The first five weeks of the Twins season have been filled with bullpen blowups, extra-inning losses and disappointment. The big positive, the best reason for optimism, has been Byron Buxton. The center fielder was voted the American League’s Player of the Month in April and has started receiving “MVP!” chants from the Target Field crowd when he steps up the plate.
Now Buxton, like so many of his teammates already this season, has hit the injured list. He left Thursday’s 4-3, extra-inning loss to the Rangers in the ninth inning and on Friday an MRI exam revealed he has a grade two hip strain.
“We’re not talking about anything surgical. We’re not talking about anything that’s going to be months or anything like that,” manager Rocco Baldelli said before a game against the Tigers in Detroit, “but we’re talking about something that’s bare minimum going to take this 10-day IL stint. (It’s) probably more a discussion of weeks than days.”
It was a tough blow in a week — and really, season — full of them for the Twins. Buxton is now the third member of the lineup to hit the injured list this week, joining Luis Arraez (concussion) and Alex Kirilloff (wrist).
All are important pieces to the Twins, but Buxton has been the team’s best offensive and defensive player this season, and losing him for any period of time will be difficult for a team that has struggled all season long.
Buxton’s WAR, per FanGraphs, was tied for second in Major League Baseball with the Angels’ Mike Trout, behind only Mets starter Jacob deGrom. He was hitting .370 with a .408 on-base percentage and .772 slugging percentage, and had hit nine home runs in his 24 games.
Baldelli saw Buxton briefly on Friday ahead of his Zoom with the reporters and said he was “down in general.” This is Buxton’s 14 trip to the injured/disabled list since his first callup in 2015.
“Honestly, he deals with a lot of this stuff and with a lot of grace, but it takes a lot out of him and that’s understandable,” Baldelli said. “You deal with these things over and over again, and you handle things the right way all the time, and you know you don’t get the result you’re looking for, it’s frustrating.”