he bounces back" from the workout on Thursday, Paparesta said.
— Infielder Jose Miranda was examined by orthopedic surgeon Jeffrey Dugas in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday, and will undergo a surgical procedure on his shoulder impingement on Thursday.
— Joey Gallo took ground balls and ran the bases this week, and will join the Saints next week on his own rehab assignment.
Saints fall to Iowa
St. Paul Saints starter Simeon Woods Richardson pitched five innings of one-run ball against the Iowa Cubs on Wednesday, but a late rally fell short in a 4-3 road loss. Yunior Severino homered in his third consecutive game, his 10th with the Saints and 34th of the season, tied for the minor league lead.
The Twins will playoff tickets on sale at their website, twins.com/postseason, on Monday at 10 a.m. Fans will be allowed to buy strips for all 14 games, the maximum number that Target Field could host, and they will be refunded for any games that aren't played. If the Twins win the AL Central, their playoffs will open at home against a wild-card team on Oct. 3.