FORT MYERS, FLA -- Byron Buxton won a Platinum Glove award for last season for his excellence in the field. For him, spring training is about developing the other aspects of his game.
And Sunday was a day in which Buxton’s bat and baserunning impressed as the Twins beat the Phillies 4-3 at Hammond Stadium. The Twins won the game on Gregorio Petit’s solo home run in the eighth inning.
Buxton batted in the second inning and dropped a perfect bunt toward third base. Philadelphia third baseman Scott Kingery - their top position prospect - tried to make a quick throw but Buxton was safe. Buxton wants to use the bunt more effectively this season.
“I’m more comfortable bunting down to third base than first base, so I’ve really been working on bunting down first,” he said. “Today, I just tried to bunt it toward third.”
A few pitches later, Buxton took off for second and stole his fifth base in 13 spring training games. Buxton then scored easily from second during Ehire Adrianza’s two-run triple.
After lining out in the third inning, Buxton came to the plate in the sixth and sent a soft liner just to the right of center field that split a defense that was swung over toward left field. Buxton cruised into third base with his first triple of the spring. He scored on Max Kepler’s groundout to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. Buxton went 2-for-3 on Sunday to lift his batting average to .265.
“I don’t think there are many more enjoyable things than watching him hit a triple,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Maybe an inside the park (home run).”
It was just a week ago on Monday when Buxton struck out four times against the Yankees, but Molitor said he was not worried about his center fielder.
All the Twins work was undone in the seventh inning when reliever Ryan Pressly gave up a game tying, three run home run to Jesmuel Valentin. Valentin is the son of former major leaguer Jose Valentin and nephew of former Twin Javier Valentin.
But Gregorio Petit hit a solo home run in the eighth giving the Twins a 4-3 win. Trevor Hildenberger got the win with Taylor Rogers picked up the save.