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Frustrated Buxton still big part of Twins' plans

December 11, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- Byron Buxton was unhappy when the Twins didn't recall him to the Major Leagues following an extended stint in Triple-A to finish a difficult 2018 season -- and he was blunt in expressing those sentiments on Tuesday."Yes. I ain't sugarcoating nothing," Buxton told the Minneapolis Star Tribune

LAS VEGAS -- Byron Buxton was unhappy when the Twins didn't recall him to the Major Leagues following an extended stint in Triple-A to finish a difficult 2018 season -- and he was blunt in expressing those sentiments on Tuesday.
"Yes. I ain't sugarcoating nothing," Buxton told the Minneapolis Star Tribune about his displeasure with the decision. "It kind of didn't go over well."
The Twins recognized Buxton's need to get those frustrations off his chest in his first public comments regarding the decision, but said that they turned the page on the issue following the season. The organization commended his continued commitment to the Minnesota community after he traveled from his home in Georgia to take part in the Twins' holiday event on Tuesday at the Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare hospital in St. Paul.
"I would say, first and foremost, the fact that he's up in Minnesota doing the event that he did -- that he was asked to do and be a part of -- speaks to who he is and what he wants to do moving forward," Twins executive vice president and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said.

Buxton had a hot second half in 2017, hitting .300 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs, and earned the American League's Platinum Glove Award as the league's top defender. But the soon-to-be 25-year-old hit .156/.183/.200 in 28 games in 2018 and was sent on a rehab assignment for a toe injury in late June -- and stayed in Triple-A for the remainder of the season.
Because of the center fielder's extended stay in the Minor Leagues, the Twins gained one additional year of team control, pushing Buxton's eligiblity for free agency back until after the 2022 season.
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Falvey said that the Twins had exchanged a phone call and text messages with Buxton following the season, and feel "really positive" about the continued development. They've additionally had conversations with Buxton's agents and feel that the conversations are moving in the right direction, as they look ahead to focus on Buxton's continued development and offseason training regimen.

The Twins also plan for manager Rocco Baldelli to fly to Georgia to touch base with the center fielder and continue ongoing conversations.
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"I feel like as soon as Byron gets around his teammates and we get things moving going forward, he's going to be exactly what we expect him to be, and we're going to support him to be the best possible player he can be," Falvey said.

Buxton mentioned to reporters in St. Paul that he expects to have to earn the starting center field job back for the 2019 season, but Twins remain adamant that Buxton's starting role isn't in question.
"He's a huge part of our franchise moving forward and I respect the attitude he's taking coming into Spring Training," general manager Thad Levine said. "But in every planning conversation we have, this guy is central to those conversations, and he's featured prominently on this team as the center fielder."

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