MINNEAPOLIS - With protective padding on his left hand, Miguel Sano returned to the Twins' lineup Tuesday, Aug. 8, at Target Field and batted third after missing three games.

Sano was hit in the left hand by pitches twice in 11 days.

The slugger looked "timid" in batting practice Monday, manager Paul Molitor said, but was available to pinch hit in Monday's game. On Tuesday, however, Sano took an early batting practice, which Molitor said went well.

"You could see that there was more confidence and the ball was really coming off his bat," Molitor said. "He didn't take a lot of swings, which was a good sign. I think he feels like he's ready to go. We got him back in there and hopefully he gets right back in the swing of things."

Sano underwent a resonance imaging exam and CT scan on Monday, which showed no broken bones in the hand. He returned to the lineup with a .270 batting average and team-high 25 home runs.

"They've toyed with it a little bit to get it to feel right," Molitor said of the padding on Sano's left hand. "It will be a little bit of a different feel to get it to feel right and get your hands in a good position to hit, but you've just got more protection."

Polanco rebounds

In four at-bats Monday, shortstop Jorge Polanco amassed as many hits as he knocked in the entire month of July.

On the heels of a 4-for-4 performance Monday, Molitor lauded Polanco, who appears to have busted out of a month-long slump that yielded a line of 4-for-51 over 17 games.

"We're just happy to see that it's turned in the short term for him in the quality of at-bats that have resulted in some hits," Molitor said. "He's been a guy who's been out there a lot when things have been going well. When things have been going poorly, he understands to try to stay sharp any way you can. Don't get comfortable after four hits, get back to work."

Polanco's batting average dipped to a season-low .213 after his final game of the month on July 26. Since the calendar flipped, he had recorded at least one hit in five games entering Tuesday.

"I think I've found myself," Polanco said. "I've been working on what I've been struggling with. I don't think I found anything out of the ordinary that is working for me, I've just found myself and working on the things I was doing wrong."

The 24-year-old entered Tuesday's game hitting .227 after matching a career high in hits on Monday. In his final 10 July games, Polanco recorded just a single hit in 34 at-bats.

"He's getting that physical appearance like he belongs again," Molitor said. "For a while, you could see he was trying to find himself as a major league player."

Briefly

Bartolo Colon will start for the Twins Wednesday in Milwaukee, meaning he'll be slotted into the batting lineup at the National League ballpark. Colon has 25 hits in his 292 career at-bats with 162 strikeouts.