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Defensive whiz Buxton also impresses with bat

Twins center fielder has renewed confidence in the batter's box
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- While Byron Buxton has continued to prove himself to be an elite defender in center field, as evidenced by his leaping catch to rob Nelson Cruz of a potential three-run homer on Friday, it's Buxton's offense this month that has the Twins excited about his future.

Since being called up Sept. 1, Buxton is hitting .301/.354/.601 with seven homers, four doubles, a triple and 16 RBIs in 21 games entering Saturday. He's incorporated more of a leg kick to help with his timing, but said it's a renewed confidence in the batter's box that has helped him the most.

Full Game Coverage

MINNEAPOLIS -- While Byron Buxton has continued to prove himself to be an elite defender in center field, as evidenced by his leaping catch to rob Nelson Cruz of a potential three-run homer on Friday, it's Buxton's offense this month that has the Twins excited about his future.

Since being called up Sept. 1, Buxton is hitting .301/.354/.601 with seven homers, four doubles, a triple and 16 RBIs in 21 games entering Saturday. He's incorporated more of a leg kick to help with his timing, but said it's a renewed confidence in the batter's box that has helped him the most.

Full Game Coverage

"I think most of it is just the work I've put in the cages with the hitting coaches and going out there and just playing the game," Buxton said. "I'm not going up there thinking too much or pressing. I'm up there trying to be aggressive. I feel more confident and prepared in the box. I feel like that allows me to take that pressure off. I can just be myself."

Buxton said getting sent down to the Minors on Aug. 8 allowed him to take a step back and stop putting so much pressure on himself to succeed. Buxton has had to deal with the hype of being a top prospect for years now, and said he's learned how to cope with that.

"I was definitely pressing before I went down, thinking too much," Buxton said. "Going back down told me to stop worrying about stuff. Stop worrying about striking out, stop worrying about walks. Just go up there and be aggressive and be ready to hit."

Twins manager Paul Molitor has liked what he's seen from Buxton, but said there's still room to improve, even on the defensive end.

"Despite all the highlights, we're looking for little things he can do better like reads and jumps," Molitor said. "He has a tendency to go back on balls he needs to come up with. But he has the speed to recover. Wall comfortability isn't really an issue because he plays fearless. But last night, no question, to turn his back on the ball and get into position to make the catch is a huge part of his game."

Video: SEA@MIN: Buxton leaps and robs a homer from Cruz

Worth noting

• Right-hander Ervin Santana told Molitor he wants to make one more start this season so he'll take the mound on Wednesday against the Royals. The Twins allowed the veteran to decide whether he wanted to make one more start or shut it down this year. He's easily been Minnesota's best starter this season, posting a 3.37 ERA in 29 outings.

• With left-hander Ariel Miranda on the mound for the Mariners, first baseman Joe Mauer was held out of the lineup yet again. But Molitor said Mauer is likely to play in the Target Field finale on Sunday against right-hander Taijuan Walker.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

 

Minnesota Twins, Byron Buxton