The Minnesota Twins were expecting to get their center fielder back in the lineup, but a setback with his injured shoulder has put those plans on hold.
The Minnesota Twins had to be feeling good heading into their three-game series with the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night. After taking the final two games from the Detroit Tigers to win a series last weekend, the Twins were inching back toward full strength and were hoping to get the services of Byron Buxton back in center field.
While Buxton looked great in a rehab stint in Low-A Cedar Rapids, those plans came to a halt on Tuesday morning when he felt pain in his injured left shoulder. According to Dan Hayes of The Athletic, that pain was enough to send Buxton for an MRI and although it came back clean, the date of his exact return is now in doubt.
Buxton’s latest chapter on the injured list began back on Aug. 3, when he suffered a left shoulder subluxation while running into a wall at Marlins Park. His third stint on the shelf this season turned out to be his longest of the season and the Twins have suffered as they look to put ground between themselves and the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central.
With Buxton out of the lineup, the Twins have had to adapt on the fly using Max Kepler in center field and Jake Cave and Marwin Gonzalez in right field. Although Cave has come on strong in the month of August, hitting .442 with three home runs, it’s still not the defensive prowess that Buxton has shown in center field with a UZR of 8.8, the second-highest rating of his career.
Alas, the argument of Buxton’s latest setback could go both ways. The Twins need Buxton down the stretch and as the Indians linger around in the standings (and the longer Buxton’s shoulder takes to heal), the more concerning his absence is.
On the other hand, the Twins are in the middle of a stretch where they’ll see the White Sox and Detroit Tigers before a three-game series with a reeling Boston Red Sox squad. If it takes Buxton another week or so to be ready for a three-game series with the Indians at Target Field beginning Sept. 6, then it may be worth the cautious approach.
For now, the screams of Buxton’s style of play and his injury-prone track record will get louder with hopes that he’ll be healthy for the final stretch run.