As the manager, Paul Molitor tries to keep from being distracted, tries to pay attention to the entire field. But Byron Buxton isn’t making it easy.
“When he’s on the field, you don’t want to take your eyes off him. Every swing, if he puts it in play, you watch him run,” Molitor said Tuesday. “It’s just constant, potential, electrifying giftedness. It’s something you don’t want to miss. … I’m trying to pay attention to things I need to, but when the guy hits the ball in the gap, I’m following him. He catches your eye.”
That speed enables him to make unexpected plays all over the field, from stretching hits to catching fly balls to beating out rollers. Buxton hit a routine grounder to shortstop Monday and beat it out because he reached first base in less than four seconds, rare for a righthanded hitter.
Speed isn’t always enough, though, as the Twins were reminded Tuesday. Buxton singled to center in the seventh, but was thrown out trying to steal for the second time this season.
“Sometimes the numbers don’t add up, even if you’re one of the fastest guys in the game,” Molitor said.
Still, Buxton is definitely one of those. Ever see anyone faster?
“Let’s see,” Molitor said, pretending to consider the question. “I don’t know track very well.”
Back to batting ninth
“The fan in me,” Molitor said, wanted to keep Buxton in the leadoff spot Tuesday, after his three-hit performance the previous night. But facing Jeff Samardzija and his slider is a lot different than beating up on John Danks, and Molitor isn’t ready yet to add that sort of pressure to the rookie outfielder.
Buxton batted ninth, as he had in his first eight games, and the manager was ready to take the heat for it.
“I didn’t want to get caught up in the emotion of it. Obviously when a guy like that is that talented, you’re always going to open yourself up a little bit” to criticism, Molitor said. “We’ll see how Samardzija does. If it’s a rough night for us, people are going to say, ‘You changed a good thing.’ But you’ve got [to] trust [your instincts]. You don’t second-guess yourself, you just try to do what’s right.”
His instincts might have been right. Buxton struck out and grounded out before singling against Samardzija.
• Mike Pelfrey and Kurt Suzuki never will have to pay to attend a baseball game. That’s because each was awarded a Lifetime Pass from MLB on Tuesday, after officially surpassing eight years of service time in the major leagues. All MLB players receive the gold cards, valid for the recipient and one guest for the player’s lifetime, after eight full seasons (of 172 days each). Team employees receive them after 25 years.
• Center fielder Aaron Hicks took batting practice with his teammates and completed a full workout, as he recovers from a strained right forearm. He is eligible to return Sunday, but Ryan said the team has not yet decided whether a rehab stint will be required.
• Ricky Nolasco was fitted with orthotic footwear, in hopes it relieves the pain he feels in his right ankle when he pitches. Nolasco threw on level ground Tuesday, and the Twins hope he’s able to throw off a mound Thursday or Friday, Ryan said.
• Class AAA catcher Josmil Pinto is traveling with the Rochester Red Wings on their current road trip, “which is a good sign,” Ryan said. Pinto is recovering from a concussion, and has begun working out.
“The next step is to get him on the field, which will be soon,” Ryan said.