MINNEAPOLIS -- Target Field's center-field walls might be the worse for wear in 2019, as Byron Buxton showed up for TwinsFest on Friday motivated and focused -- and 21 pounds of muscle heavier."If I want to play the way that I want to play and run into walls, I've got
MINNEAPOLIS -- Target Field's center-field walls might be the worse for wear in 2019, as Byron Buxton showed up for TwinsFest on Friday motivated and focused -- and 21 pounds of muscle heavier.
"If I want to play the way that I want to play and run into walls, I've got to have a little bit more cushion," Buxton joked.
Buxton channeled his frustration from a difficult 2018 into a renewed focus during his offseason workouts. Earlier in his career, he didn't emphasize his conditioning to the point he did this offseason, as he figured that his younger body would naturally hold up better on its own. But this offseason, Buxton resolved to put on more weight and fill out his tall frame.
"People tell you to take that frustration as fuel, and that's something that I did, as well, to help me do what I want to do," Buxton said.
The 25-year-old was listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds last season, when he struggled with migraines, a lingering left big toe injury and a left wrist issue that limited him to 28 games in the Major Leagues that saw him hit .156/.183/.200. He was expecting to get the call back to the Majors following his recovery, but that call never came, and his free agency was pushed back by a year as a result.
In December, he bluntly aired his frustration to local media. But at a certain point during his offseason program, that frustration started to melt away as the progress set in. In fact, Buxton knows he'll lose around 7-10 pounds of his new bulk during Spring Training to hit his playing weight.
"Putting that past me, and once I got that past me, it was more of I could start my excitement, start seeing my happiness, start seeing my progress in what I was doing," he said.
The Twins know that unlocking Buxton and Miguel Sano -- both physically and mentally -- will be the key to any success they have in 2019. The club has closely overseen Sano's intense offseason conditioning to develop the 25-year-old third baseman's body, and Buxton has shown tangible physical results from his focused work.
New Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli took a day trip down to Georgia to see Buxton earlier this offseason, where they got a chance to meet and discuss goals for 2019. That also energized the center fielder.
"He didn't have to do that, so just to be able to take the time out of his day to come down there to meet was pretty huge for me," Buxton said. "That sets the tone off on a good foot. As soon as we left, I was ready to get back with him and get things back going. That's the type of vibe I got as soon as he left."
Four years into his Major League career, Buxton has only played in one full season. He's now got new bulk, a new focus on conditioning and largely new coaching and training leadership to guide him. He's excited to see where that leads him on the field.
"On a level of 1-10, I'm a 10," he said. "I'm beyond excited to get things back going and see where we are."
"We've always known he could grow and get stronger and become more physical," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "He's got such a great frame to build on. I'm excited to see what it brings collectively for him. I think for him the key is, and he knows this, it's about consistency with his swing. It's about things that he needs to do consistently in the box."
Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.