SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – Since the Twins hadn’t played a game since last Thursday, they presumably had plenty of time to rest the few aches and pains they had and face the Cleveland Indians with a squad at full strength.
Not quite, as outfielder Byron Buxton was a late scratch because of a migraine. Buxton had played in all 11 games before Tuesday’s development.
Max Kepler moved from right field to play center in place of Buxton. Robbie Grossman was scheduled to be a reserve, but went into right field while taking over Buxton’s No. 8 spot in the batting order. Defensively, losing the platinum-glove winning Buxton was a setback to the Twins as they faced Cleveland for the first time this season.
Last season, Buxton made several strong defensive plays against the Indians. After he showed no regard for his health while smashing into the wall to rob Carlos Santana of a hit during a May 14 game at Progressive Field, Indians manager Terry Francona said, “That kid in center field is probably still catching something now. He’s unbelievable. He’s everywhere.”
Buxton, batting .195 with two RBI and four stolen bases, is considered day to day.
Lending a hand
In addition to the regular traveling party, about 20 Twins front office staff and employees made the trip to Puerto Rico for the games against the Indians. That included owner Jim Pohlad, Twins great Tony Oliva and mascot T.C. Bear.
Many of them took part in volunteer events in the area, such as renovating buildings and restoring water and power to areas that were hit hard by Hurricane Maria last year.
Eddie Rosario visited his old high school in Guayama, where he held a news conference. Jose Berrios took a group of Twins, including Joe Mauer, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson and Tyler Kinley, to a local hospital to visit patients.
On Tuesday, the Twins and Major League Baseball donated a cargo truck, a van and building supplies — a $350,000 package in all — to Habitat for Humanity.
If the price is right
The Twins, during spring training, reached out to several of their young, emerging players about signing long-term deals. But one by one, they declined.
Both Berrios and Rosario were asked Tuesday if they are willing to sign such deals in the future.
“The Twins gave me the opportunity to play,” said Berrios, who is in his second year of service time and is making $570,000 this season. “I would love to continue my entire career playing for the Twins. And would love to come to an agreement and stay here for many years.”
Said Rosario, who is making $602,500 this season: “Right now we are focusing on just playing baseball.”