The Minnesota Twins may lead the American League Central by five games, but they’ve been hammered with bad news recently: be it Michael Pineda’s suspension, Nelson Cruz’s continued wrist woes, or the revelation that Byron Buxton will undergo shoulder surgery. The Twins on Tuesday transferred him to the 60-day IL, thus ending his season.
The Twins have since confirmed that Buxton’s labrum required an operation on Tuesday, and that his timetable for rehab is five to six months:
Manager Rocco Baldelli seemed to concede surgery was likely during a MLB Network Radio appearance on Tuesday:
Here’s the pertinent part:
“Well, Buck’s out in California right now. He saw the doctor yesterday. We’re getting everything put together right now. Surgery is an option here. And so we’re basically [sitting down] and [bracing] for the realization that this could be his season ending right now. But we’re [going] to see what it looks like going forward.”
Buxton, 25, had been one of the Twins’ most valuable players this season. In 87 games, he’d hit .262/.314/.513 (114 OPS+) with 10 home runs and 14 steals on 17 tries. Factor in his all-world defense in center field, and he’d been worth more than three wins above replacement player.
Volatility has been common throughout Buxton’s career, due in part to his proneness to injury. He’s appeared in more than 100 games just once as a big-leaguer. What’s more is that he’s nearing four years of service time — all the while having recorded fewer than 400 appearances. This current stint on the IL, meanwhile, is his third of this season alone. The Twins can only hope that Buxton can stay healthier heading forward given how important he is to their success.
In Buxton’s absence, the Twins have flip-flopped between Max Kepler and Jake Cave in center and right field. Kepler has played more center on the year, so he seems likelier to be there if and when Minnesota begins postseason play.
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