HBP sends Buxton to IL with rib contusion

June 7th, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Twins’ plan to keep healthier by limiting him to designated hitter had been paying off -- but once again, a hit-by-pitch mishap has sidelined the dynamic star.

The Twins placed Buxton on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday (retroactive to Saturday) with a left rib contusion, stemming from the incident on Thursday, when he was struck in the ribs by a 96.7 mph fastball from Guardians right-hander Tanner Bibee. The move created a slot on the active roster for outfielder Trevor Larnach, who returned from an absence due to pneumonia.

Both Buxton and the Twins had been hopeful that he might have avoided the worst and could be healthy enough for Tuesday’s game. But after testing out several players for a possible roster move ahead of the 7-0 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, Minnesota ultimately opted to make the move with Buxton.

Buxton will be eligible for reinstatement from the IL next Tuesday, when the Twins open their next homestand against the Brewers.

Though the X-rays of Buxton’s ribs showed no fractures, he was in enough pain in the immediate aftermath of being struck that he had to sleep in a rocking chair that first night. Due in part to Buxton’s bruising, the Twins have had to play with a very shorthanded bench, with Carlos Correa unavailable until Tuesday due to continued pain from the recurrence of plantar fasciitis in his left heel and an illness for Alex Kirilloff.

“Buck wasn’t able to do a lot,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “The pain was still there. … It’s a serious contusion. The initial scans said no break. What’s going on in there, what the healing process looks like, I don’t know. He’s probably banged up pretty good. And when he went to the cage, we just knew he wasn’t playing today, he’s probably not playing tomorrow.”

Buxton had played in 50 of the Twins’ first 57 games, a largely successful start to his campaign from a health standpoint, slashing .220/.325/.445 with 10 homers and six stolen bases, though a period of aggressive baserunning led him to have to take some time off due to tightness in his right knee.

Because the issue is only a contusion, it seems the Twins might have avoided something more serious, which hasn’t always been the case when Buxton has been struck by a pitch.

Buxton was hit in the forearm by Kansas City’s Brad Keller in 2019, which sidelined him for 13 games. In ‘20, the Reds’ Lucas Sims hit Buxton in the head, giving him concussion-like symptoms ahead of the playoffs. And in ‘21, he was struck in the left hand by Tyler Mahle, sustaining a fracture that cost him two months.

“To know nothing’s wrong and it’s just a bruise, for me, that’s a big positive,” Buxton said on Friday following his X-rays. “Most of the time, I’m on the other end of that kind of deal. So [I’m] definitely in good spirits.”