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Knee feeling better, Byron Buxton’s return to Twins imminent

CLEVELAND — When Byron Buxton landed on the injured list earlier this month with right knee inflammation, he had played in nearly every game to that point, appearing in 28 of the team’s 30 contests.

Most of that had come in center field.

When Buxton comes back from the injured list — he met the team in Cleveland on Friday morning after playing in two rehab games with the Triple-A Saints and is likely to be activated ahead of Saturday’s game — his usage is expected to be more or less similar to what it had been.

“That’s what I’m hopeful for,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Something similar to what we’ve been doing.”

And that’s music to Buxton’s ears.

After pulling back for the last couple weeks and allowing the knee to calm down — it’s the same knee he’s had surgery on twice — Buxton said his knee is in a better position to come back and be able to do what he wants to do.

That means playing center field on a regular basis.

“I was like, ‘I don’t want to have to do anything different than what I was doing,’” Buxton said. “I know that with what I was doing, this happened, but I went through spring training, then I went through the month I did before this happened. Just trying to figure out better ways to manage it.”

Buxton felt his knee flare up when he took off for second base three times during one at-bat in a game against the White Sox.

But he said he didn’t plan on pulling back on the bases or letting the flare-up prevent him from doing something that would help the team. Instead, he suggested he would just “pick and choose a little better.”

“It’s back to the point where I feel like I can go again. Just trial and error. We don’t know when or if that’ll happen again,” Buxton said. “It’s just one of those things where you’ve got to put it on the backburner and just keep trusting what we’re doing and just go play.”

Nelson Cruz lands new role

Former Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz has a new title: the slugger was named a Special Advisor for Baseball Operations on Friday, a consultant role with Major League Baseball.

In his role, he will serve as a liaison on topics concerning Latin America and in particular in his native Dominican Republic.

Cruz, who played for the Twins from 2019-21, was frequently cited as a leader among his teammates and a mentor to younger players.

“I’m extremely happy to join Major League Baseball,” Cruz said in a release. “Since I signed out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager, I’ve cared deeply about the issues affecting that country and the game as a whole. I’m excited to work with the Commissioner’s Office and the opportunity to work with young players by sharing what I have learned since I signed in 1998.”

Briefly

Bailey Ober will take the mound on Saturday against the Guardians. … The Guardians debuted their City Connect uniforms on Friday night against the Twins. The Twins, one of the last teams to get the new jerseys, will debut their own City Connects on June 14.

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