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Dane Mizutani: Twins have a plan for Byron Buxton. No matter how much Twitter complains

As long as Buxton is available in September or October, a scheduled day off in May or June shouldn’t be an issue.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton makes a diving catch for an out against the Detroit Tigers during the fourth inning Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Nick Wosika / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Byron Buxton made a spectacular catch on Tuesday night at Target Field. He tracked the ball perfectly off the bat of Jeimer Candelario, covered a gap akin to the Pacific Ocean, and stretched his body to put the finishing touches on a highlight-reel play only he could make.

Those hoping for an encore on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field never got it as Buxton was the designated hitter for the Twins in a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

This is all part of a plan the Twins have in place to manage the lingering soreness in Buxton’s right knee. He’s going to be in the lineup more often than not with a scheduled day off spliced in here and there to make sure he doesn’t overexert himself.

It’s absolutely the right way to handle the situation, despite what Twitter seems to think.

It’s as if the Twins were forcing the 28-year-old Buxton into early retirement based off some of the hot takes being thrown around on the bird app. You also would have no idea the Twins are currently first in the American League Central with the amount of negativity surrounding the franchise at the moment.

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The discourse started roughly a week and a half ago after Twins manager Rocco Baldelli opted against using Buxton as a pinch hitter late in a loss to the Cleveland Guardians. It was a scheduled day off for Buxton.

That made Twitter mad.

Asked about the decision a day later, Buxton noted how the organization is doing everything possible for him to play 100 games this season.

That made Twitter even more mad.

Too many people took Buxton’s comment at face value rather than taking into account the nuance involved. You really think if everything goes according to plan, and Buxton reaches the 100-game mark, the Twins are going to shut him down?

“No,” Baldelli said with a smirk. “I don’t think we’re going to be doing that.”

This isn’t the Twins hiding Buxton from the fan base. This isn’t the Twins babying their star player. This isn’t the Twins making decisions based on analytics.

This is the Twins protecting their best asset, an injury-prone player who signed a 7-year, $100 million contract this past offseason. It’s smart business.

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Let’s remember that Buxton has a long history of getting hurt. Part of that is bad luck. Part of it is because he plays the game so hard. Now in his eighth season with the Twins, he has played more than 100 games just once in his career — and that was back in 2017 when he played 142 games at age 23. He is fragile. That’s just a fact. The Twins can’t forget this, even when Twitter wants to.

Truthfully, there’s nobody that wants Buxton to play more than the Twins do. As he has proven throughout his career, when he’s healthy, he’s among the best players in baseball, his recent slump at the plate be damned.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics
Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton gestures after hitting an RBI single during the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics May 16, 2022, at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, California.
Darren Yamashita / USA Today Sports

Talking to some people around the organization, it sounds like the reason Buxton mentioned 100 games in the first place was because of a projection that took into account his scheduled days off. Essentially, if he sat out one game every series the rest of the season, he would end up right around 100 games.

“We’re actually hoping to ramp him up more as the season goes on,” Baldelli said. “The general hope is of playing many more games than that.”

Could that mean more games at DH are in Buxton’s future? Perhaps.

Though common sense would suggest that keeping him out of the field from time to time would be a good thing, Baldelli noted that Buxton actually feels the pain in his right knee while in the batter’s box as much as anywhere else.

“This is more of the slight progression to him getting out there a little bit more each week,” Baldelli said. “The thought is to help him in some way and kind of limit the steps or pounding or whatever we want to call it. Just the amount of time he’s on his feet and out there running around. How much is it really going to help him on DH days? I’m not sure.”

In other words, the Twins are still going to give Buxton his scheduled days off in the coming days, weeks and months.

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No matter how much Twitter complains.

As long as Buxton is available in September or October, a scheduled day off in May or June shouldn’t be an issue.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: BASEBALLMINNESOTA TWINS
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