Twins forced to move forward without Buxton

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins were hoping to add a healthy Byron Buxton back to the starting lineup in the near future but his return will be delayed even further after he suffered a setback during a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester.

Buxton injured his hand during a swing Thursday night and underwent X-rays Friday morning that came back negative. Buxton was expected to undergo an MRI exam, which should determine the next course of action.

“The optimism would be that it’s just a minor strain, whether it’s tendon related or whatever,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We’ll get more going forward. We haven’t decided on the DL down there or what we’re going to do. It’s the 7-day instead of the 10-day. We’re going to get a little more information before we decide what the next step is.”

Buxton had a breakout season in 2017, batting .253 with 16 home runs, 29 stolen bases and 51 RBIs while winning a Gold Glove Award for his defensive work center. But a pair of toe injuries have sidetracked him this season and in 28 games, he was batting just .156 without a home run.

“It’s when they keep coming, they get challenging,” Molitor said of Buxton’s injuries in 2018. “Probably will have to get your mind around it. Can’t feel sorry for yourself. If it is something you got to deal with, whether it is two days or five days or 10 days, just do the next thing that you need to do.”

A healthy Buxton would be a big boost for a Twins team that’s in the midst of its best stretch of the season. Minnesota has won nine of its last 10 games, including three in a row, and goes into a Saturday matinee with Tampa Bay 7 1/2 games back of Cleveland in the AL Central.

To keep the momentum going, the Twins will need to get past Rays right-hander Chris Archer, who returned from the disabled list Monday and allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings against Detroit — his shortest start since Sept. 8.

“I’m knocking some rust off,” Archer said after the outing, his first since June 5. “I think my stuff’s going to get crisper and crisper and the results will be better next time.”

Archer was on a roll before the injury. He had posted a 2.91 ERA over his last nine starts — a number that was inflated by a six-run outing against the Orioles on May 12 — with 52 strikeouts and only 18 walks in 55 2/3 innings of work.

He’s 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA in eight career starts against the Twins, who counter with Jose Berrios.

Berrios learned earlier this week that he’s headed to his first All-Star Game after going 8-7 with a 3.54 ERA through 18 starts.

“I put it in my mind, that goal, at the beginning of the season — to try to make the All-Star Game,” Berrios said. “So I worked for that. I got myself prepared to be ready every start out there and try to help the team win. I give my 100 percent, and that’s why I deserve this right now.”

He held the Royals to a run on six hits and struck out eight over seven innings this past Monday but is 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in two previous starts against the Rays.