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Twins likely pondering options after Royce Lewis injury

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The last time Royce Lewis pulled up limping while running the bases, he missed a little more than six weeks while he recovered.

The Twins made no announcement about their third baseman's condition on Friday, but it appears likely that Lewis will be placed on the injured list before their second game of the season Saturday afternoon.

Last year, it was an oblique injury, suffered while Lewis tried to beat out an infield hit on July 1, that kept him out of the lineup. This time, it's a quad muscle that seized up on him as he headed to third base on Carlos Correa's double.

Lewis was limping as he reached the bag and was removed from the game, a 4-1 Twins victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

It could be instructive to examine how the Twins filled his spot at third base during the weeks until his return on Aug. 15. In the immediate aftermath, the team summoned José Miranda from Class AAA St. Paul to fill the void, but Miranda wasn't swinging the bat well at the time. He started four of the next five games at third base, went 1-for-10, and was returned to the Saints.

Manager Rocco Baldelli juggled four different players at the position over the next five weeks, with Willi Castro, Kyle Farmer, Donovan Solano and Jorge Polanco all getting playing time there, and only once did he use the same third baseman for three consecutive games.

Castro was the most productive of them during that span, posting an .812 OPS while at third base.

Miranda is at St. Paul again, and though still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, he enjoyed a good spring in Fort Myers. Fla., hitting .320 (8-for-25), though all but one of his hits were singles. As for the other options, Castro and Farmer remain with the team, and if Miranda doesn't get the call, figure to be in the lineup most frequently.

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Former first-round pick Brooks Lee, though normally a shortstop, would have been an intriguing option — he had a .962 OPS this spring with seven extra-base hits — but Lee suffered a back injury late in camp and will open the season on the Class AAA injured list.

If the Twins decide Miranda needs more time in the minors, Austin Martin is a logical candidate for promotion. His presence would allow Castro, who started in left field on Thursday, to work strictly in the infield, and it would give the Twins a look at one of their top prospects.

Martin, an outfielder who also has played second base in the minors, was acquired, along with righthander Simeon Woods-Richardson, in the 2021 trade-deadline deal for José Berríos.

"Great desire, great work ethic," Baldelli said earlier this month of Martin, who batted .208 (5-for-24) during spring training. "You leave having a lot of faith in a player like that helping you in the future. He's versatile. he's a guy that can help you win games in a lot of ways. He's a developing hitter. I think he's going to help us this year."