Royce Lewis Injury Could Cost Byron Buxton a Spot on Twins’ Wildcard Roster

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins have just two regular season series (6 games) remaining on their 2023 schedule. The Wildcard round of the MLB playoffs begins next week, on October 3. The biggest concern, entering the final stretch, is the health of shortstop, Carlos Correa (Plantar Fasciitis) and 3rd baseman, Royce Lewis (Hamstring).

Carlos Correa tracking to play, Royce Lewis can maybe DH…

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According to reports, Correa — who is undoubtedly one of the best, most clutch MLB postseason performers of the last decade — is expected to be ready for game 1 of the Twins’ Wildcard series. In fact, the most clutch postseason performer in the last decade is expected to be back in the lineup for Minnesota’s final regular season series, later this week.

Unfortunately, the update on his left-side infield partner, Royce Lewis, isn’t as favorable. The oft-injured superstar talent will not play another regular season game this season and, according to Bobby Nightengale (Star Tribune), it may be too optimistic to assume he’ll be ready for 3rd base duties by October 3.

More realistically, Lewis limps into the lineup as a DH. Of course, Royce is a good 3rd baseman and having him in the field makes the Twins a better defensive team. But most importantly, the Minnesota Twins need his bat in the middle of their lineup, whether healthy enough to play defense or not.

Byron Buxton bumped out of the playoff lineup, dugout?

The only problem? Well, that depends on your view on what constitutes “a problem”. With just one week remaining in the regular season, Byron Buxton still doesn’t appear ready to play outfield. That means, should Lewis be limited to DH duties next week, Buck would likely be forced off the Wildcard roster.

Lewis’ status for the postseason remains uncertain because of his grade 1+ hamstring strain. He’s out for the rest of the regular season, so the Twins’ Oct. 2 workout at Target Field will be a big test for him. One scenario might be returning strictly as a designated hitter, though that would likely affect Byron Buxton’s status, too. It would be difficult to carry two DH-only players.

Bobby Nightengale – Star Tribune

We can have an argument over whether or not Buxton is the Twins’ best designated hitter option, even if leavin Lewis out of the conversation. But there is no conversation, if Lewis is cleared to hit and run bases but not play the field. I love Byron Buxton and appreciate his willingness to do anything and everything to get on the field.

But at the end of the day, this is Major League Baseball. At some point, the Twins must do everything within their power to win. If that means Byron Buxton is sitting in the Pohlad’s luxury box for the duration of the Wildcard round, then so be it.

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Nothing official yet on Byron Buxton or Royce Lewis

royce lewis byron buxton mlb playoff roster 2023 minnesota twins postseason designated hitter dh center field 3rd base
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing is set in stone yet. Minnesota Twins fans can hold their collective breaths hoping for a miracle on all fronts. Technically, the Twins first round lineup could still have both Lewis and Buxton playing defense. Nothing has been officially ruled out on either front, yet.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens with Buxton this week, between St. Paul and Minneapolis. Then, wait until October 2, when Royce Lewis is scheduled to work out for Twins trainers, coaches and executives.

Both the 24-year-old Lewis and 29-year-old Buxton have flashed the brightest strikes of greatness, during their professional careers. Unfortunately, those careers continue to be stunted by an inability to stay healthy.

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Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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