Kepler could return this weekend, knows he must play through pain

The swelling in his broken right little toe is gone and the pain has receded. Max Kepler took fly balls in the outfield on Wednesday, ran the bases Thursday, and took batting practice both days.

Is it time for Kepler, who hasn’t played since he was hit on the foot by a Rony Garcia pitch on July 24 against Detroit, to return to the lineup?

“It’s soon. It’s soon. As we know, this is an injury that’s basically you playing to your own [pain] tolerance,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Could he be back this weekend? It’s possible.”

It didn’t seem so a week ago, which surprised the Twins’ right fielder. “I’ve never broken anything before, so it was a shock,” Kepler said. “The pain I was dealing with the first was not very bearable for me personally. But it’s not going to heal until the season’s over, so I’m going to have to deal with it and play through it.”

  • Kyle Garlick was the latest outfielder to go on the injured list, officially sidelined Thursday with soreness in his ribs that Baldelli attributed to irregularities in the cartilage. “He has a cartilage fracture — I’ve never heard of that in my entire life,” Baldelli said of the injury Garlick suffered by running into the fence in San Diego last Friday while trying to save a home run. “He tried to play through it, to see if that was possible,…

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