FORT MYERS, FLA. – Byron Buxton has been working out at the CenturyLink Sports Complex in recent weeks as he continues his recovery from left shoulder surgery. He has been cleared to start swinging a bat, but has not yet joined teammates in on-field batting cage sessions.
The Twins are in no rush to press their fleet-footed center fielder into service. Buxton still has a fair chance of making the Opening Day roster, but likely won’t appear in spring training games until mid-March.
“I mean, just in my own mind, I had expectations. He’s probably above that level,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think he feels great, so he’s ramping things up. We’re going to keep him at a good, steady pace because the goal is to get Buck ready so he’s ready to play Opening Day and that’s really what our focus is going to be on.”
Buxton injured his shoulder Aug. 1 while running into a wall in Miami. He had surgery Sept. 10 in Los Angeles. The Twins were 53-25 with Buxton in the lineup and 48-36 without him. Injuries have limited him to 28 games in 2018 and 87 last season. So, yes, they will be careful with him.
After six days, a trade to Boston that was scuttled and a trade to Los Angeles that was delayed, the Twins finally have righthander Kenta Maeda. The Twins received Maeda, catching prospect Jair Camargo and $10 million in exchange for righthander Brusdar Graterol, outfield prospect Luke Raley and their competitive balance pick in round B of the June draft.
It cost the Twins a pitcher who can throw 100 miles per hour with ease. Graterol now heads to the Dodgers, where he could be the understudy to current closer Kenley Jansen.
“It was really hard to give up Brusdar,” said Derek Falvey, president of baseball operations. “He’s a tremendous young arm, he’s incredibly talented, he’s going to do great work for the Dodgers.
“I was going back and forth with [Dodgers executive] Andrew Friedman last night, just singing his praises and telling Andrew a few things about him that I thought would be helpful as he gets to know him. That’s never easy, when you give up young talent like that. That said, to get someone like Kenta Maeda, [contract] control for the next four years, and really someone who we think is going to be a big part of our, not just our short term here, but our long term, we think you have to give up something. It was difficult for us, be we feel Kenta makes our 2020 team quite a bit better, and [for] subsequent seasons as well.”
Maeda will travel to Fort Myers on Wednesday and be at the park Thursday. He has the club’s blessing to report a day late.
• Falvey said righthander Jhoulys Chacin definitely is in the mix for the final spot in the starting rotation. The Twins’ analytics team will go to work, trying to figure out why Chacin went from 15-8 in 2018 to 3-12 last year.
• Among position players reporting to camp Tuesday were shortstop Jorge Polanco, second baseman Luis Arraez, right fielder Max Kepler and outfielders Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade Jr. Several prospects, including shortstop Nick Gordon and outfielders Trevor Larnach and Brent Rooker, also arrived.