The Twins delivered some unfortunate injury news to reporters today, revealing that center fielder Byron Buxton is headed back to the disabled list due to his fractured big toe and that Ervin Santana’s rehab assignment has been halted due to ongoing discomfort in his surgically repaired finger (Twitter links via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com and Dan Hayes of The Athletic). Buxton will have his toe re-examined, while Santana will be examined by a specialist.
It’s been a dismal season for Buxton, who landed on the DL in mid-April for what the club hoped would be a minimal stay due to ongoing migraine issues. Instead, Buxton fouled a ball into his foot on his rehab assignment and sustained a fractured toe which has plagued him since.
Though a six-week timetable for the foot to heal completely was provided, the Twins made the surprising decision to activate Buxton from that DL trip without sending him on a minor league rehab assignment. 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets that today’s decision to place Buxton back on the DL stems from the fact that he’s simply been in too much pain to use his lower half at the plate.
Overall, Buxton has turned in a brutal .159/.187/.205 slash this season, and he’s gone just 6-for-47 since coming off the disabled list and trying to play through the fractured toe. That, obviously, is a far cry from what looked to be a breakout year for Buxton in 2017, when he batted .253/.314/.413 with 16 homers and 29 steals while winning Gold Glove and Platinum Glove honors for his work in the outfield.
[Related: Updated Minnesota Twins depth chart]
With Buxton on the shelf, the Twins will have a number of options to handle center field duties. Ryan LaMarre is currently on the big league roster and can see some time at the position, though both of the Twins’ primary corner outfielders, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler, are also capable of playing center field.
The news on Santana is equally if not more disheartening for a Twins club that had hoped to get its primary rotation anchor back in the near future. The 35-year-old Santana underwent surgery on his middle finger in February and had been hopeful of returning at some point in May or in early June, but it seems he’ll now need a new wave of testing and could see his season debut delayed quite a bit further.
Since signing with the Twins on a four-year, $55MM deal, Santana has turned in 500 2/3 innings of 3.47 ERA ball. He was especially effective in 2016-17, logging a 3.32 ERA with 7.2 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 (though fielding-independent metrics indicated that he had a fair bit of good fortune on his side over that span). With Santana now sidelined indefinitely, the Twins will continue to lean on Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Lance Lynn and impressive rookie Fernando Romero in the rotation for the time being.