MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins on Sunday sent Byron Buxton to a specialist in California hoping to learn whether their Gold Glove center fielder will be able to make another plate appearance this season.
Buxton has been used as a pinch-runner and late defensive replacement since Sept. 1 but has essentially been put since Aug. 1, when he separated his left shoulder catching a fly ball at the wall in a 5-4 loss at Miami.
Asked whether Buxton will be able to bat again this season, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was candid.
“Well, I think it’s possible. I don’t really know,” he said before Sunday’s rubber match against Cleveland at Target Field. “I don’t really think anybody can say for sure, or with any confidence ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ ”
Buxton, 25, is having his best professional season, a 3.2 WAR player because of his defense and bat — something the Twins have been waiting for since selecting second overall in the 2012 draft. But three trips to the injury list have limited him to 87 games this season. Leading the American League Central by 6.5 games, the Twins would like him back for the playoffs — or at least make other plans.
“We’re trying to seek out as many opinions as we can, and not wait until the season ends to do that,” Baldelli said. “Doing it now and allowing us to react from there I think makes a lot of sense.”
Buxton is hitting a career-high .262 with 10 homers, 30 doubles and 46 RBIs. Batting ninth all season, he has scored 48 runs and stolen 14 bases. He was scheduled to see orthopedist Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.
“He says he’s pretty good,” Baldelli said, “but we’re going to say what the doctor also says and see what the true prognosis is. This is an update we’ve been waiting for in a lot of different ways, and we’ll know a lot more after he wraps up out there.”
Buxton is not the only Twins outfielder unavailable for full duty. Utility ace Marwin Gonzalez has been out since straining an oblique muscle on his right side Aug. 27 at Chicago, and Jake Cave missed his second straight game since straining his groin in Friday’s loss to the Indians.
So, on Sunday the Twins acquired outfielder Ryan LaMarre from Atlanta for cash.
“It’s basically a big-picture move,” Baldelli said. “It has nothing to do with any of our players in particular.”
Gonzalez said he took swings on Friday and Saturday but was resting on Sunday. He said he expects to play before the regular season ends but stressed that the team is being cautious with his first oblique injury.
“This is different. I’ve never had it before,” he said, “but I know if it gets worse I’m going to be done for the season until spring training. That’s why we’re taking it super careful.”
Cave had an MRI on Saturday and was diagnosed with a mild strain in his left groin.
“I fully expect him to be playing well before the season ends, and at a hundred percent,” Baldelli said.
LaMarre, 30, was packing up after the Gwinnett Stripers were eliminated from the Class AAA playoffs when manager Damon Berryhill told him he had been traded to Minnesota.
“I was probably one of three people left. The manager called me in and said, ‘You just got traded to the Twins,’ ” said LaMarre, who played 43 games for the Twins in 2018 and is married to a Minnesota native. “And I was like, ‘If you said anyone but the Twins, I might have believed you.’ And then he’s like, ‘No, I swear.’ ”
He took a 6:30 a.m. flight from Columbus, Ohio, and was in the Twins’ clubhouse when it opened to reporters at 10:15 a.m.
“It’s exciting,” LaMarre said. “You see what they’re doing on TV and all the home runs, and they’re playing such great baseball and for all the new faces, there’s still a lot of guys here that I got to play with and got to know. Everyone in the organization is just first-class. I’m just really excited to be back.”
Right-hander Kyle Gibson, unavailable since Aug. 30 because of ulcerative colitis, will start the third game of the Twins’ next series, Tuesday through Thursday at Target Field against the Washington Nationals. Jose Berrios will start the opener, and Martin Perez will start the second game.