Twins center fielder Byron Buxton is still on the mend from the left shoulder surgery he underwent last September, but he’s making progress. Buxton faced live pitching Tuesday for the first time since August, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune was among those to report.
Twins hitting coach Rudy Hernandez took an optimistic tone after Buxton’s session at the plate, saying the 26-year-old “looked good” and is “going in the right way.”
While the Twins and Buxton are hopeful that he’ll be ready by Opening Day on March 26, neither side is setting a date for his season debut. Considering Buxton’s importance to the club, that’s understandable. After all, despite the time he missed, the former No. 2 overall pick did help the reigning American League Central champion Twins to one of the finest regular seasons in their history last year. The defensively brilliant Buxton slashed .262/.314/.513 (111 wRC+) with 10 home runs, 14 stolen bases and 2.7 fWAR over just 87 games and 295 plate appearances.
For most of the games Buxton sat out last season, the Twins turned to right fielder Max Kepler in center. That figures to be the plan again at the start of this season if Buxton isn’t healthy enough to take the field on Opening Day. The Twins also have LaMonte Wade Jr. and Jake Cave as center field-capable players, while utilityman Marwin Gonzalez could hold down right if Kepler has to fill in for Buxton.
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