Twins Nonchalant on Byron Buxton’s Knee Soreness

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels
Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

Byron Buxton was in the St. Paul Saints’ lineup on Friday night, as part of a rehab assignment aimed at getting him ready to play for the Minnesota Twins, in an AL Wildcard series later this month. But those plans seemed to go awry, when Buxton was removed from the Saints lineup after two plate appearances, both of which ended in strikeouts.

Twins brush off Byron Buxton’s knee soreness

He was in St. Paul’s lineup as the designated hitter, before being pulled, but did open his rehab stint two nights earlier (Wednesday) as the Saints’ center fielder. It was the first time he had played defense in a real baseball game since August, 2022. Unfortunately, less than 48 hours later, his right knee wasn’t recovered enough to DH.

Concerning, right? Apparently not. Rocco Baldelli talked to reporters, prior to the Twins’ 9-7 win over the Texas Rangers Saturday night, and seemed unconcerned regarding both Byron’s sore right knee and his removal from the Triple-A lineup a night earlier.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS — The patella tendinitis that flared up in Byron Buxton’s right knee Friday is not new, and it wasn’t particularly unexpected, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said a day later. It’s a normal reaction, in a surgically repaired joint, to the increased stress of ramping up to game-level intensity after being sidelined a month by a hamstring injury, Baldelli emphasized.

“He didn’t hurt himself. It’s just a matter of, the more he’s on his feet, the more his knee is feeling it right now,” Baldelli said. “He’s had this before. We’ll continue to treat it day-to-day, like we have all along. We still expect him back this year.”

Phil Miller – Star Tribune

Are Twins being too nonchalant?

I guess, if Rocco isn’t concerned, we shouldn’t be either, right? I mean, I have a bad knee that gets sore when I increase my level of physical activity — from ‘pretty much none’ (maybe some yard work every once in awhile) up to ‘minimal running, jumping’ (a softball game or heavier yard work).

The difference, you ask? Byron Buxton is a professional athlete, who has an entire team focused daily on getting his body, and any ailments, as right as humanly possible. I sit inside on my computer all day and avoid the doctor’s office at all costs.

Buck has immediate access to scans, treatments and injections that would cost most of us $100’s of thousands in insurance claims.. Massage therapists, physical therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, strength coaches, doctors, a full training staff, training programs, hot-tubs, cold-tubs, saunas, etc etc etc.

With all the resources available to Buxton and the Twins, there isn’t a known treatment option or medical opinion they don’t have access to. Yet, this man’s knee still cannot handle one 7-inning appearance in center field without needing 3-4 days off to recover?

We’re talking about baseball, here. Not football or hockey, where his knee could take direct contact from other participants. It’s not basketball, where he would be cutting, jumping, sprinting and squatting for 80% of play. Don’t tell these facts to Rocco, though…

Baldelli wouldn’t predict when Buxton, who received treatment on his knee Saturday, might return to action. “He’s been doing well, working hard to get back,” Baldelli said. “It’s just hard to match the intensity of game speed.”

Phil Miller – Star Tribune

Seriously, how many times did Buck have to move around on Wednesday night and how rigorous were his movements, while playing center field for the Saints? He probably swung a bat 8-20 times, threw a ball around, ran some bases, jogged out to and in from center field 7-8 times and he maybe sprinted after a fly ball or two? Yes Rocco, baseball “game speed” is so intense…

Byron Buxton Minnesota Twins Knee Soreness
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Skeptical optimist or Optimistic skeptic?

Rocco & Co can play it cool, if that makes them feel better about the situation. But clearly, Byron Buxton’s knee is nowhere near right. If he can’t play center field, come playoff time, there’s no way they can write Buxton into the postseason lineup. He’s been absolutely atrocious all season as a DH.

Are they really going to have him come off the bench, during the playoffs? That would be a tough look, for a player who has 5 years, $75million left on his contract. So, I hope Baldelli is right not to be worried. That Buxton does return before the playoffs start and that he can be written into game-1 of the AL Wildcard round in center field.

But that doesn’t seem very likely, at this point. And it’s clear Byron Buxton and the Twins need to take a more aggressive approach to fixing his knee next offseason.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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