Buxton to IL with hip strain; timetable TBD

May 8th, 2021

Star Twins center fielder is headed to the 10-day injured list after an MRI revealed a Grade 2 right hip strain, manager Rocco Baldelli announced before Friday's game against the Tigers. Buxton won't need surgery, but his timetable wasn't immediately known.

The Twins are hopeful that Buxton's status will be more clear after 10 days, but the expectation is that his return is "probably more a discussion of weeks than days," Baldelli said, adding that he would have a better feel for a timetable over the next few days.

“He's going to go on the IL, there's no way around it,” Baldelli added. “It's not something that can be played through. So he's going to be out for a bit.”

To replace Buxton on the roster, the club selected the contract of outfielder Trevor Larnach, the club’s No. 3 prospect and the 68th best prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. To clear a space on the 40-man roster, the Twins designated left-handed pitcher Brandon Waddell for assignment.

Larnach was in uniform for the Twins’ opener at Detroit on Friday, wearing No. 24.

Buxton, long regarded as one of the game's top prospects as a Minor Leaguer, was flourishing through 24 games this season, hitting .370 with a .408 on-base percentage and Major League-leading .772 slugging percentage entering Friday's games. The 27-year-old was injured during Thursday's 10-inning loss to the Rangers, the Twins' third straight defeat.

Something initially appeared off with Buxton when he chose not to run out a ground ball to third base in the seventh inning, but he remained in the game. But in the ninth inning, he tried running out another ground ball to third -- and that time, something appeared to catch in his leg, and he hobbled across the first-base bag. Jake Cave replaced him in center field for the bottom of the ninth.

Buxton also collided with the center-field wall in the top of the seventh, when he made a leaping attempt at Jonah Heim’s game-tying homer off Hansel Robles.

Baldelli said Max Kepler and Cave will both see time in center field in Buxton’s absence. Cave played center against the Tigers on Friday, with Kepler in right.

Compensating for Buxton’s absence will not be easy. At the time of his injury, he was the team’s leader in every meaningful offensive category, including hits (34), doubles (10), homers (nine), total bases (71), OPS (1.180) and steals (five).

Kirilloff receives injection
Alex Kirilloff (sprained right wrist) saw a hand and wrist specialist, Dr. Thomas Graham, in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday and, according to Baldelli, received an injection. A recovery timetable is still undetermined.

“Sometimes guys can play with this and sometimes guys truly cannot play with this,” Baldelli said. “It's a very, very particular type of injury that is specific to every individual person, their pain that they're feeling, their tolerance and their ability to still swing a bat.

“It's different in every case so really this is now a time for us to give this a little bit of time and have Alex test it out to see where he's going to fall, and if he's going to be able to swing the bat with this.”

Attendance boost
Hints of a return to normalcy are popping up everywhere. On Friday, the Twins were given a boost with the news that their ballpark will soon get fuller, and, by extension, probably louder.

Minnesota governor Tim Walz announced a three-step timeline that will end nearly all state COVID-19 restrictions by May 28. The first step, effective Friday, removed limits for outdoor dining, events and other get-togethers.

That’s a green light for the Twins to immediately make more seats available at Target Field for fans. Single-game tickets for the next 12 scheduled home games, from May 14-30, went on sale Friday.

“The Minnesota Twins organization is absolutely ecstatic that we will soon be able to welcome even more of our fans back into Target Field, where they can gather to eat, drink and safely enjoy a summer of outdoor baseball -- together,” the club said in a statement. “Most importantly, we are grateful that our state and region continue to be on a path toward improved health and a return to normalcy.“

The Twins added that beyond the next 12 games, they’ll be “ramping up to full capacity as appropriate.”