Kenta Maeda pitches well in rehab start for Saints, who fall to Storm Chasers – Twin Cities

For the second time in as many nights, the St. Paul Saints’ lineup featured the return of a prominent major leaguer. First Byron Buxton on Tuesday, then Kenta Maeda on Wednesday.

Maeda looked sharp in his return, his first start since he was added to the injury list on May 22 with an adductor strain, throwing 54 pitches in four innings and striking out five batters as the Saints lost 5-2 to the Omaha Storm Chasers. Maeda’s only blemish came in the top of the fourth inning, allowing a solo home run to Ryan O’Hearn. It was the only hit he allowed in his brief stint. He also walked one.

“(I) felt great out there. All my pitches felt great coming off my hand,” Maeda said through an interpreter. “Fastball velocity was back, so that was another good note.”

Maeda noted all his pitch velocities had been down because of the injury and the movement on his off-speed pitches was suffering too, but everything was back to normal Wednesday.

The rehab start stuck to the parameters laid out by Twins manager Rocco Baldelli earlier this week, who hoped to keep him between 50-55 pitches. While Baldelli wouldn’t say whether it would be Maeda’s only rehab outing, Maeda said after the game he is ready to return.

“I don’t think another rehab start is necessary at this point,” Maeda said. “How I pitched and how I felt, everything felt great. So I think I’m ready to get back.”

In nine starts for the Twins this season, Maeda is 2-2 with a 5.27 earned-run average.

Jhoan Duran pitched 4 1/3 innings in relief and was credited with the loss. He gave up two earned runs on six hits while striking out six.

The Saints could only muster four hits and squandered several bases-loaded opportunities. First baseman Sherman Johnson was the lone bright spot, hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning.

Buxton scratched

Byron Buxton was scheduled to start in center field for the Saints on Wednesday but was scratched prior to first pitch following a 78-minute rain delay.

His absence was nothing more than a precaution, the Twins announced, as the delay and wet field conditions gave them enough pause to hold him out. Buxton, who is recovering from a right hip strain, is scheduled to play in the field Thursday for the Saints.

Buxton went 2 for 3 with a triple and a walk in his return to professional action during Tuesday’s 4-1 Saints win. Buxton said Wednesday that his hip feels 100 percent but he was still “a little off” at the plate despite the solid stat line.

“I know I need time. Obviously yesterday to everybody my at-bats looked good, but to me they didn’t feel too good. It’s just one of those things where for me it’s me just going out there and being 100 percent and feeling myself,” he said.

Buxton hoped to get some work in the field Wednesday and test the hip in the field, but he’ll have to wait at least one more day.

Baldelli previously said he’d like Buxton to play two games in the field before returning to the team.

“I’m pumped to just get out there and run around in the field, whether it does get sore or not,” Buxton said. “That’s for me to know the pain management and what I can do to tolerate or push it or just lay off of it and let it rest.”

Twin Cities