Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Notes: Scare for Cruz; progress for Buxton

@dohyoungpark
February 19, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Nelson Cruz's ruptured wrist tendon is ... the gift that keeps on giving? Cruz was hitting as part of a live batting practice group with Eddie Rosario, Willians Astudillo and Josh Donaldson on Wednesday when a pitch from Cody Stashak ran inside and hit Cruz on

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Nelson Cruz's ruptured wrist tendon is ... the gift that keeps on giving?

Cruz was hitting as part of a live batting practice group with Eddie Rosario, Willians Astudillo and Josh Donaldson on Wednesday when a pitch from Cody Stashak ran inside and hit Cruz on his left wrist. Though Cruz walked off the field while wincing, X-rays did not reveal any structural injuries, and the Twins expect their designated hitter to be fine in a few days.

"Anytime you have live BPs going on, there’s always a possibility," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "It’s not good when anyone gets hit. We're going to make sure Nellie’s OK before he gets back out there. I’m sure it won’t be long."

In a fortunate twist that Cruz laughed about in the clubhouse, the slugger said that the pitch hit the area that had been previously occupied by the ruptured extensor carpi ulnaris tendon in the wrist, which actually lessened the pain from the hit.

"That's a good thing that I didn't have the tendon there," Cruz joked.

Keeping the 39-year-old Cruz healthy will be of paramount importance to the Twins not just this spring, but throughout the regular season. Despite his advanced age and a scare with the ruptured tendon last season, Cruz led the Twins with a 1.031 OPS and 41 homers as their fixture at designated hitter.

There's really no reason for the Twins to rush Cruz back in any way. The veteran is already relatively free to dictate his preferred pace to the club as part of what Baldelli jokingly refers to as Cruz's "veteran preparation program."

Buxton scales up participation in fielding, hitting
In an encouraging sign of progress, center fielder Byron Buxton participated in live batting practice on Wednesday. He took two turns at the plate and did not swing at any pitches from right-handers Zack Littell and Jhoulys Chacín. Baldelli does not expect Buxton to swing in these sessions, but Buxton will continue to progress in his hitting program in the batting cages.

Buxton, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in September, also fully participated in the Twins' defensive drills in the stadium, which included tracking fly balls and relay drills on throws into the infield from the warning track. The Twins are not limiting his execution in the fielding and baserunning drills.

"We're getting him on his feet; we're moving him around," Baldelli said. "We're not really limiting him in any regard. He can do some things. We're letting him do those things."

The Twins are still taking a measured approach to Buxton's recovery this spring, and the only goal is to have the center fielder ready to play by Opening Day. Baldelli said at the start of Spring Training that Buxton could participate in spring games by mid-March.

Odds and ends
• Rookie left-hander Devin Smeltzer said he felt the "best [he] ever had" after throwing his live batting practice session on Wednesday. He looked the part. He got noted contact king Luis Arraez to swing and miss three times -- once each on the fastball, changeup and curveball -- in one session. Arraez's 7.9 percent whiff rate was the lowest among all MLB hitters with at least 250 plate appearances last season.

Pitching coach Wes Johnson said earlier this offseason that the Twins hoped for a little bit of extra velocity out of Smeltzer this season. He had been working to better utilize his lower half in his delivery and also added muscle over the winter.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.