MILWAUKEE -- Byron Buxton is a big part of the Twins' present and he is going to be a big part of their future. For that to happen, he has to stay on the field, which is something that has been an issue to accomplish over his short time in the big leagues.
Buxton was placed on the injured list for the fourth time this season on Aug. 3 with a left shoulder subluxation after running into a wall against the Marlins on Aug. 1.
The Twins have maintained the position that they want their Gold Glove center fielder to play with no fear and to not change the way that he plays, but after another trip to the IL due to a nasty run-in with an outfield wall, the time may be approaching for Minnesota to protect him from himself.
“Have we looked into and talked about numerous ways to help Buck with that? Of course,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We want Buck on the field. We want him to be able to go out there and run around, and swing the bat, and do all the things that he can do. And if he's hurt, obviously he can't do those things.
“There's specific things like that, but then there's also the general discussion of, if you do catch five fewer balls this year, but you are able to not hit the wall, or not deal with the injuries associated with that, that's a tradeoff that we're going to take.”
Buxton is considered to be one of the MLB’s best defensive center fielders, if not the best. Elite center fielders in the past like Ken Griffey Jr., Andruw Jones and even former Twins star Torii Hunter, all had to adjust to stay on the field as they battled injuries.
Prior to Buxton’s latest stint on the injured list, Baldelli spoke about some things that the team has looked at to help keep Buxton healthy, including his outfield positioning.
The goal being that playing deeper in the outfield would prevent Buxton from running full speed into the wall. While that is easier to implement in-season, others adjustments to help avoid injury are not as easy to implement, which may need to wait until the offseason, or even Spring Training.
“Well, you can start to talk about it now, I just don't know if you're gonna get the results that you want right now. I would also say there's two ways of talking about it. There's one specific adjustment that we just talked about -- playing a little deeper. Which for plays at the wall, you're not gonna be running at absolutely full speed when you make those plays if you start deeper," Baldelli said.
“So yeah, do we look into a lot of those things? For sure. Implementing them is a different story. That might take time and openness from a player to do it. And it doesn't happen overnight. It's not something that's gonna happen overnight.”