11:59AM: Buxton may not even require an IL stint, as Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins aren’t planning another roster move.
11:10AM: Twins outfielder Byron Buxton left yesterday’s game in the first inning due to what the club termed as right knee soreness, and Buxton was set to undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury. According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link), there wasn’t any structural damage revealed, though Buxton might need around a week to recover.
This counts as good news, as given Buxton’s lengthy injury history, there was plenty of immediate concern when Buxton immediately left the field yesterday after sliding into second base on a leadoff double. Even if a trip to the 10-day injured list seems probable, Rosenthal’s timeline would indicate that Buxton might only miss the minimum 10 days, though it’s possible the Twins might hold him out an extra day or two as a precaution.
Of course, missing Buxton for even 10 days is a big blow to Minnesota’s lineup, especially since the outfield was already thinned out when Alex Kirilloff was placed on the 10-day IL yesterday due to wrist inflammation. Max Kepler is suddenly the last starting outfielder left standing, and Trevor Larnach and Kyle Garlick have already been called up from Triple-A. That trio projects as the starting outfield for now, with Alex Gordon and Gilberto Celestino also on the active roster. Jake Cave and Derek Fisher are among the more experienced outfielders still at Triple-A, though the Twins would need to add either player to the 40-man roster.
Buxton has played an even 500 games during parts of eight MLB seasons, as multiple injuries have hampered one of the sport’s most exciting all-around players. When he has been able to play, Buxton has shown glimpses of his five-tool potential, such as the 4.2 fWAR and .306/.358/.647 slash line he posted over 254 PA (61 games) in 2021. The seven-year, $100MM extension Buxton signed with the Twins in November reflected both his injury history and this high ceiling of potential, as millions more in incentive bonuses are available to Buxton if he can hit plate-appearance thresholds and secure at least a top-10 finish in MVP voting.