TORONTO -- Rookie center fielder Byron Buxton, who has been out since June 24 with a sprained left thumb, could start a rehab assignment as early as Friday with Triple-A Rochester, Twins manager Paul Molitor said Wednesday.
Buxton, ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by MLB.com, has been playing in simulated games this week at the club's Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla. But instead of starting his rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Fort Myers, Buxton will head to Rochester.
"He's doing well with the sim games in Florida," Molitor said. "I don't want to say he's 100 percent, but he's doing everything. We're going to try to get him out of there in a couple days."
Buxton, 21, hit .189/.231/.270 with a triple, a double and a stolen base in 11 games with the Twins before being placed on the 15-day disabled list. He initially injured his thumb on a slide on June 23, but played on June 24 before hitting the DL on June 26.
It'll mark the first time Buxton will see action at Triple-A, as he was promoted straight from Double-A Chattanooga. He hit .283/.351/.489 with six homers, seven doubles, 12 triples and 20 stolen bases in 59 games with Chattanooga before getting called up.
Rochester is on the road until Aug. 14, as the Red Wings start a three-game series in Charlotte that begins on Friday before heading to Buffalo. Considering Buxton has been out for more than a month, he'll likely need at least a week to 10 days before he's activated from the DL.
• With their offense scuffling, the Twins shuffled their lineup against the Blue Jays on Wednesday, moving Aaron Hicks into the leadoff spot for the second time this season and Brian Dozier to the No. 2 spot. Molitor said he's not sure if he'd stick with Hicks atop the lineup going forward.
"I looked at a couple or more scenarios," Molitor said. "You try to balance making it different but not too crazy. If you look at what Brian's done, he's a very impactful guy atop the lineup so taking him out of there wasn't any chance. But I thought we scuffled enough that I thought if we were going to do something we might as well try it."