Buxton out as Twins set AL Wild Card roster

October 3rd, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS -- Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis are in. Byron Buxton is out. And with no other surprises, the 26 men tasked with ending the Twins’ 18-game playoff losing streak are locked in.

Though the Twins remained coy about the status of their three franchise cornerstones following Monday’s final workout at Target Field to evaluate their health, this was the expected outcome.

Correa was always going to be on the roster following time off for his plantar fasciitis, and though Lewis did not outwardly exhibit optimism when he spoke to media on Monday, his left hamstring strain healed enough in two weeks for him to swing without pain, and he also took grounders at third base as part of Monday’s baseball activities.

Lewis’ importance to the team is such that the Twins will take whatever they can get from him, even as he’s limited in his running and potentially held out of the defensive alignment, which could likely force the Twins to play the much-improved glove of Edouard Julien at second and Jorge Polanco out of position at third.

“He's good enough where he can run the bases,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “If he's on first base and someone hits it in the gap and he stays in a good spot, relatively under control, he can score. He can do a lot of things right now. The infield-hit part of it, that might be one part of the discussion we'll have to wait and see.”

It’s a tough break for Buxton, who appears not to have shown the Twins enough in his behind-the-scenes workouts for them to give him the final roster slot over, say, defense and baserunning specialist Andrew Stevenson or rookie reliever Kody Funderburk.

Buxton had been fighting an uphill battle, as he’d only taken 14 Minor League at-bats since hitting the IL on Aug. 1 while the Twins’ offense thrived to finish the season.

He had exclusively held the DH slot for most of the season in the hopes that his continually painful right knee could ease up in time for the games that mattered most -- but it didn’t, with Baldelli noting that Buxton had continued to experience “minor setbacks” in his push for the roster.

“It was a hard, emotional talk when I spoke with him, because talking about these things is difficult and frustrating, too, at times,” Baldelli said. “We both were sitting in the room knowing that he wasn't going to be able to play in this series.”

Full roster

Catcher (2): Ryan Jeffers, Christian Vázquez
Infielders (7): Carlos Correa, Kyle Farmer, Edouard Julien, Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Jorge Polanco, Donovan Solano
Outfielders (4): Matt Wallner, Michael A. Taylor, Max Kepler, Andrew Stevenson
Utility (1): Willi Castro

Starting pitchers (3): Pablo López, Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan
Relief pitchers (9): Jhoan Duran, Brock Stewart, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Emilio Pagán, Kody Funderburk, Louie Varland, Chris Paddack, Kenta Maeda