Twins consider whether to play or rest Byron Buxton

August 30, 2018

CLEVELAND After fighting off migraines, breaking a toe and injuring his wrist, would Byron Buxton be better off starting his offseason next week and putting 2018 behind him? Thats a calculation the Twins are considering, with roster expansion looming this weekend.

Buxton, who batted .156 in 28 injury-plagued games with the Twins but is 18-for-48 (.375) with nine extra-base hits since being activated by Class AAA Rochester in mid-August, is one of three position players in Rochester who is on the Twins 40-man roster fellow outfielders Zack Granite and Johnny Field are the others a fact that normally might make him an obvious choice for promotion in September. But Derek Falvey, the Twins chief baseball officer, said Wednesday that no decision has yet been made about the Gold Glove center fielder.

Theres been a combination of things that have been challenging, Falvey said. Our focus should exclusively be on what we think is the best for Byron long-term, and thats where its going to be.

Spending September in the majors would also give Buxton more than three years of major-league service time, which would keep him on track, under current rules, to be a free agent after the 2021 season, rather than 2022. But Falvey insisted payroll considerations are playing no part in the Twins deliberations.

Thats not something were factoring in. We want to talk through all the reasons, again, just rooted back in what we think is the best for Byron long-term, Falvey said. Were going to take that approach with this decision. No different.

Keeping rookies Jake Cave and Tyler Austin in the lineup as much as possible, in order to fully evaluate them, is a consideration as well.

Manager Paul Molitor said the Twins plan to call up a pitcher or two on Saturday, and complete their roster expansion Tuesday, after the International League season ends Monday. The Twins are leaning toward using a six-man rotation in September, and he would like to add a couple more arms to the bullpen.

Molitor has kept in touch with Buxton, both by phone and text message, and said hes enjoying Buxtons late-season surge. Hes been on a good run. Multi-hit games, and the extra-base hits, the manager said. Hes still pulling the ball probably at a very high rate. Seems we saw that a lot when he was up here, too. But hes doing OK. Its fun to watch him get hits.

Trades possible

Even after making six trades in a 10-day span last month, Falvey remains attentive to the possibility of more as Fridays postseason-roster deadline approaches.

Were going to listen if teams call, Falvey said. Right now, its more likely than not that youll have a conversation about somebody. Thats been my history on every Aug. 31, honestly.

Gardenhire the other one to join team

In addition to players, major league teams are allowed to add an additional coach during September, and Falvey said the Twins intend to rotate that responsibility among several coaches in their system. The order hasnt been finalized, but Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire revealed one to Detroit reporters: Class A Cedar Rapids manager Toby Gardenhire will be on Molitors staff when the Twins visit Detroit on Sept. 17-19, assuming the Kernels Midwest League playoff run is over by then.

Thats the best and worst part, because now theres going to be a lot of crap flying, the elder Gardenhire said, according to the Detroit News. His wife, Carol, might be rooting for them, and thats really going to bother me. This is really cool. Hes worked a long time for this.

One more day off

A pregame thunderstorm kept Jorge Polanco from testing his sore left hamstring on the field, so Molitor chose to play it safe and give the shortstop another day off. [Tuesday] he still had a little more specific tightness in that left hamstring, Molitor said of the minor injury, which forced Polanco out of Sundays game with the As. It seems to me after a couple of days he still has a little soreness in that area, so there was probably a little something that happened in there.

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