Minneapolis – The twins are obviously going to love it Byron Buxton To get back to a place where he’s healthy enough to hit the front and play midfield every day. He’s not there yet because he’s bringing his knee back to full strength – but that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute to this team’s winning matches.
That’s why manager Rocco Baldelli and the Twins have been constantly mixing in full days of rest and recovery for their star quarterback this month – and why they’ll continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, Buxton is still taking advantage of the opportunities he gets to contribute – and he has done so again with his 11th home of the season in Minnesota. 3-1 victory Over the Guardians at Target Field on Sunday.
“For me, as long as I can play and go out to contribute and help the team, that’s what I want to do,” Buxton said. “Some days are better than others, but this is baseball. This is your body.”
At times, this means Buxton will be completely sidelined and unavailable off the bench, as was the case in the Twins’ 3-2 loss to the Guardians in 10 runs on Saturday. He was also sidelined for five rounds of Thursday’s resumption of the suspended game on Wednesday as he dealt with both a right knee and mild hip tightness he suffered while running the bases the previous Saturday.
Buxton understands why this is all happening and accepts it, he said after Sunday’s game.
“We have a process, which is for me to stay on the field, try to play 100 games,” Buxton said. “What does that look like, who knows? But that’s what we have, a plan here, and that’s what we’re going to stick to. Anything else, outside of that, kind of doesn’t matter to us. It’s all about winning.”
Obviously, that doesn’t mean Buxton is happy about sitting out matches. He’s a fierce competitor who wants to be there with his teammates. Consider going back to September 2019, when he wasn’t able to swing due to a tear in his left shoulder, but still tried to soldier through five games as a defensive alternate sprinter to help the twins advance their playoff before eventually succumbing to end-of-season surgery.
Baldele noted that he’ll get reaction and slight exaggerations from Buxton as the midfielder tries to talk himself onto the field in those days – and while he won’t be swayed by those considerations, that’s what he wants to see.
“[He’s] I’m not always happy when I talk to him about it and we keep him out of the squad,” Baldeli said. “He honestly wants to play every day. This is his mentality and I love that mentality. I want our guys to want to play and be there. I’d rather take a guy off the field than push him onto the field all the time.”
Here’s the reality of the situation, though: Both Baldelli and Buxton note that the right knee ache that first broke out in the first slide of the foot in Boston on April 15 is still something they have to manage. At the same time, it is clearly something that does not prevent it from being effective, and it does not appear that it is something that will resolve itself in a matter of days with some relief.
So rather than not having Buxton at all while on the injured roster or pushing him too hard on his repaired knee and risking losing him for much longer, the twins are carefully navigating a solution in between. Baldeli says coaching staff, training staff and medical staff are working with Buxton to determine these schedules on a string-by-series basis.
And even after appearing in just 16 of his 29 games since that game at Fenway Park, Homer Paxton’s 369-foot off Triston Mackenzie on Sunday still came close to the MLB lead held by Aaron Judge.
This is their plan, and they will stick to it until he recovers and can be active again. Both sides are looking forward to that day.
“The reality of the matter is he’s dealing with something, and he keeps dealing with it,” Baldeli said. “And I think it is getting better, but it will not be immediate. There is no quick fix here.”
“You have to listen to your body, and that’s something I’ve started doing a little bit more, which has allowed me to stay in the field a little longer,” Buxton said. “So just trust the process and keep doing what we’re doing.”
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