Twins center fielder Byron Buxton is preaching positivity and patience in his recovery from a Grade 2 right hip strain, even though he isn't likely to be activated from the injured list when his 10-day stint ends.
Buxton said Thursday that he still hasn’t progressed enough to being able to swing a bat yet, though he hopes to begin doing so as soon as this weekend. He said he “felt the stretch” on a steal attempt against the Rangers on May 6 that resulted in him hobbling on the basepaths, and ultimately sent him to the IL.
At the time, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said it was "probably more a discussion of weeks than days” regarding Buxton’s return, and the situation doesn’t seem to be any different one week later. However, Buxton said he’s being smart in his recovery and letting the injury progress at a healthy pace.
“[I'm] kind of taking it one day at a time,” Buxton said. “With the training room, we’re doing a little bit more stuff each and every day. Not trying to push it too much, but [I've] been able to do a little bit more the last few days, as far as like walking with some sleds and putting a little bit more pressure on it. Overall, it’s coming along just fine, and just got to be smart about it, listen to the trainers and listen to my body.”
The injury could hardly have come at a worse time, as Buxton was only days removed from being named the American League Player of the Month of April. He was the team’s leader in most standard offensive categories, including hits (34), doubles (10), homers (nine), total bases (71), OPS (1.180) and steals (five). However, Buxton said that the timing of the injury isn’t what bugs him the most.
“It’s more frustrating when you feel like you’re doing everything right and injuries still seem to kind of pop up,” Buxton said. “That’s probably more frustrating than [getting injured while I’m] doing good, I guess. Because normally if you’re running into walls or whatever the situation may be, you expect at some point you’re going to be on the DL or the IL. This year I felt good, I felt confident -- still feel confident in how I was playing in the outfield. It’s just stuff that you’ve got to be positive about, keep that mental strength and take it one day at a time.”
That mental strength has been key for maintaning his positivity through his recovery, according to Buxton.
He said that he isn’t allowing himself to get into a “fog” while he isn’t on the field. To help, he’s been doing more off-field preparation, such as watching videos of pitchers and relaying information to his teammates. Though he likely won't be ready to play when the 10 days end, Buxton is working to keep his mental health at a level he hopes his physical health will meet in short order.
“With a lot of guys, when they get hurt, it's the end of the world,” Baldelli said. “But when you've been hurt and you've dealt with a lot of different disappointments, to deal with that and to continually come back with that positivity and with that energy that Buck always has every day, and to not just be there for yourself but be there for your teammates the way that he is … he’s a very special guy and I think that he’s only growing and going even further in that direction of being a leader in our group.”
Simmons out of Thursday’s lineup
Baldelli also provided an update on Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who was not in the starting lineup for Thursday afternoon's game against the White Sox after being removed in the sixth inning of Wednesday's game with right ankle inflammation. He is considered day to day.
“He's doing pretty well,” Baldelli said before the game. “I saw him in the training room. He's sore. I think [it's] improved from last night but still sore. I wanted to get him off his feet today and give him a day and see how he's doing. He's going to be available if we need him to come in -- he will be available to play. But it's not as though this is something that simply is better because we got him out of the game last night. He's still dealing with it and there's still some soreness in there.”