SEATTLE — Byron Buxton sat in front of his locker, wrapped in towels and appearing slightly dazed as he talked to Twins trainer Tony Leo. It was a long night for Buxton, who knows better than anyone how sore he will be on Sunday.
The speedy center fielder collided with the center field wall at close to full speed in the sixth inning Saturday in a frightening but unsuccessful attempt to come down with Nelson Cruz’s home run. He collapsed to the warning track, and stayed down for a minute before Leo and manager Paul Molitor could reach him.
“I don’t think he was particularly stable when I got out there, as far as balance and everything like that. The wind got knocked out of him,” Molitor said. “He was disappointed I took him out, but I thought it was the right thing to do.”
That’s because he and Leo suspected that Buxton may have suffered a concussion or perhaps done some other damage to himself with the scary play. But he passed the concussion test and doesn’t appear to have broken anything. Just a small cut above his eye and a few days of soreness ahead.
“You’re not going to get much more violent on a baseball field,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We always we always talk about being such an elite athlete, and with that kind of speed, it just increases the chances of something going awry there. Thankfully, he tested out in fairly good condition, considering the fact that he hit the wall as hard as he did.”
The Twins lost the the Mariners, 4-3 in 12 innings, their seventh walk-off loss of the season. But the talk after the game was about Buxton and the danger of running into stationary objects. Would Molitor ever tell his Gold Glove outfielder to stop?
“I’d hate to take that away from a guy. It puts you at a higher risk, but that’s part of the gift that you have to deal with, that you’re going to run into situations like that,” Molitor said. “He’s the best in the game and that’s part of the reason. We always talk about the fearlessness of the position. I don’t want to call him foolish — it’s one of those things where he’s just trying to make a play.”