MINNEAPOLIS -- Left fielder Josh Willingham took batting practice on the field before Tuesday's game against the Red Sox without any issues, and is nearing a rehab assignment.
Willingham, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a small fracture in his left wrist retroactive to April 7, also took batting practice on the field on Saturday before taking a break on Sunday.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire watched Willingham take batting practice, and came away encouraged by what he saw, but cautioned Willingham could need a lengthy rehab assignment because he hasn't played in more than a month.
"He was whacking it pretty good. I talked to him and his hand feels good," Gardenhire said. "I asked him if he's going to wear some sort of guard, but he didn't think so other than maybe when running the bases. So he's moving on the up and up here. So a few more days of BP on the field and then we'll get him on a rehab. He needs some at-bats, so it'll take some time, but we're happy to have him on the field for BP."
Buxton's MRI shows aggravation of old wrist injury
MINNEAPOLIS -- Top prospect Byron Buxton had an MRI exam on his left wrist in the Twin Cities on Tuesday, and the exam showed he aggravated his original wrist injury from Spring Training.
Buxton, ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by MLB.com, originally sprained the pisotriquetral joint in his wrist while diving for a fly ball in center field during a Minor League Spring Training game on March 16.
He re-injured it on Thursday while sliding into a base in his fifth game of the year at Class A Advanced Fort Myers. He was placed on the 7-day Minor League disabled list on Sunday as a result.
Buxton flew to Minnesota to have his wrist examined by team doctors and hand specialist Dr. Thomas Varecka on Tuesday, and will head back to Fort Myers, Fla., to work out at extended spring training, but the Twins don't have a timetable for his return to game action yet.
"It was an aggravation of his injury, but it's not any worse, just aggravated," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "He'll head back down to Fort Myers and work out at extended until it feels better basically."
Buxton returned to action in extended Spring Training on April 26 before being activated from the Minor League disabled list at Class A Advanced Fort Myers on May 4. He hit .150 (3-for-20) with a double, a homer and two RBIs in five games before suffering the injury on Thursday.
The Twins are hopeful the injury won't keep him out as long as last time, but it's still too early to tell, according to Antony.
"We hope not and [the doctors] don't think so, but you never know," Antony said. "We can't rule anything out. They don't believe so, but whenever you have a situation like this with hands or wrists, it just depends on the individual."
Santana makes first career start in center
MINNEAPOLIS -- With Aaron Hicks struggling at the plate, rookie Danny Santana made his first career start in center field on Tuesday against the Red Sox.
Santana, a natural shortstop, has 23 games of experience in center field in the Minors, but none since playing two games there in 2012. He played three innings in center in Sunday's 4-3 win over the Tigers, as he delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh and replaced Hicks in center.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he wanted to get Santana's bat in the lineup, as he's off to a hot start, hitting .421 with three doubles in the first seven games of his career. Gardenhire added Santana spent time doing early work in center field before Sunday's game and again on Tuesday.
"He moves really well and sees the ball well," Gardenhire said. "He played it in the Minor Leagues. So we're happy with him. He brings some life to us. He can run, he can throw. He can do it."
Hicks, meanwhile, has been mired in a slump, and is hitting just .160/.303/.235 with one homer and three doubles in 27 games. Gardenhire said he'll still find time to give Hicks starts in center field, but wanted to give him a break on Tuesday.
"He's fighting it," Gardenhire said. "His numbers are just not there right now. He needs to use the whole field a bit better. He's pull happy sometimes and overswings a little bit. But it's just some of the things young hitters go through. So we're just trying to go with guys who can get on base against the Red Sox, who are a very good team. But Hicksy will get his chances."
Fuld making encouraging progress from concussion
MINNEAPOLIS -- Outfielder Sam Fuld said he's making good progress with his concussion symptoms, but has yet to start doing any baseball activities.
Fuld, who was placed on the 7-day concussion list on Thursday, said that Tuesday was the best he's felt since sustaining his concussion on May 2, when he ran into the center-field wall while making a catch to rob Orioles third baseman Manny Machado of extra bases.
Fuld played in six games after suffering the concussion, and said the symptoms gradually got worse, as he experienced headaches, fogginess and sensitivity to light and sound. But he said those symptoms have started to subside.
"I definitely felt them leading up to today, but I felt like today I turned a corner," Fuld said. "It's been progressing all along, but today, in particular, the symptoms are really minimal."
Fuld added it was the first concussion he's ever suffered, and that it hasn't been easy to deal with for many reasons.
"I think it's tough on several levels," Fuld said. "It's tough that the rehab is to do absolutely nothing. Off the field you're not supposed to watch TV or read. So it's tough. And it's hard to predict, so you have to take it day by day and not look too far ahead."
The earliest date Fuld could return would be Thursday, but he said it's too early to predict when he'll be activated. He also said he'd be in favor of adding extra padding to the wall in center field, as Aaron Hicks suffered a concussion on a similar play in center field the night before Fuld suffered his concussion.
"I wouldn't mind that at all," Fuld said. "It's definitely harder than I anticipated it being. I've never heard an argument against making it softer, so I wouldn't be opposed to that at all."