Buxton on OD: 'Nothing's going to stop me'

July 16th, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- In his mind, isn't even considering the possibility that he could miss Opening Day due to his left mid-foot sprain.

"Opening Day, I will be there," Buxton said. "Nothing’s going to stop me."

"I feel too good to let this beat me," he added.

Buxton was in the clubhouse Wednesday, walking around without a boot for the second straight day following an injury that resulted in him being carted off the field. Coupled with Miguel Sanó's similar confidence that he could also be ready for Opening Day, there was plenty of optimism around Target Field, though Twins manager Rocco Baldelli showed more restraint and still wouldn't commit to that timeline.

"I love hearing that," Baldelli said. "That's exactly what you want to hear from your guys. [Buxton and Sanó] are completely intent on being out there on Opening Day. And if they're ready to go physically, I’m also very excited about seeing them out there on Opening Day. That’s exactly what you like to hear out of their mouths."

Buxton said his left foot was still sore as he did some walking in a pool. At the time of the injury, he said he felt a slight pop and an immediate sharp pain in the foot, and he remained worried until his imaging results from Monday night showed no signs of structural damage.

Now that Buxton knows that his return to the field is more a matter of pain management than a more involved recovery, he can focus on regaining his mental composure ahead of the season as he works back up to running at full speed.

"Yeah, that day put a dagger in things," Buxton said. "Mentally, it kind of sets everything off and you kind of want to get away from this, but like I said, once the results came in, it kind of put your mind at ease and you just kind of figure out ways to tolerate it and get back out on the field."

Buxton echoed Baldelli's statement that he would continue to adjust his recovery based on how much pain he feels on any given day, but also reiterated his confidence that he expects to be on the field when the Twins open the season at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 24. At the same time, he also acknowledged the frustration of suffering another injury just when he had fully recovered from his left shoulder surgery.

"It makes you more -- not necessarily mad -- but more aggravated," Buxton said. "Like, ‘Why me?’ But at the end of the day, there’s no excuses. So it is what it is. Like I said, I’m blessed that it wasn’t worse than what it was. So I’ve just got to keep going, so that’s what I’m going to do."

Prospects shine in realistic intrasquad game
Nelson Cruz and Max Kepler went deep under the bright lights of Target Field on Wednesday night, when the Twins finally cranked up the simulated crowd noise, put uniforms on all of their players and more faithfully reproduced an actual baseball game.

But the bigger stage also afforded several of the organization's top prospects the opportunity to square off against Major League talent in their debut performances at Target Field -- and they didn't disappoint.

Alex Kirilloff (Twins' No. 2 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), Trevor Larnach (No. 3) and Ryan Jeffers (No. 6) each recorded at least one hit, headlined by Jeffers' game-tying solo shot off 13-year MLB veteran Tyler Clippard in the top of the seventh inning. Larnach clubbed a pair of sharp singles, while Kirilloff and Travis Blankenhorn (No. 18) each knocked a hit and scored a run. Brent Rooker (No. 12) made a diving play to his right at first base.

"Our guys can really play," Baldelli said. "We have future Major League talent. Guys that truly have the ability to be above-average, impactful players and help us hopefully win a lot of games. Those are the kinds of guys that we have. So to see them do things out in the field, it’s not surprising, it’s more fun, and you get to really enjoy watching good young players."

Kepler followed his leadoff homer with an RBI double in the sixth inning, Cruz went 2-for-3 with a homer, single and a walk, and Marwin González singled and walked twice. Kenta Maeda (five innings, one run) and Devin Smeltzer (four innings, two runs) both had strong outings.

"All of the sounds and everything that went along with the presentation tonight is good," Baldelli said. "It's definitely going to increase and help the quality, probably, of the play itself, when you actually get that engagement and that feel of being out there in a Major League ballgame."

Twins announce fan engagement opportunities
Though there are no plans for fans to be present for Twins baseball at Target Field, the Twins still have several fan engagement ideas in mind for the upcoming 2020 regular season.

Fans will be able to submit a photo of themselves for inclusion in the "Target Field Fan Photo Mosaic," which will be a 53-foot-high mosaic built into section 331 of the home run porch in the left-field upper deck. Submissions will be accepted at twinsmosaic.com/registration.

Season-ticket holders will have the opportunity to record greetings for inclusion on FOX Sports North and the Treasure Island Baseball Network to add personality and flair to each game's broadcasts.

Finally, the MLB Ballpark App will include five opportunities for engagement: Twingo, Pick 3, Twins Trivia, the Essential Partners Passport and the newly included "Ask T.C.," where fans can ask team mascot T.C. Bear questions about the score, stats, standings and schedule in real time.

Twins tidbits
• The Twins have an off-day scheduled for Thursday, with no activity expected at the main training camp site at Target Field. They will be back in intrasquad action with a 1:10 p.m. CT first pitch on Friday.

• Since the Twins only have one preseason exhibition game scheduled before the regular season -- next Wednesday at Wrigley Field, against the Cubs -- they will continue to work out at Target Field until next Tuesday. Following a morning workout that day, they will fly to Chicago and spend the night before the exhibition on the road. A light workout at Guaranteed Rate Field will follow on Thursday before their Opening Day matchup against the White Sox on Friday.