People center field Byron Buxton he suffered a “boxing fracture” – a fracture at the base of the fifth metacarpal in his left hand – when he was hit by a pitch during Monday night’s game against the Reds, manager Roccu Baldelli announced to journalists after the competition (Twitter link via Betsy Helfand of the St Paul Pioneer Press).
It’s a deflated injury for a Twins club that only welcomed Buxton back from a one-month absence due to a hip flexor tension last season. Buxton appeared in three games, going 4-for-10 with a home run and a double, before being hit by a pitch in Monday night’s contest. Baldelli was vague when asked about a planned recovery period for Buxton, who beats .369 / .409 / .767 with 10 homers, 11 doubles and five steals bases in just 110 plate appearances this year.
Injuries have been a frequent obstacle for Buxton in recent years, although there is little he could have done for a wanderer. Tyler Mahle fastball running on his hands (video link). It’s a lucky injury for both Buxton and the Gemini, who have racked up five straight wins while hoping for a season-saving save in the standings ahead of next month’s trade deadline. Clearly, a Buxton injury won’t do him any favors in that uphill battle.
The Gemini have gone through various options in Buxton’s absence this year, though two internal alternatives – Jake Cave and Rob Refsnyder – are on the injured list themselves at the moment. Cave’s injury, a fracture in his spine, will keep him out for the foreseeable future. Refsnyder is currently repairing a muscle strain. Long field perspective Nick Gordon he got his feet wet in the center field recently, and the player right Max Kepler has shown that it is capable of playing a solid central field over the years. Perspective Gilberto Celestino he also had a brief look, but made the jump directly from Double-A and fought hard in 10 games and 33 plate appearances.
Even with five straight wins under their belt, the Gemini are still 10 games under .500, making it highly unlikely the organization will sacrifice any talented youngsters for an immediate option to help fill the gap in the final absence. of Buxton. An in-house patch of the problem, at least in the short term, seems the most likely way, which probably means some combination of Kepler and Gordon for the time being. Veteran Keon Broxton is on hand in Triple-A St. Paul, but beats only .169 / .260 / .215 with the Saints and has waved in nearly half of his plate appearances. It would give the Gemini a competent defensive option, but their offensive troubles against Triple-A pitching are pretty glaring, to say the least.
It should be noted that while Buxton’s injury will only fuel more speculation about the Twins ’trajectory at the end of the trade, they will have at least one more chance of controlling their destiny, so to speak. Once the Gemini play a short two-game series against Cincinnati tomorrow, they will play exclusively against AL Central opponents for nearly a month.
Minnesota welcomes the Indians for four games this weekend before a seven-game trip to Chicago and Kansas City. They closed out the first half with seven at home against the South Siders and Tigers before opening the second half with four on the road in Detroit and three more in Chicago. It would obviously take a nice run on that divisional game streak – especially at the start – to change the tide in their 2021. But with a similar long run in the center of the AL on the horizon, it’s doubtful that the Twins jumped the commercial market, even after a potentially crushing injury.