DETROIT -- Kyle Gibson has lost around 10 pounds over the last month and a half, and his ability to sleep has been disrupted to the point where he felt that waking up only twice in the middle of the night on Saturday was one of the better days he'd had in a long time.
Gibson said that he immediately felt that he didn't have any strength in his legs when he started against the Tigers on Friday. After a consultation with his gastrointestinal specialist in Cleveland, the right-hander and the Twins' coaching staff agreed that a stint on the injured list for ulcerative colitis would be the best course of action to get Gibson feeling like himself again.
"Once we heard back from the doctor in Cleveland and his prognosis and his plan going forward, it was clear that missing a start was the best plan for me and trying to actually get some rest and get some energy back in me," Gibson said. "I'm a guy who can gain weight pretty easily once it gets this low."
The lack of sleep, the stress of the season and all of the other factors of a baseball schedule combined to hit Gibson particularly hard over his last three starts. That has been reflected on the stat sheet, as the 31-year-old had posted a 6.88 ERA with 26 hits allowed in those three outings.
Gibson prefers to play at 212 pounds, but he said that he had been fluctuating from 195-200 pounds over the last month and a half.
"He's battled through a lot this year," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "It, at times, has been extremely challenging. It hasn't been something that's been widely discussed. He hasn't wanted it to be any sort of excuse."
Gibson dealt with gastrointestinal issues during Spring Training, too, due to the E. coli that he contracted in the Caribbean during a volunteering trip. Because of that, he got off to a late start in the spring and had his first start of the regular season pushed back. Gibson feels that there could be a connection between that bout and the inflammation that he has been battling all season.
He has been consulting with the specialist in Cleveland throughout the year, and he started a course of anti-inflammatory treatments around the All-Star break. Gibson hopes to keep the inflammation under control until he can get examined again after the season to determine whether a more serious case of ulcerative colitis is present.
"The whole time, my arm felt good. And even up to that point, my body felt good enough to do what I thought I needed to do," Gibson said. "And then, I think just over the last three weeks, even at the beginning of August, to be honest with myself, it really started taking a toll on me. The lack of sleep, the stress of just the season, everything like that."
Ideally, Gibson wanted to stay in line to make his next start. But the goal for now is to try to get several good nights of sleep in a row, and hopefully be ready to pitch again in a week.
"The goal is to get some sleep, and I told Rocco I would be honest with him on how I'm sleeping and how I'm feeling," Gibson said. "Because I still feel I can contribute a lot here down the stretch. But I'm not going to be able to do that if I'm not sleeping and I'm only getting consistently five to six hours of sleep. That's kind of where we are at."
Buxton plays first game since IL
In an unexpected treat for Twins fans to cap the Twins' 8-3 win over the Tigers on Sunday, Byron Buxton made his first appearance in center field since Aug. 1 when he entered the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. He did not factor into any plays, as rookie Brusdar Graterol pitched a scoreless frame to close out the victory.
Though Buxton is still not taking swings against live pitching as he recovers from a left shoulder subluxation (partial dislocation), the Twins' center fielder was activated from the 10-day injured list before Sunday's game. He will continue to be available for fielding and running duties in the coming days.
"[Buxton] wants to be an active part of what's going on right now," Baldelli said. "We talk about his skill set and the things he can do. He does things that nobody else can do. ... I think he could certainly help us win one or more games going forward, just in this role."
Buxton had started a rehab assignment with Class A Cedar Rapids on Aug. 25 before discomfort in the shoulder felt during his first rehab game and a subsequent batting practice caused the Twins to cut the assignment short.
The challenge now with Buxton's usage as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement is that there's no way for the coaching staff to gauge if Buxton would react differently as a fielder or runner based on the limitations to his shoulder. Baldelli acknowledged that the only way to figure that out would be to subject Buxton to live game action.
"I think there's only one way to know how he's going to react to that, and it's to go out there and do it," Baldelli said. "If you go out and go on a rehab assignment, say, you could go out for five days and not get any sort of feel for what's going on. He's only going to be going out there as a defensive player. He's not going to swing in those games, either. There's no way to really test that until you go out there and do it."