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Ailing Twins plan to get healthy this offseason

Buxton hopes to be ready by Spring Training; Cron could have surgery
@dohyoungpark
October 11, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins were about as whole as they could have hoped to be for the American League Division Series following the returns from injury of Max Kepler, Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza and Luis Arraez. That said, there's a significant difference between being healthy enough to play and having

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins were about as whole as they could have hoped to be for the American League Division Series following the returns from injury of Max Kepler, Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza and Luis Arraez.

That said, there's a significant difference between being healthy enough to play and having a clean bill of health, and Twins players often found themselves closer to the former throughout the season. Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said that there were days when around half of his roster was "borderline unavailable to play," and that he and his medical staff often needed to evaluate his players on a daily basis to determine lineups and availability.

"If it wasn't for many of our players going out there and playing at less than 100 percent -- far less, in some cases -- we probably wouldn't be sitting here saying that we also won the division," Baldelli said.

Some injuries were more serious, like the torn labrum in Byron Buxton's left shoulder or the capsule tear in Sam Dyson's right shoulder that each required season-ending surgery. But many of the issues that the Twins dealt with were on the magnitude of days, not weeks, from the wear and tear of a 162-game season that can finally begin to heal in earnest during the offseason.

Here's a look at where the more significant injury issues for the Twins stand following the conclusion of the club's season:

Buxton

Buxton is now out of the sling that immobilized his left arm, and he will eventually move his rehab process to his home in Georgia for the offseason. When the Twins' center fielder underwent labrum repair surgery in September, the initial thought was that the recovery process would take five to six months, but Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey expressed hope on Wednesday that Buxton could be healthy in time to participate when Spring Training begins in February.

Buxton looks to heal, make '20 a breakout year

"The reason we did it at the time we did ... was to give us as much offseason as possible to get him to be healthy," Falvey said. "So far, so good. No setbacks with respect to that. So we fully anticipate he’s in a position where the month of January and going into February, he’s capable of doing a lot of things that would be more baseball-oriented, that would get him to be healthy come Spring Training, and hopefully we’re not behind when he shows up in Fort Myers [, Fla.]."

Dyson

Dyson underwent season-ending capsule repair surgery in September after he had experienced pain in his throwing arm not only in 2019, but also throughout his '18 season with the Giants, he said earlier this month. For now, Dyson's goal is to get out of the sling immobilizing his right arm and regain motion in the area. The range of motion of the sling will be expanded on a regular basis to free him up gradually, and Dyson hopes to know more about his recovery by the end of the month.

Dyson said that the injury caused a dip in his velocity last season from the 95-96 mph range to around 93-94 mph, and that persisted into his '19 campaign with both the Giants and the Twins. He revealed that by the time he opted to undergo the procedure, he could hardly throw a ball, even after a 10-day layoff. With the recovery time from the procedure expected to take up to a year, Dyson is a candidate to be non-tendered by the Twins this offseason.

"I don't think there have been too many guys that have had this particular injury, so I don't really know what the recovery was like for them," Dyson said. "The doctor seemed pretty confident in his repair and that I would be able to play again, so that's all I'm really concerned about, is that opportunity, that chance."

Kepler

Kepler healed enough from a lingering left rhomboid strain to play in the ALDS against the Yankees, but he did not appear to be at 100 percent when he went 0-for-10 with three walks and three strikeouts over Minnesota's three-game sweep. The Twins remain confident that Kepler's muscle strain will subside with time, though he will follow up with another specialist out of caution.

"We don’t believe there’s anything in there that’s problematic going forward," Falvey said. "We believe rest is the best prescription here in the short term. ... We’ve had that looked at from a lot of different angles and feel like it’s about time to get him back to where he needs to be."

C.J. Cron

Cron never did fully recover from a bone bruise in his right thumb that persisted throughout the second half of the regular season, and Falvey said that surgery could be an option to facilitate the recovery process after the first baseman consults with a doctor and a surgeon. Cron first hit the injured list for the thumb before the All-Star break and was held to 47 games and a .700 OPS in the second half due to the injury.

"So we may have an update on that in the short term here on what his next steps are on that front," Falvey said. "But there could be a potential for a procedure to help alleviate some of the stuff he's been dealing with."

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