FORT MYERS, FLA. – When the Class AA New Britain Rock Cats head north from spring training early next week, Byron Buxton probably won’t be with them.
The Twins’ top prospect remains sidelined because of a sprained left wrist, and the team confirmed Wednesday that Buxton is likely to start the season on the disabled list.
The 20-year-old outfielder has not played since injuring his left wrist while diving for a fly ball March 16. He still feels soreness when he swings a bat, though a magnetic resonance imaging exam taken Saturday revealed no structural damage to the wrist. He has been limited to playing catch and doing conditioning workouts since the injury, which has been diagnosed as a sprain of the pisotriquetral joint, which can be slow to heal.
Buxton likely will be sidelined for another couple of weeks, meaning he would miss the start of the Eastern League season next Thursday. Because he will have been out of action for so long, the Twins expect to keep him in Florida while he heals, “so when he’s ready to go, he can get some at-bats in [extended spring training] games and not worry about the weather or anything else,” assistant general manager Rob Antony said.
Buxton has been rated the No. 1 prospect in the minor leagues by Baseball America, ESPN and several other outlets. He batted a combined .334 with 12 home runs and 55 stolen bases at Class A Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers last season, and was to begin play with New Britain this year.
Miguel Sano, the Twins’ other top hitting prospect, underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery last month and will miss the entire 2014 season.
The Twins aren’t convinced yet that Pedro Florimon is ready to play every day, mostly because his timing at the plate has been sporadic. Manager Ron Gardenhire suggested for the first time Wednesday that the Twins shortstop isn’t certain to be in the Opening Day lineup.
“His at-bats are at times good, at times not so good. So he’s got some work to do offensively, and we’re watching that very carefully,” Gardenhire said of the 27-year-old Florimon, who is 3-for-20 with seven strikeouts since recovering from surgery to remove his appendix in mid-February. “We want to make sure that when we break here, he’s ready to do this. If I feel his swing isn’t there yet, then I would have to do something. We just need him to put the ball in play, no strikeouts.”
Gardenhire and his coaching staff met with Tony La Russa, who is helping Major League Baseball implement its new replay system this spring, after Wednesday’s game, to go over the rules and answer questions.
The Twins close their spring season with three games against the Red Sox, starting Thursday night across Fort Myers at Boston’s jetBlue Park. Kevin Correia will start for the Twins against fellow righthander John Lackey.