Byron Buxton couldn’t reach Harold Ramirez’s second-inning triple on Thursday, but his full-speed momentum carried him into the wall at Miami’s Marlins Park, a shoulder-first collision that wasn’t serious enough to knock the Twins center fielder out of the game.
Well, not that game.
A day later, Buxton’s left shoulder was more tender from the collision, and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who penciled in Buxton for Friday’s lineup against the Royals, changed his mind. Buxton was scratched, and Max Kepler moved to center field for the 33rd time this season in what ended up as an 11-9 victory.
“Buck was pretty sore today,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to have him assessed tomorrow.”
It’s the third injury that has knocked Buxton out of the lineup in six weeks, following a wrist injury that sidelined him in June and concussion-like symptoms that cost him two weeks of July. Buxton hasn’t played a game in Target Field in nearly a month, since July 7.
Cron set to return
C.J. Cron was in uniform early Friday to serve as the designated hitter for the Twins’ Gulf Coast League rookie-level team. The game started at 10:03 a.m., “probably not what he’s used to,” Baldelli said, which may help explain his 0-for-4 outing against future Red Sox rookies.
Or maybe he was just anxious to catch a plane to Minneapolis, which Cron did later in the day. The first baseman’s rehab assignment was cut short after one Class A and one GCL game, but the Twins learned what they needed to. “His thumb and hand are feeling good,” Baldelli said. “He’s going to be ready to go soon,” perhaps as soon as Saturday.
In what might be a related move, rookie Lewis Thorpe gave up a run on three hits in relief of fellow lefthander Martin Perez on Friday, then was informed after the game that he is being sent back to Class AAA Rochester. Baldelli wouldn’t say whether the Twins intend to replace Thorpe with another reliever, or reduce the bullpen to seven members in order to activate Cron.
Dyson struggles again
Sam Dyson’s introduction to Target Field didn’t go much better than his Twins debut a day earlier. But it just gave the invenerately optimistic Baldelli a chance to point out that he’s only going to get better.
Dyson, who didn’t retire any of the four batters he faced Thursday in Miami, allowed a double and two singles to the first three Royals he faced in his new home ballpark. By the time he was lifted after retiring two hitters but allowing three runs on four hits, Dyson’s 2.47 ERA, built over 51 innings with the Giants, had risen to 3.48.
“He’s a good pitcher. Good pitchers have a couple of games where they’re not throwing the ball the way they want to,” Baldelli said. “He’s a pro. He knows that. He knows what he needs to do to get the job done.”
Dyson will still be a critical seventh- and eight-inning pitcher, Baldelli said. “The fact we’ve gone to him two times in a short period of time, I think he knows how we feel about him,” the manager said. “We’re going to continue to support him and put him out there.”
• Baldelli defended shortstop Jorge Polanco’s effort on Neil Walker’s tying, ninth-inning single on Thursday, saying the opinion, common on social media, that Polanco should have dived for the ball was misguided.
• Saturday’s game will not start at 6:10 p.m. as scheduled, as the Twins conduct a ceremony on the field to induct Joe Nathan, the franchise’s all-time saves leader, into the Twins Hall of Fame.
• Dyson, on his first impression of pitching coach Wes Johnson, who came to the Twins after two seasons at the University of Arkansas: “We’re SEC rivals. I went to University of South Carlona, so I may or may not like him. I don’t know yet.”