Twins Expect Byron Buxton Back This Weekend

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Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins have been without Byron Buxton since May 2 when he was placed on the injured list due to right knee inflammation. He pulled up following a steal attempt against the Boston Red Sox and the worst was definitely feared. Now, just over two weeks later, it would appear he is again ready to get back into the big league lineup.

Byron Buxton back in Minnesota Twins outfield?

Byron Buxton has played a pair of games with the St. Paul Saints at CHS Field this week to get him back in the flow of the game. Eligible to return from the injured list on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota was never going to have him make the trip to Canada. But there are now multiple reports out there saying his return is expected to happen on Saturday.

This season has been something of a slow going for Buxton out of the gate. He has struggled to catch up with fastballs, and his pitch recognition leaves plenty to be desired. He isn’t getting on-base with walks at all, and the production at the plate has plenty of room to grow. He has been among the best center fielders in the game though, and that has been a constant whenever he has been healthy and available.

Last season the Minnesota Twins attempted to mitigate injury risk for Byron Buxton by allowing him to operate solely as a designated hitter. Unfortunately that saps a significant majority of his value given his defensive prowess, and he never found the offensive consistency required to only hit.

It’s unfortunate that Buxton’s knee inflammation happens to be the same knee he underwent surgery for yet again this offseason. The most recent surgery seemed to address the issue better than has previously taken place, but it’s not going to be a forever fix. Buxton is now on the wrong side of 30 years old, and he has gone through plenty of injury issues.

Management will be the key going forward, and short stints on the injured list may be a way that Rocco Baldelli can keep his center fielder available virtually all season long. Buxton initially suggested this was him listening to his body, and being able to shut it down rather than play through something to damage further is a decision he would have previously overlooked.

Austin Martin likely the odd man out for Minnesota Twins

Austin Martin was the initial beneficiary of Buxton hitting the injured list, and would be the common sense option to go down, if Buxton is activated. Now more outfielder than infielder, the rookie has gotten some run in his debut season, more than originally expected for sure.

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And he’s mostly looked the part in center field, and while the offensive results haven’t been substantial, the defense should continue to improve as he acclimates to new positions.

Martin definitely got off to a faster start than the .644 OPS and 86 OPS+ he is currently sporting. He is a lesser version of Michael A. Taylor defensively, but he doesn’t strike out and draw some walks. With Willi Castro looking unable to play center field consistently, and Manuel Margot a complete trainwreck, the Twins could call on Martin again this season.

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The hope is that Buxton can be back in a regular capacity, and find the bat that he has been known to possess. He was hitless over six at bats during his rehab assignment, but being a key piece for a series with the Cleveland Guardians this weekend would be a much-needed boost for the roster. A sweep would have Minnesota taking over the top spot in the AL Central.

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