SAN DIEGO — The Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres expect to welcome back two key players as they open a brief two-game series on Tuesday.
The teams return to play one day after Minnesota traded closer Brandon Kintzler, who had 28 saves, to the Washington Nationals.
Minnesota, who is 3-6 in interleague games this season, should swing the clubhouse doors open for center fielder Byron Buxton. He completed a weekend rehab stint and it appears his groin and migraine issues are in the past.
Buxton, who has been out since July 15, is hoping to produce in the final two months of what has been a disappointing season. While he’s leading the Twins with 16 stolen bases, that is also his number of RBIs. He is hitting just .218.
The Padres, who didn’t trade All-Star reliever Brad Hand, are eager to pencil in first baseman Wil Myers into the lineup. Myers is the face of the franchise after signing the team’s richest contract ever in the offseason, but his backside has been on the bench.
San Diego manager Andy Green sat Myers for the final two games of the series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Padres not playing Monday, Myers has consumed a three-day respite in sunny San Diego.
If that doesn’t get Myers going, the Padres might be running out of ideas.
Since running out there after the All-Star break, Myers has produced a .196 average. It’s obvious Myers has been pressing, which forced Green to have a clubhouse meeting of one with a reluctant Myers.
“I think these couple of days — not by his request by any stretch, but by my judgment — should be good days for him to step back and get back after it,” Green told mlb.com.
Myers admits his swings aren’t the real issue. Just like most hitters, Myers’ obstacle comes down to the most important six inches on the diamond — between his ears.
“It’s one of those things where I have to find the right mental approach and find that confidence again,” Myers said. “I definitely think it’s going to help. I definitely don’t think it can hurt at all. I think this is one thing that can only help me.”
While San Diego’s roster is flooded with youngsters, Myers was being counted on to provide the veteran influence any club needs.
The Twins’ Jose Berrios (9-4, 3.76 ERA) will have the task of making sure Myers doesn’t break out in his first career outing against the Padres. Despite not being in the rotation coming out of spring training, Berrios has the second-most wins on the staff and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of his 14 starts.
But after prevailing in seven of his first eight decisions, Berrios has been spotty. In two of his three previous outings, he hasn’t seen the fifth inning.
He was solid his last time out while surrendering one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings in a win over the New York Yankees. Twins manager Paul Molitor said Berrios returned to the basics with his stellar effort.
“He had been working on his mechanics in between starts and then you overthink it when you get on the mound and forget that you’re a major league pitcher,” Molitor told the media after that game.
The Padres will counter with Jhoulys Chacin (10-7, 4.22), who has won four straight decisions. Against the Twins, Chacin has split two career decisions with a 5.40 ERA.