Byron Buxton crashed into the bullpen wall on Thursday as Jonah Heim's home run carried about two inches beyond his glove, then fell to the ground in a heap. The Twins' center fielder caught his breath, dusted himself off and walked back to his position, unscathed.
Hitting routine ground balls, though, turned out to be the real danger to the Twins' hottest hitter in a 4-3 loss to Texas.
Buxton didn't run at top speed after hitting a seventh-inning grounder, then pulled up awkwardly at first base two innings later after hitting another grounder. Buxton walked slowly to the Twins' dugout and was removed from the game.
The injury was diagnosed as a strained hip, the Twins announced after the 4-3 loss to Texas, and his status remains uncertain. Officially, Buxton is listed as day-to-day, but other people's injuries may force him to the 10-day injured list.
The Twins are already missing Luis Arraez, out with concussion symptoms, and Alex Kirilloff, whose sprained wrist will be examined by a specialist in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday. If Buxton will need a few days off, the Twins might need to call up Brent Rooker or another outfielder from Class AAA St. Paul to provide depth.
"I don't know exactly when it happened," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, though he ruled out the collision with the wall. "Obviously this is something he couldn't run through."
Nick Gordon drew a walk in the second inning, his first major league plate appearance, and singled two innings later. Both times, he quickly swiped second, becoming the first Twin ever to steal two bases in his big-league debut.
Buxton also stole a base, only the third time in the last four seasons that the Twins have recorded three steals in a game. It also allowed the Twins to equal, in just 30 games, the 14 stolen bases they managed in last year's 60-game season, fewest in the majors.
Rogers goes hard
Taylor Rogers blitzed through the Rangers with little problem, striking out all four batters he faced on just 15 pitches. But once Rogers finished off the fourth of them, pinch-hitter Andy Ibanez, Baldelli hopped out of the dugout and removed the lefthander.
The reason, the manager pointed out, was obvious: Rogers has thrown 58 pitches during this four-game series, and Baldelli wants him available for at least part of the series in Detroit.
"We got a lot out of him today. If we had unlimited ability for our guys [to throw] 40 or 50 pitches, that's different. But that's not the reality," Baldelli said. "Asking Rog to do any more today, I don't think that would have been right."