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After temporary closure, Marx Fusion Bistro in Stillwater has closed permanently

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Two People At A Bistro Table.
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Longtime Stillwater dining favorite Marx Fusion Bistro and Wine Bar has closed permanently after 20 years, owners Mark and Lydia Hanson announced in a Facebook post on Monday. The restaurant, at 241 Main Street in downtown Stillwater, had been temporarily shuttered for about nine months for renovations.

“To our guests, patrons, and friends, we’ve loved providing a unique, personal dining experience to you all,” the Hansons wrote on Facebook. “Your support over the years in filling Marx with joy, laughter, and lifelong memories is something we can’t thank you for enough.”

File: Jim Harris, left, and friend Larry Nelson eat lunch at Marx Fusion Bistro in downtown Stillwater. (Jean Pieri / Pioneer Press)

In advance of the restaurant’s 20th anniversary, Marx closed temporarily after Dec. 31, 2021, for winter renovations and a menu redesign. Although the owners originally scheduled a grand reopening for April 2022, they announced in May that the opening would be pushed to June, and then ultimately delayed indefinitely due to “unforeseen issues related to the process.”

The restaurant appeared never to have reopened before the permanent closure was announced this week.

With Mark Hanson leading the kitchen, Marx was known for its creative dishes and daily specials inspired by a range of culinary cultures. In response to the closure, fans of the restaurant lamented the end of an institution that elevated the city’s dining scene. By Tuesday afternoon, nearly 250 people had commended on the Facebook post announcing the restaurant’s closure, expressing their gratitude for the restaurant and fond memories of birthdays, anniversaries, and nights out there.

If you purchased Marx gift certificates, the restaurant is reimbursing them until Nov. 15, 2022. Mail the gift card, plus a return address and a note on the original method of payment, to Mark Hanson at P.O. Box 2206, Stillwater, MN 55082.

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Protesters and supporters turn out at St. Paul library’s drag story hour

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People Hold Up Blankets On A Sidewalk.
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More than 100 people showed up to attend a drag story time at a St. Paul library Saturday morning despite reported threats to kill the librarians holding the event.

Librarians speaking at a city council meeting this week said they had received death threats from people claiming they would dress like ninjas and beat the librarians to death if the Drag Story Hour happened.

The story hour, created by Pedro Pepa, has been held more than 10 times in the Twin Cities, including performances at Powderhorn Park, Pillsbury House Theatre, Walker Art Center, The Loft Literary Center, Moon Palace Books and Wild Rumpus Books.

Organizers say the shows “are created with an empowering theme: resilience, kindness, self-love, friendship, etc.”

The event at the Arlington Hills Public Library was peaceful despite dozens who gathered outside—some protesting the event, others there to support the families that attended. At least a dozen police officers stood on a lawn nearby while other squad cars were staged in locations in the surrounding neighborhood.

Counter-protesters line the sidewalk outside the Arlington Hills Public Library holding blankets, tarps and quilts to shield children from people protesting Drag Story Hour on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in St. Paul. (Kristi Belcamino / Pioneer Press)

Library officials estimated about 30 protesters were gathered at the corner of the library’s driveway on Payne Avenue during the event while close to 100 counter-protesters supporting the event lined the sidewalk leading up to the front door holding blankets, tarps and quilts to shield the children from the protesters. They cheered as people with children arrived, escorting them from their cars or the street and welcoming them.

Katrina Dombrowsky brought her 3-year-old son to the story time specifically because it was performed by drag queens, she said.

“I wanted a fun outing for my family,” she said. “I wanted to come celebrate gender expression and have a good time.”

She said she wasn’t surprised to see the protesters but was “a little sad.”

However, when she saw the counter-protesters she got emotional.

“They showed up even stronger than the protesters. It made me feel heartened and welcomed,” she said. “I’m really glad the library is doing this. It’s important we have this program. It’s not only a window but a mirror. It’s a program that is inclusive of our diverse community so families can see themselves reflected and also experience learning about those who are different.”


Many of the protesters stationed at Payne Avenue wore masks and many wore shirts and hats identifying themselves as members of the Proud Boys, known as a far-right, neo-fascist and exclusively male organization. They describe themselves differently, saying they are “members of a pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world, aka Western Chauvinists.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the Proud Boys a hate group. They say Proud Boys members have expressed white supremacist and racist rhetoric.

Most members of the group declined to give their names to reporters Saturday.

However, one man who identified himself as Mark Ninevah held a sign that read, “Don’t care about your gender ID, lifestyle preferences. Protect our children.”

He said the Proud Boys had “gays in our group and we have all races in our group.”

“We’re not here to bash anybody,” he said. “We don’t want to hate anybody. We’re here because we don’t think this is appropriate for children.”


Protesters And Supporters Talk.
People who who showed up to support the Drag Story Hour speak to members of the Proud Boys protesting the event Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at Arlington Hills Library in St. Paul. (Kristi Belcamino / Pioneer Press)

Jack Byers was one of the counter-protesters holding up a blanket and cheering on families as they entered. He said he showed up to “support librarians and families and kids.”

“Education is about keeping an open mind. Those folks are narrow minded and they expect the world to conform to their point of view,” he said.

Interim Library Director Barb Sporlein said the library was aware of the planned protest and “coordinated with our partners to ensure a safe and successful event.”

In a written statement, Sporlein said the event was a ” joyful, family-friendly gathering where more than 100 people came to celebrate expansive gender expression and enjoy stories, music, dance, and art. Drag Story Hour performances are designed specifically for children and their caring adults and have universally empowering themes of resilience, kindness, and self-love.”

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter attended the event. On his way into the library, he stopped first to speak to members of the protest group. He thanked them for being there and told them he respected their right to express themselves.

A few of the protesters spoke to him while others derided him including one man with a megaphone who said, “I don’t want to hear anything you’ve got to say. Go on in there with the drag queen story hour that you are promoting. You’re a coward. You promote drag queens reading to children. You’re a coward.”

Then Carter moved on to greet the counter-protesters. He addressed them with a borrowed megaphone and thanked the crowd for being there.

“I respect everybody’s ability to come here and express who they are and what they believe. And if their goal is to be the only ones who get to do that then I don’t respect that very much. We don’t honor that,” he said. “If you are here to protect beauty in our community, if you are here to protect our identities and our abilities to express ourselves respectfully, then do all of these things.”

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Gophers continue to roll in dominating 34-7 win over Michigan State

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Gophers Continue To Roll In Dominating 34-7 Win Over Michigan State
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EAST LANSING, Mich. — When Michigan State’s offense finally earned a first down on its third drive Saturday, the more than 70,000 fans at Spartan Stadium gave their team a mocking cheer.

By that point, the Gophers offense had been humming along with 14 first downs and had staked a 17-0 lead.

The Spartans finally started to click to begin the third quarter but their 70-yard drive deep into Minnesota territory was dashed when Thomas Rush forced a fumble and Justin Walley recovered it.

Minnesota then put together a 90-yard touchdown drive to deflate any hope for a Spartans comeback in a 34-7 victory.

The Big Ten opener was supposed to be a stiff test after Minnesota had manhandled three inferior nonconference opponents. But it was more of the same.

Minnesota (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) was a 3-point favorite and made that look outrageously conservative against Michigan State (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten).

Minnesota had lost five straight to Michigan State since 2009, and the hadn’t traveled to East Lansing since 2013, when they lost 14-3. The Gophers had prepared for a hostile environment Saturday, but their play made it docile.

Before the Spartans earned a first down, their fans had more genuine applause for a frisbee-catching dog, who entertained during a timeout break.

The Gophers lost top receiver Chris Autman-Bell to a season-ending knee injury last week, but 10 other caught passes Saturday.

Tanner Morgan completed 23 of 26 yards for 268 yards with three touchdowns, two to Daniel Jackson and one to Nick Kallerup.

The Gophers led 17-0 at the half, and they started very fast.

Minnesota generated some big passing plays on its opening drive, with  Morgan completions to Michael Brown Stephens (11 yards), Dylan Wright (15) and Brevyn Spann-Ford (18). It was just the start.

After Mo Ibrahim had his own big gain of 21 yards on one rush, he capped the long drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. It was his 41st career touchdown, which broke a tie with Darrell Thompson for most in program history.

Minnesota doubled its lead midway through the first quarter when Morgan finding his first completion to

The Spartans punted on its opening two drives, and Minnesota’s kicker Matthew Trickett tacked on a 26-yard field goal to make it 17-0.

It was still early, but it was way more than enough.

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Twins’ Byron Buxton says he knew in April he needed knee surgery

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Twins’ Byron Buxton Says He Knew In April He Needed Knee Surgery
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Byron Buxton hit a pop up high into the sky, and as a trio of Boston fielders tried to fight the sun to locate it, the speedy center fielder raced into second base.

When he got there, it was clear something was wrong. Buxton went down on all fours, slapped the infield dirt and then hopped around before leaving the game immediately.

That was April 15 at Fenway Park, and it was on that road trip that Buxton found out that at some point, his right knee would likely require a procedure. The surgery, the Twins announced on Friday, will take place next week and will be an arthroscopic procedure to help clean up a knee issue, which the Twins have called severe tendinitis. It has been bothering Buxton all season.

“I knew what needed to happen with surgery,” Buxton said. “With that being said, you kind of push that off to the end of the season and mentally you try to go out and focus on what you can do to help the team.”

Buxton played in 92 games, and for most of them, he said it required four and a half hours of treatment just to get his knee ready and loose enough to play.  His knee often forced him out of the lineup, even with a number of days off and days at designated hitter. When he was able to play, his performance made him an all-star for the first time in his career.

Buxton finished the season hitting .224 with a .833 OPS and 28 home runs. His 4.0 bWAR (Wins Above Replacement per Baseball Reference) is second on the team behind shortstop Carlos Correa, despite playing in so many fewer games, and his 136 OPS+ (100 is league average) is the second-highest of his career.

“It was kind of like, (I) didn’t want to miss none of the season, was playing good, and, at the moment, I could play with it mentally and physically,” Buxton said. “I wouldn’t say it was nothing to worry about. But at the time, it wasn’t like it is now.”

Buxton never went on the injured list for his knee, gritting his way through the discomfort. Instead, it was a hip strain, which is expected to resolve with time, that sent him there on Aug. 23.

While the Twins were initially hopeful that Buxton could return this month, as they fell deeper out of contention, that no longer made sense.

“Probably could have came back. I’ve been in a lot of pain, but just to get to 100 games, for me, that’s not helping the team in any way, shape or form possible, in this year or the future,” Buxton said. “So it’s more of a battle within myself to understand, ‘All right, this is the best thing for you to do,’ rather than, ‘All right, this is what I want to do.’ ”

Buxton said he expects the recovery process to end up being around six to eight weeks, which he then hopes will lead into a normal offseason that will leave him ready in time for spring training.

“When I look at people who are good at what they do, playing Major League Baseball every day, I mean, he did it with a fraction of his normal strength and with really no lower half in his swing at times, without being able to run after he hit the ball on many days,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “And he still was extraordinarily productive, star-quality player. Let’s get him right. And let’s see what he can do next year over a full year.”

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City’s Puerto Ricans in ‘terrible destruction’ after Hurricane Fiona in despair over initial aid exclusion

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City'S Puerto Ricans In 'Terrible Destruction' After Hurricane Fiona In Despair Over Initial Aid Exclusion
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SAN GERMÁN, Puerto Rico – Jorge Luis Rivera, his wife and two young daughters were trapped for two days inside their home after Hurricane Fiona hit their farm, knocking down large trees and dragging down water from flood, asphalt and hard-earned crops on the sloping road in front of their property.

“It became a river, it took all the earth with it, all the asphalt. It took it all,” Rivera, 36, said in Spanish, speaking from his farm on Friday afternoon.

Landslides cut off Rivera’s farm, where it still lacks electricity and water, until heavy machinery arrived to try to clean up the destruction. Even some of the machines were damaged in the process, he said.

In San Germán, a municipality in southwestern Puerto Rico, families were trapped as tall trees in the area fell under the weight of Fiona’s winds and heavy rains, collapsing and cutting off roads. Some houses have suffered heavy damage and are without electricity and water.

Yet San Germán is among 20 municipalities initially excluded from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s request for individual assistance, based on the declaration of major disaster requested by the Governor of Puerto Rico and approved by President Joe Biden on Thursday. Most of the towns excluded were in the Southwest region, where Hurricane Fiona entered and left untold devastation.

Puerto Rican officials insist that more municipalities can be added to the major disaster declaration and request individual assistance once they have more information about the damage.

According to Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State, Omar Marrero.

“Almost All Lost”

But the residents of San Germán were frustrated that they could not immediately request individual help.

Rivera’s crops were “almost all lost”, he said, as he climbed through the green and brown wreckage of Finca Ilán Ilán, part of Puerto Rico’s agroecological movement for sustainable agriculture. . His calf-high boots were covered in mud, and he carried a machete to smash his way safely through all the debris.

Gone are the hundreds of avocados, coffee, eggplants, zucchini, and other crops that Rivera produces and sells to the community, primarily to nearby restaurants. What’s left is also wasted, as his regular customers have no electricity or water to reopen their businesses.

Jorge Luis Rivera, 36, a farmer in San Germán, Puerto Rico, who lost most of his crops to Hurricane Fiona.Daniella Silva/NBC News

“I try not to come here often, it depresses me too much,” he said, shaking his head and looking away from the wreckage of his crops. He estimates it could take him months to get power back, as it took more than five and a half months for power to return five years ago after Hurricane Maria.

The family’s generator broke down and to save what was left of the crops to feed his family, he hooked up his fridge to his car as a makeshift power source.

Nearly half of the 1.5 million electricity customers were still without power six days after the Fiona caused an island-wide blackout On Saturday morning, around 683,000 electricity customers had their electricity restored, which is about 47% of all customers, according to the Puerto Rican government’s emergency portal. Most customers who have been reconnected to the grid are in the northeast, where the storm caused less damage.

Seventy-eight per cent, or 1,035,743 customers, had their water service restored by Saturday morning, according to the Water and Sewer Authority. As of Thursday, nearly 440,000 of these customers are served by temporary generators powering some water bombs. About 292,000 customers (22%) still have no water.

“Until FEMA comes along, I don’t know how we’re going to handle this”

Adrián Vázquez Bandas, 24, said in Spanish that residents of his hometown were extremely frustrated and upset by the exclusion of FEMA assistance.

“I go out here every day and I see the need out there,” said Vázquez Bandas, an agronomist and community organizer in the southwest region of the Instituto para la Agroecología, a local nonprofit that supports agroecological collectives. “Over here we have cables on the ground, collapsed bridges. I go out with my saw, drill, screws to clear the way if I come across any fallen debris trees.

The day before, Vázquez Bandas had helped install blue tarps in the homes of eight families who live near him.

“Although we are able to provide them with the materials they need to repair their roofs, all they can do is put up these blue tarps,” he said.

Many farmers in the southern and western regions lost all their crops. Despite the dismal result, Vázquez Bandas said his first instinct was to come out and help.

“They worked as emergency volunteers, cleaning up debris, setting up blue tarps,” he said. “They tell me they’d rather go out there and help than stay on their farms and mourn their loss.”

On Friday afternoon, 69-year-old Carmen Vázquez Ramos stood inside what was left of her wooden house as rain poured down in San Germán. Part of the house was destroyed by the storm, the mangled remains of its thin metal roof covering what was once a small wooden structure painted a brilliant sky blue. The washing machines disappeared with it, and the bathroom and kitchen were also damaged.


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Minneapolis couple completes canoe and bike trek around perimeter of Minnesota

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A Woman Stands By A Trail Sign.
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Last September, a Minneapolis couple pedaled and paddled through Grand Forks, N.D., on the first leg of a bicycle-and-canoe trek around Minnesota that started Aug. 2, 2021, on the St. Croix River and would take them as far as Rainy Lake before they called it a season in mid-September.

When Tony and Kathy Mommsen traveled by bicycle, Tony would tow their canoe on a makeshift trailer. When paddling, the couple would carry their Trek 520 touring bicycles onboard their 18½-foot Wenonah Odyssey canoe.

The trip took them on an east-to-west route across southern Minnesota and eventually down the Red River to Kittson County in northwest Minnesota and east through such communities as Hallock, Badger, Roseau and Warroad.

They arrived at Rainy Lake on Sept. 14, 2021.

This summer, the Mommsens finished the trek — more or less — but instead of traveling with both canoes and bicycles, they divided the trip into two parts, pedaling from Grand Portage, Minn., to St. Croix Falls, Wis., from July 15 until July 21.

Kathy Mommsen of Minneapolis stands by a sign marking the entrance to the Grand Portage in August 2022 on the home stretch of a canoe-and-bicycle trip that took Kathy and her husband, Tony, around the perimeter of Minnesota. The Mommsens passed through Grand Forks in early September 2021 on the first leg of their trip, which last year took them as far as Rainy Lake. They finished up the trip in July and August this year. (Courtesy of Tony Mommsen)

Then, on July 29, friends gave them a ride to Crane Lake, where they launched their canoes and paddled along the Minnesota-Ontario border, arriving back at Grand Portage on Aug. 10.

“It was great just paddling — without bikes,” Tony Mommsen said. Including last year’s adventure, they spent 35 days canoeing — about 620 miles — and 30 days biking — about 1,100 miles — he says.

A semi-retired graphic artist and web designer, Tony said the inspiration for their around-the-state trek came from a podcast he’d heard about a bike rider who had pedaled around Texas.

Traveling the perimeter of Minnesota seemed like a perfect fit for the couple, who both are avid bicycle and canoe campers. Kathy is a ceramic artist.

Originally, Tony says, they had planned to start this year’s trip in June, picking up where they left off on Rainy Lake. Near-record flooding on Rainy Lake and family issues forced them to delay the trip until July.

“We were pinched for time, so we skipped Rainy Lake and Voyageurs National Park,” Tony said. “We may do that next summer.”

They opted to start in Grand Portage and bike down the North Shore, Tony says, in hopes that the flooding along the Minnesota-Ontario border would subside by the time they launched their canoe.

Plus, they were able to leave a vehicle near Grand Portage, which would then be waiting for them when they completed the canoe portion of their trip.

That simplified the logistics.

“We couldn’t even imagine bringing those bikes down Highway 61 pulling the canoe,” Kathy said of biking down the North Shore. “We had involved so many people with our original shuttles, and we kept changing because the weather kept changing. And it just was like, ‘OK, we have to get this simpler’ — it just got too complicated.”

The second leg of the trip — from Crane Lake and through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to Grand Portage — was a longtime “bucket list” trip of theirs, Tony says, even though it meant crossing 40 portages before reaching their destination.

From Crane Lake, the trip along the border took them through such bodies of water as Loon Lake, Lac La Croix, Basswood Lake, Knife Lake, Saganaga Lake, Gunflint Lake and the Pigeon River before arriving at Grand Portage.

The voyageurs traveled that route because there was minimal portaging until they got closer to Grand Portage, Tony says.

“There’s some big portages farther east but for the most part, it’s just a lot of great paddling and easy portaging, so it’s beautiful,” he said.

The paddling portion of the trip wasn’t without its challenges, though. Because of all the flooding- and weather-related schedule changes, they had to redo their BWCA permits a half-dozen times.

In addition, an aluminum bracket holding the bow seat in place broke near Basswood Lake, and they had to prop the seat up with a log they carried with them for the remainder of the trip, adding to the weight of the gear they carried across portages.

They carried their food, mainly dried goods such as soup mixes, chili and oatmeal, in bear-proof canisters, which now are required for travelers in the BWCA.

They were hoping to repair the seat at Gunflint Lodge, but while that didn’t work out, they were able to drop off a backpack they didn’t need, removing about 30 pounds of unneeded weight for the last five days of the trip. They picked up the pack before heading back to the Twin Cities.

Trip highlights — and there were many — included ancient pictographs on Lac La Croix and an abundance of blueberries, which likely benefited from the wet conditions.

A Canoe Next To A Rock Cliff.
Tony Mommsen of Minneapolis admires a pictograph painting of a moose on Lac La Croix on the Minnesota-Ontario border during the second leg of the canoe and bicycle trip he and his wife, Kathy, made around the perimeter of Minnesota in summer 2022. (Courtesy of Kathy Mommsen)

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” Tony said. “You’d sit down and just pick. You didn’t even have to move. The bears must have loved it.”

Parking their vehicle at Grand Portage National Monument, where it stayed for nearly a month, allowed them to avoid portaging the full 8½ miles of the Grand Portage; 5 miles was far enough, Tony says.

“I didn’t really need the whole experience,” he said.

They did, however, bike the portion they didn’t portage to start the trip, Kathy says.

With their trip around Minnesota complete, the Mommsens say they’d someday like to spend more time in the BWCA and adjacent Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario exploring all of the pictographs, an adventure that could take at least a month.

“They are always on the prettiest parts of the prettiest lakes, so it would be amazing,” Tony said. “And there’s a lot of pictographs we haven’t seen.”

With kids and grandkids both in Atlanta and New Mexico, adventures farther south also are a possibility.

For now, though, that’s in the future.

“We’re just kind of enjoying the trip we just did,” Kathy said.

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Luis Robert’s season is over after the Chicago White Sox place the center fielder on the IL with a wrist injury

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Luis Robert’s Season Is Over After The Chicago White Sox Place The Center Fielder On The Il With A Wrist Injury
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Luis Robert will not return this season after the Chicago White Sox placed the center fielder on the 10-day injured list Saturday with a sprained left wrist.

Before the announcement, Robert had started just six of the team’s 26 games since Aug. 26 because of a bruised left hand, left wrist soreness and a Sept. 2-3 stint on the paternity list.

The IL stint comes with 11 games remaining for the Sox, who entered Saturday eight games back in the American League Central.

“Luis, similar to a handful of other guys out there, deserves a lot of credit for trying to fight through the pain and contribute as much as he could over the past couple of weeks,” general manager Rick Hahn said Saturday.

“Given the fact the discomfort seems to be persisting, I think you’ve all seen it as various at-bats and games have gone on, and the way games have played out the past week, we feel it’s better just to shut him down and get him completely healthy, which is expected to occur with the passage of time.”

Robert exited an Aug. 12 game against the Detroit Tigers with a sprained left wrist after attempting to steal second base in the sixth inning. He returned to the lineup Aug. 20.

Robert swung one-handed during a couple of his at-bats Aug. 25 against the Orioles in Baltimore and didn’t make another start until Sept. 5 against the Mariners in Seattle.

The next night, he got hit while swinging at the first pitch of his second-inning at-bat against the Mariners. He continued the at-bat after being evaluated by the training staff and did not swing again, eventually striking out looking.

He took two strikes and a ball in his fifth-inning at-bat, then swung with one hand and missed to strike out in the fifth. He left with the bruised left hand.

“Unfortunately I think the hit by pitch was a real factor,” Hahn said. “He was making real good progress before then. Given that it was what we were originally dealing with — a sprain and wrist — and repetitive use was going to be a challenge over time while you’re ramping back up.

“So it’s conceivable had he not been hit by a pitch, it would have starting barking at some point, but certainly getting hit accelerated the pain response in that area.”

Robert slashed .284/.319/.426 with 12 homers, 56 RBIs, 54 runs and 11 stolen bases in 97 games. But he was 1-for-28 (.036) since Aug. 25 after slashing .407/.462/.627 in his previous 17 games.

“I’m sure (head trainer) James (Kruk) in the back of his head or the doctors in the back of their heads are concerned about all scenarios, but the highest probability is with time he’ll be fine,” Hahn said. “They’ve done a lot of studies on that.

“And Luis has seen three different specialists just to confirm that everyone is on the same page. At this point, the overwhelming belief is that with the passage of time, the issue will resolve itself and he’ll be fine.”

The Sox recalled outfielder Mark Payton from Triple-A Charlotte, reinstated reliever Joe Kelly from the family medical leave list and optioned pitcher Tanner Banks to Charlotte.


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