Rocco Claims Buxton is Feeling Good, Evidence Says Different

Photo: @Twinspics - Twitter

Byron Buxton is one of the most valuable players in Major League Baseball, even when he’s battling injuries and being written into the Minnesota Twins lineup, part time, as a designated hitter. Still, it’s concerning how often Buxton is spending defensive half-innings in the dugout, instead of out roaming center field.

Buxton DH’d both of the first two games in Seattle. He was back in center field on Wednesday, a getaway victory to take the series. More on that momentarily. But the Twins’ former #2 overall pick has been the team’s DH in three of the last four games. Five of the last eight. Byron Buxton, the best center fielder in baseball, has been just as much of a DH recently, as he has been an outfielder.

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Not so fast…

But if you ask Rocco Baldelli, he claims Buxton is actually feeling and looking good recently.

“It’s actually a sign that he’s feeling good, because today was potentially going to be a day where he was not going to play. He was going to maybe get today off and be ready for the lefty [Marco Gonzalez] tomorrow,” Baldelli said. “But he came out of [Monday’s] game feeling alright, and good enough to get back out there.

“There’s even a chance — I don’t know if this is going to be the case, but there’s even a chance that he DHs again [Wednesday]. Just getting him out there for all three games and having him in the lineup would be a nice thing.” – Rocco Baldelli (via Star Tribune)

Eye Test Disagrees with Rocco

Maybe his reasoning is good natured. But I’m not really sure why it’s necessary, in the game of baseball, to be this discrete about an injury. That’s the path the Minnesota Twins have taken, however, when asked to explain Byron Buxton’s injury issues to fans and media.

Rocco’s quote above is only the latest version of misinformation. Even if you want to take Baldelli’s words of comfort over Buxton’s new “position flexibility”, then fine. But will you doubt your own eye test? Because Buck appears to be in pain anytime he’s forced to exert himself, physically.

On Wednesday, back in center field, Buxton had to dive for a soft line drive into right-center field. He made the catch and it was an incredible play. But he got up rather slowly afterward.

More Evidence

Then in the 5th inning, Buxton hit a ground ball to the 3rd baseman, who bobbled it, before throwing him out at first base. Normally, that wouldn’t be a shocking sentence to read. But when healthy, infielders struggle to throw Byron Buxton out, even if they do everything right.

After getting thrown out, it took Buxton another 30 yards to decelerate enough to where he could turn around and jog back to the Minnesota Twins bench.

Admirably frustrating

I appreciate Byron Buxton playing through injuries. There’s clearly something going on. Likely, something with his knee. But it’s the Twins’ refusal to be forthright with fans and media about what is going on that bugs me. Don’t tell us Buxton is looking better when it’s obvious he is not.

Then use as little context as possible to explain yourself. It’s frustrating for fans who are well aware of just how important Buxton is to the Twins remaining on top of the AL Central. Do whatever needs to be done to keep Buxton’s bat in the lineup, even if it means making him the full-time designated hitter. Just don’t tell us you’re doing it because his health is improving.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan