Twins tell Royce Lewis to stop stealing bases on rehab assignment

Phil Miller, Star Tribune on

Published in Baseball

Royce Lewis doubled and singled for the St. Paul Saints on Sunday, giving him three hits in his first two rehabilitation games at Class AAA.

He did not, however, try to steal a base. And he probably won't for a while either.

"I'm going to call him in about 20 minutes and tell him, 'Stop stealing bases on your rehab assignment. What are you doing?' " Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Sunday morning.

What the Twins fear Lewis is doing, or at least did before Baldelli called him, is endangering the health of his right quadriceps, which has kept him out of action for more than eight weeks. Lewis singled in the first inning of Saturday's Saints game in Buffalo, New York, and immediately stole second base, putting him in position to score when DaShawn Keirsey Jr. followed with a single of his own.

It was Lewis' first at-bat since he suffered the strained quad March 28, and while the Twins want their third baseman to ramp up his readiness to play every day, they want him to do so gradually.

Take no chances, in other words.

Still, Baldelli said, "Everything went good. It was a good first day for him back on the field."

The Twins haven't announced when Lewis will return to the major league roster and won't, Baldelli said, until they are more certain when that might be. "But he's going to play this week, and we're going to see how he's doing," the manager said.

Lewis' two hits and a run on Sunday were a good sign, and Keirsey homered, too, but it wasn't enough for the Saints to finish the series with a win. Louie Varland gave up five runs in five innings, and St. Paul fell to the Bisons 8-3.

Twins reliever Cole Sands wanted to know the exit velocity of Josh Smith's line drive Saturday afternoon, but not for the usual reason.


"Someone said it was timed at, like, 82 mph," Sands said. "I don't think that's true. It looked much harder hit."

Why did it matter to the Twins righthander? Well, because the ball wound up in Sands' glove — and about 3 inches away from his head.

"You never get used to that. Man, it comes at you quick," Sands said of the near-miss. "I've definitely been hit before, in the minors, and I've had a couple near my face. But when you're on the mound, you can't let that get into your head."

Ha, good one. But Sands was in a good mood after pitching two perfect innings, ending a rough stretch in which he allowed runs in three consecutive appearances. He had started the season strong, putting up a 1.98 ERA in April, over 13⅔ innings. But seven runs in seven May innings have more than doubled that figure to 4.35.

Making Saturday's outing even more encouraging, he said, was the fact that he hadn't pitched in eight days, never making an appearance on the team's trip to Cleveland and Washington.

"But I got hot [warmed up] in a lot of them, so I didn't feel too rusty, which was good," Sands said. "It's the best I've felt in a while, so I want to keep that going."

• Lefthander Kody Funderburk, who has given up at least one hit in nine of his last 10 appearances, was optioned to Class AAA St. Paul after Sunday's loss to Texas. The Twins will fill his roster spot Monday morning, the team announced.

• Righthander Jay Jackson, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers Sunday, the team said. He could have become a free agent but accepted the Twins' invitation to remain in the organization by joining the Saints.

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