Escobar nearing return after hamstring injury

Shortstop has been able to avoid 15-day disabled list

Escobar nearing return after hamstring injury

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar ran sprints in the outfield to test out his strained left hamstring before Wednesday's game against the A's, and he is getting closer to making his return.

Escobar, who sustained the injury while running the bases on Saturday, has been able to avoid the 15-day disabled list because it's considered a minor strain. He should be ready to return this weekend, according to Twins manager Paul Molitor.

The Twins have been playing with a short bench in Escobar's absence, but they went from eight relievers to seven after calling up first baseman/designated hitter Kennys Vargas from Triple-A Rochester on Monday.

"He's doing better," Molitor said of Escobar. "When he got hurt, everyone thought going on the DL would be too long. I'm hoping with his work this morning, he's at least available in an emergency. I would think tomorrow he'd be a little bit more ready. But he's been getting better."

Center fielder Byron Buxton was also held out of the lineup in Wednesday's series finale after he ran into the center-field wall to make a catch in the seventh inning of Tuesday's 11-4 win over Oakland. Buxton had missed the prior two games after making a similar running catch into the wall on Saturday, but Molitor said he's fine and is expected to return to the lineup on Thursday.

Buxton crashes into the wall

"He said there were no issues," Molitor said. "Today was one of those tricky days as far as who to play, because we played late. It makes sense to play the guys who didn't play last night and get some fresh bodies out there."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.