Twins' Miguel Sano (knee), Tyler Austin (back) remain out of lineup

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddie Rosario returned to the Twins' lineup for the first time in eight days Friday against the Kansas City Royals, but Miguel Sano and Tyler Austin will need more time.
Minnesota Twins designated hitter Tyler Austin (31) celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run during the second inning against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field in Minneapolis on Aug. 18, 2018. Jordan Johnson / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS - Eddie Rosario returned to the Twins' lineup for the first time in eight days Friday against the Kansas City Royals, but Miguel Sano and Tyler Austin will need more time.

Sano's sore left knee will undergo "a few more tests," Twins manager Paul Molitor said, after an initial diagnosis was for a quick return after a bruised lower leg suffered on Tuesday night in Houston.

"I was a little quick to speak about how he was the day after the injury," Molitor said. "He's still a little sore. You know how when you bend a joint quickly and past its normal range of motion, you get some stiffness and swelling in there? I'm hoping that's all it is."

Sano, who is in a 4-for-46 tailspin at the plate, suffered the injury on a hard slide into second base while trying to advance on a wild pitch by Justin Verlander.

"I think there was probably a jarring in there that has had some effects that have carried over a couple days," Molitor said. "We're going to monitor it and hopefully get him back on the field as quickly as we can."

Austin, meanwhile, is still dealing with a stiff back that caused him to leave Wednesday's game in Houston. Austin has been trying to play through a minor back condition, Molitor said, but that was aggravated while attempting a sliding catch of a foul pop near the first-base dugout.

"He's had some (back) issues before," Molitor said. "Nothing major that I know of. I just know he's been dealing with working on keeping that back on flexible as he can and as available on a day to day basis as he can. We're tyring to go slowly and be patient."

Austin's former team, the New York Yankees, hit town on Monday for a three-game series. Acquired in the Lance Lynn deal on July 30, Austin has hit seven home runs in just 20 games (70 at-bats) since being recalled from Triple-A on Aug. 10.

"I like the makeup of the individual," Molitor said. "You can see what he's about. I think he's a guy who would try to play hurt or try to make the play, regardless of consequence to his body."

Buxton call

With an off day Thursday, Molitor finally had a chance to call center fielder Byron Buxton. That call came several days after Molitor promised on Sunday that he would have a "nice conversation" with Buxton after the reigning Platinum Glove Award winner was sent home for the year rather than given a September call-up.

"That's been done," Molitor said.

How did it go?

"That's been done," he repeated.

Asked if he could shed any light on Buxton's mood as rumors swirl of a potential grievance being filed on his behalf with the players' union, Molitor keep those comments brief as well.

"He's doing well," he said. "He's doing well, all things considered."

Santana and Pineda

Twins right-handers Ervin Santana and Michael Pineda are also likely done for the year as they gather further information on their ailing right middle finger and right knee, respectively.

Santana recently had another follow-up exam with Dr. Charles Melone in New York City and was told his surgically repaired knuckle wasn't the problem. Rather, it's an irritated nerve on the inner pad of his middle finger (near the base) that has hindered his pitching ability.

"Maybe that nerve was sleeping (before) and now it's working," said Santana, who has yet to throw a baseball since being shut down on Aug. 19.

He is hopeful that with more rest he will be able to resume a throwing program before the season ends, but Twins doctors were still making their assessment. At worst, Santana believes he would be able to start throwing by December, a key point for a 35-year-old pitcher who could become a free agent if the Twins exercise their $1 million buyout on his $14 million option for 2019.

Pineda, meanwhile, is still gathering opinions on how to repair or remove the torn meniscus in his knee. He had hoped to face his former Yankees team next week, but his comeback from Tommy John surgery was sidetracked by knee pain.

"There's other things going on in there that might involve just a cleanup," Molitor said. "There's been multiple doctors that have been consulted."