Buxton stays hot with 2nd spring HR, 5 RBIs

Twins center fielder is 5-for-5 with 10 RBIs in Grapefruit League play

February 25th, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Yes, it's only Spring Training, but Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is still excited to see Byron Buxton's energy in the dugout throughout his hot start at the plate.

After adding 21 pounds this offseason, the center fielder is now 5-for-5 with two homers and 10 RBIs this spring after adding three hits -- a two-run double, an RBI single and a two-run homer -- in the Twins' 7-1 victory over the Orioles on Monday.

"I don't care if these are Spring Training games or what kind of games they are," Baldelli said. "He looks like he's having fun from the time he comes in the dugout pregame until we slap him five and he goes back in. He's obviously swung the bat really well, and I think it's a nice way to start the spring for him. He looks great."

Buxton also had five RBIs in his spring debut on Saturday night against the Rays, when he hit a two-run single before launching a three-run homer to the top of the hill beyond the left-field wall at Hammond Stadium.

"That's what we want. That's what we want," pitcher Jose Berrios said. "We want him in that situation, in that position, when he's back to the Byron Buxton that we know, [how] he played from 2012 to being in the Majors. So I feel so happy and proud for him to watch so far what he's doing this Spring Training."

Twins could be done with major acquisitions

After the Twins officially announced the signing of versatile free agent Marwin Gonzalez to a two-year, $21 million deal on Monday, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey indicated that the Twins could be done adding significant pieces to the roster.

"We can't not take calls -- that's our responsibility as a professional," Falvey said. "But for us right now, we feel we have the team we're going to be selecting [our 25-man roster] from, right in this room right now."

The Twins had a busy offseason on the position-player side, adding Jonathan Schoop, C.J. Cron, Nelson Cruz and Gonzalez on short-term deals to address more immediate needs. They have been less active in the pitching market, adding only Martin Perez and Blake Parker on Major League contracts.

Though the Twins don't have an established closer, Falvey said he is happy with the improvements among the club's pitching staff, including several younger pitchers who could assume bullpen roles. Baldelli has already announced that the team plans to use hard-throwing right-hander Fernando Romero out of the bullpen this season.

"Seeing some of our other younger guys potentially pitching out of the bullpen, seeing how that looks, if they were all positive for us," Falvey said. "I'm optimistic about the adjustments guys have made, so I feel good about it."

Falvey made a similar statement last spring after Minnesota introduced newly acquired designated hitter Logan Morrison on Feb. 28, but the Twins made an additional acquisition two weeks later, signing starting pitcher Lance Lynn to a one-year contract.

Twins tidbits

Jason Castro started behind the plate, marking his first appearance in a game since May 4, 2018. He missed most of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Though Castro feels good while both catching and swinging the bat, the Twins will continue to be cautious ramping him up this spring and could give him more exposure at designated hitter.

"He says he feels great and he's ready to go, and I'm going to basically probably have to calm him down at times because he feels ready," Baldelli said. "But he's a professional and a veteran guy who knows his body very well."

• Outfielder Zack Granite was designated for assignment on Monday to make room on the 40-man roster for Gonzalez.

Granite, 26, hit .237/.321/.290 in 40 games for the Twins in 2017 after posting a .338/.392/.475 line in Triple-A, but he started the '18 season in the Minor Leagues and was shut down in July with a right shoulder contusion after hitting .211 with no homers in 68 games.

• Berrios pitched two innings in his first start of the spring and allowed a home run to Baltimore outfielder Eric Young Jr. Berrios felt good about the control of his pitches, though he said he wants to continue to work on the consistency of his changeup.

Up next

The Twins haven't officially announced a starting pitcher for Tuesday's 12:05 p.m. CT matchup against the Pirates at Hammond Stadium, but right-hander Tyler Duffey is expected to make his second appearance of the spring opposite Pirates right-hander Mitch Keller. Trevor Hildenberger, Matt Magill, Jake Reed, Justin Nicolino and Tim Collins are also listed as available to pitch for Minnesota.