Twins Fighting Spring Training Injury Bug; Byron Buxton Update Seems Positive

byron buxton minnesota twins
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Twins (@Twins - X)

The Minnesota Twins haven’t won a lot of games down in Fort Myers, this spring. Luckily, exhibition wins and losses don’t matter. What matters is keeping your best players healthy. Up until the last week or so, that had been a mostly successful endeavor for the Twins.

That has changed dramatically, in recent days, however. In the last 48 hours, we’ve seen two of the bullpen’s best and most reliable arms placed on the injured list. Both Jhoan Duran (15-day designation – right oblique strain) or Caleb Thielbar (left hamstring soreness) will start the Twins’ regular season on IR.

Minnesota Twins pitchers dealing with injury bug

Meanwhile, newly acquired Anthony DeSclafani (Polanco trade) is likely done for the season, according to president of baseball operations, Derek Falvey (via Bobby Nightengale – Star Tribune). Unless the front office goes out and acquires another starter between now and Opening Day, it’ll be Louie Varland who earns that 5th starting spot, in place of DeSclafani. Varland has been absolutely dominant this spring.

Anthony DeSclafani was shut down because of elbow soreness after pitching in a minor league game Saturday and he will visit Dr. Keith Meister to evaluate his next steps, which could include elbow surgery, Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said Monday.

Bobby Nightengale – Star Tribune

Byron Buxton scratched with lower back tightness

byron buxton Minnesota Twins
Photo: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

But it isn’t just the pitching staff dealing with injuries at Minnesota Twins spring training, which is set to wrap up this weekend. Byron Buxton was scratched from Monday’s lineup with lower back tightness. It may not be his knee, but any injury associated with Buxton is going to raise eyebrows, especially something as sensitive as lower back pain.

Related: Confirmed: Twins’ Top Prospect Walker Jenkins is Gonna be a Superstar

Fortunately, manager Rocco Baldelli did have a more positive update on the Byron front Monday afternoon. While he may have been scratched from the lineup, it appears the move was more cautionary than worrisome, because Buck could be seen in the clubhouse during the game taking swings in the batting cages.

[Byron] hit during the game. He wanted to go in the cage during the game and take some swings. If he was in pain, believe me, he’s not going in there and doing that. That was a somewhat positive thing.”

Rocco Baldelli on Byron Buxton’s back pain (via the Star Tribune)

As Rocco notes, it’s highly unlikely Buxton could take swings in the batting cages if his back was that debilitating. As someone who has struggled with lower back pain throughout his life (more core workouts would help), I can attest to how true that is. When lower back pain gets severe, moving any muscle in your body can be a problem.

Related: Unhittable Louie Varland May Force His Way into Twins’ Rotation

Buxton has had an incredible Spring Training, in the games he has played (9 games | 24 at-bats), batting .333 with a 1.074 OPS, 1 HR, (2) 3B, 4 RBI and just 3 Ks. He’s even made a diving catch in center field, which came a few days ago.

Of course, it doesn’t take much for mild lower back pain to turn into something much more severe, so this is obviously a situation we will be monitoring during the Twins’ final Spring Training off-day on Tuesday, before they get back on the exhibition field Wednesday.

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