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Twins' Miguel Sano heads to Triple-A for rehab

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Miguel Sano (22) is loaded onto a cart after an apparent injury in a game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Sept. 4. Troy Taormina / SA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Rocco Baldelli can hear the eagerness in Miguel Sano’s voice. When the two chat on the phone, Sano talks more about being back with his teammates than his own progress.

Sano keeps taking steps in the right direction, progressing to Triple-A Rochester on Friday, May 10. Rochester will be his final rehab stop before his return.

“He wants to get out there and be part of this team,” Baldelli said. “He talks about winning more than he talks about how he’s feeling or his at-bats or anything like that. ‘I just want to get back, and I just want to get back and win with my teammates.’ That’s what he says. That’s the best thing you could ever hear from a guy.”

Sano’s rehab assignment for his heel injury began on April 30, meaning the Twins have a 20-day window starting then for his return. Between stops in Class-A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola, Sano is slashing .320/.367/.640 with two home runs and eight runs batted in in seven games.

Before that, the Twins had sent him down to their complex in Fort Myers, Fla., to replicate spring training, which he missed. While his return will be relatively soon, the Twins haven’t said exactly when. Baldelli said he would get a “significant” number of at-bats at the highest level of the minors before his return.

“I can’t tell you I know how many (games) it’s going to be, but it’s going to be more than a few games at Rochester,” Baldelli said. “He’s going to go, and he’s also going to play several consecutive games in a row and just get the feel of taking the field every day.”

Doubleheader pitching

Starter Kohl Stewart walked into the clubhouse on Friday afternoon, which suggests that he will be active for the Twins’ doubleheader on Saturday. But as of pregame on Friday, Baldelli wasn’t ready to share his pitching plans for the next day.

Michael Pineda will start one game, while Baldelli wasn’t yet ready to publicly commit to Stewart starting a game.

Stewart started one game for the Twins this season in Houston, giving up five runs to the Astros in six innings. In five starts at Triple-A Rochester, he holds a 4.50 earned-run average. His last start was just two innings on Tuesday, seemingly in preparation for a Saturday call-up.

Worth noting

The Twins did not activate Willians Astudillo (hamstring) for Friday’s game, though he has been eligible to come off the injured list since Wednesday. Baldelli said he didn’t have a date for his return yet but that he would be back “fairly soon.”

Catcher Jason Castro, who got hit with a pitch on the elbow on May 6 in Toronto, was not in the starting lineup for the third straight game, but Baldelli said he was available.