The Twins’ expectation is that center fielder Byron Buxton would’ve been in center field on Opening Day had the season commenced on time, writes Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The 26-year-old underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder last September, and manager Rocco Baldelli said in a weekend conference call that Buxton’s rehab from the procedure “could not have gone smoother.” Buxton was a bit limited early in camp during the first spring training, but he’ll be on a normal schedule if a second (likely abbreviated) training camp is able to come together. Injuries have plagued much of Buxton’s career — crashing into the center field fence on the regular and frequently laying out for diving attempts take their toll on a body — but he turned in a .262/.314/.513 slash line (114 OPS+, 111 wRC+) in 295 plate appearances when healthy last season. Despite playing in only 87 games, he tied for fifth among MLB outfielders in Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric.
More out of the division…
- Michael Fulmer’s rehab from Tommy John surgery is on track, and the Tigers right-hander would likely be ready for a minor league rehab stint in early July if play has resumed by that point, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. Fulmer’s 2018 season was cut short due to knee surgery, and he sustained the UCL tear that led to his Tommy John surgery last spring. A late start to the year and an pushed-back end date would give Fulmer some additional innings, though he’s quick to say that he “[doesn’t] think there are any positives to take out of” the COVID-19 pandemic, even while acknowledging that it could allow him to get in more work in 2020. Fulmer, the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year (159 innings, 3.06 ERA, 5.4 rWAR), hasn’t pitched since September 2018 and will be arbitration-eligible for the third time next winter. He’s a Super Two player and remains under club control through the 2022 season.
- Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star takes an interesting look at the manner in which the Royals’ front office is operating amid the suspended state of play. And while the makeshift manner in which the club’s player development staff now has to interact with players is obviously a sub-optimal setup, assistant general manager J.J. Picollo believes that the club “will end up with better processes for our offseason communication” as a result of needing to be more nimble with their interactions. Regular Zoom meetings; webinars on nutrition, pitch grips and new technologies to utilize; and more concrete one-on-one communication schedules have been put into place via a variety of platforms.