Shortstop Carlos Correa is close to returning to the Minnesota Twins, who will continue their three-game series against the host Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
Correa has been out since May 6 due to a contusion in his right middle finger, but he participated in batting practice Monday and took some ground balls.
"The last thing to come to him is really just cutting it loose, letting it go, throwing-wise," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "But even that is in a pretty good spot right now. We could see him out here this series."
Minnesota opened the series with a 3-1 win on Monday. Gary Sanchez homered, and four pitchers limited the Athletics to four hits.
Correa's return could impact rookie shortstop Royce Lewis, who has been impressive in his first 10 major-league games. Lewis is 7-for-22 (.318 average) over his last six games but could be sent back to the minors when Correa returns.
The Twins have won their first four meetings this season against Oakland, which is mired in a lengthy offensive slump.
The Athletics have an American League-worst team batting average of .199 and have scored one or no runs in four of their last five games.
"It feels like a bit of a broken record when your pitchers go out there and dominate and we can't muster up runs for a win," second baseman Tony Kemp said. "It's tough for an offense. We just have to continue to keep confident. It's not easy, but you can't let today's game factor into tomorrow."
Oakland could use a spark from infielder Sheldon Neuse, who is batting .228 this month after hitting .328 in April. Neuse has missed the past two games due to groin tightness but has been available off the bench.
While the Athletics have lost three straight and 17 of their last 24 games, reliever A.J. Puk has emerged as a high-leverage option for manager Mark Kotsay. The left-hander extended his scoreless streak to 13 1/3 innings on Monday and has not allowed a run in 11 of his 12 appearances.
Right-hander James Kaprielian (0-2, 4.97 ERA) is set to make his fourth start of the season for the Athletics. He received a no-decision after allowing two runs on three hits against the Detroit Tigers last Thursday.
Kaprielian, 28, began the season on the 10-day injured list with an inflamed right AC joint before joining the team on May 1.
After struggling in his season debut, the California native has yielded just three runs in 10 2/3 innings over his last two starts.
He made his first career appearance against Minnesota earlier this month on May 7, when he took the loss after allowing one run on three hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Minnesota is expected to start right-hander Dylan Bundy (3-2, 5.76), who will be activated off the COVID-19 injured list.
Bundy, 29, last pitched on May 4, giving up nine runs on 11 hits over 3 2/3 innings in a 9-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Bundy did not have a minor-league rehab outing, so Baldelli said Bundy will be on a pitch count for his return.
--Field Level Media