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Four-K day a learning experience for Buxton

MINNEAPOLIS -- After striking out four times against White Sox ace Chris Sale in the Twins' 6-1 win on Wednesday, rookie center fielder Byron Buxton was asked if he had ever seen a pitcher like Sale during his time in the Minors.

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Buxton, who served as the leadoff hitter for Minnesota for just the second time in his career, just laughed and gave an honest answer.

"You don't see that down there," Buxton said, shaking his head.

Sale entered the outing having struck out at least 12 batters in his last five starts, but he fell two strikeouts short of that total on Wednesday, as he gave up six runs (five earned) over 6 2/3 innings.

But four of those strikeouts came at the expense of Buxton, who went down swinging on fastballs in his first three at-bats before striking out looking on an 80-mph slider in his final at-bat. Buxton, though, took the strikeouts in stride, and vowed to learn from those at-bats, as he knows he'll see Sale plenty in the American League Central moving forward.

"I just need to be a little bit more aggressive to the fastball," Buxton said. "He was spotting it up pretty well early in the game, and the slider had a good bite to it. So I just need to stay on those pitches and drive them to right field."

Twins manager Paul Molitor viewed it as a learning experience for Buxton, saying he's confident the top prospect will be able to move on from his four-strikeout performance.

"He's seeing it firsthand," Molitor said. "I'm sure he'd seen Sale before on ESPN or on highlights or whatever. But when you get in the box, it's a different thing. It's one of those things where he saw a lot of fastballs but expanded up, especially when he got behind. But you learn every time you're up there."

Buxton said he's also been learning from right fielder Torii Hunter, who has served as his mentor and told him not to let his at-bats affect his defense, which has been impressive to this point and continued with an impressive running grab on Wednesday.

"He just tells me to relax," said Buxton, who's hitting .189. "He knows what I'm thinking before I even tell him. So he just wants me to go out there and relax and have fun and not put too much pressure on myself."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.
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