BOSTON – Byron Paxton appeared in his 500th game with the Twins on Friday. Perhaps out of habit, the twins fear that it will take some time before they play their 501st role.
Buxton suffered a calf injury while slipping into second base during the first half of the Twins’ 8-4 win over the Red Sox, slapped the ground in frustration and promptly walked off the field and entered the club. The twins announced that Buxton was suffering from pain in his right knee, but that he was wandering the club during the match, a sign of hope. He left Fenway Park to undergo an MRI test at a nearby hospital and did not return.
“He’s obviously been feeling some real discomfort. He plays a lot. He’s a tough guy and he always wants to be on the court,” said Rocco Baldeli, director of the Twins, who has not heard of the MRI results or any other expectations. “In that case, he knew it wouldn’t be something he would play. [through] today.”
The injury occurred after Buxton hit a high, shallow center-left pop-up, with winds bluffing short player Xander Bogarts and left-footed player Alex Verdugo. The ball fell between the field players, and Buxton, nearly first at the time, quickly ran up to second base before a throw from Ferdugo.
But Buxton awkwardly slipped, feet first, into the bag, and his leg seemed to get stuck under him as he slipped. The 28-year-old quarterback quickly rose to his feet and walked to the twins’ lair, holding his helmet in front of his face to hide his emotions as Baldele, third base coach Tommy Watkins and athletic coach Michael Salazar ran toward him.
“He looked upset,” Baldeli said. “I was actually looking at the ball. From the corner of my eye I could see him slipping or playing weird looking at second base, but as soon as he hit the ground and got up, I knew something was going on.”
Buxton, who has three doubles and three runs in the Twins’ first seven games, was removed from the game, with Nick Gordon taking his place as a discus runner. The incident is reminiscent of the hamstring injury Josh Donaldson sustained in the first half of the 2021 season opener in Milwaukee.
“I’m really sad because I don’t want to see my son injured,” said teammate Miguel Sano, who came through the minor leagues with Buxton. “Pak is one of the best players we have on the team. When this guy is on the field, everything is different for us.”
Still, staying in the field has been a long-standing problem.
The Platinum Glove-winning player, who in December signed a seven-year $100 million contract, has been named to the hit list 12 times by twins in his eight-year career, plus four more times while in the minor leagues, with Conditions ranging from migraine to labral tear.
Buxton missed last season after five weeks of straining his right thigh in early May, and more than two months after he fractured his left hand. He played a total of only 61 out of 162 matches. Since staying healthy enough to appear in 140 games in 2017, Buxton has appeared in just 222 of a potential 553 appearances.
However, Baldeley said it was too early to tell if Buxton would need another period on the injured list.
“We’re not going there yet,” Baldeley said, especially because by adding Kyle Garlick on Friday morning, the twins have five more players, after Gordon the companion man. “We’ll wait and see what we find out, take a deep breath, see where we are and then make a call.”
until that time? The twins try not to let Buxton’s injury dump them just one week into the season.
“I didn’t hear anything, but the next guy,” said twins shooter Joe Ryan. “You have to keep winning and keep going. Even he said the same thing.”