Byron Buxton knows the reaction that any declaration of health is certain to provoke in Twins fans, so on Saturday, his confident and reassuring TwinsFest announcement — "I'm going back to center, simple as that" — came with a disclaimer.

"What makes me so sure?" Buxton said. "My body tells me that. I wouldn't have said it if I wasn't sure."

That news alone may be the most important roster change the Twins can make this offseason, because the difference between a healthy Buxton in the outfield and the hobbled Buxton who was limited to a designated hitter role last season is dramatic. The 30-year-old Buxton batted just .207 last season — it was .184 after April — and despite regular time off, started only 80 games, none after Aug. 1.

Buxton has spent the winter devoting himself to daily sessions of rehab and training, after the pain in his right knee was corrected by arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 13. At 8 a.m. each morning, he said, he begins two hours of therapy on his legs, followed by two hours on a baseball field — hitting, running, catching fly balls.

The result? "Rehab feels money," he said. "Rehab feels money."

In other words, he said, he's hitting with the power that his sore legs sapped from him last year.

"It's different, I can feel it. It feels good," Buxton said. "Things feel back to ... as close to normal as it's going to get. You take the positive and run with it."

Buxton declined to predict how many games he will spend in center field — "My body will tell me that," he said — but said just the thought of roaming the outfield again is having positive mental effects.

"Nothing makes me happier than playing the outfield," he said. "I mean, I [was] 29, I'm DHing, and I know I'm not supposed to be DHing" at that age.

Gladden dials back

Dick Bremer, who received the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award from the Twins and the Baseball Writers Association of America on Thursday, isn't the only longtime broadcaster who will be missing from the airwaves at least part of the time during the 2024 season.

Dan Gladden, who has provided color commentary on Twins radio broadcasts for 24 seasons, is scaling back his work schedule, a source familiar with the team's plans confirmed. Gladden, 66, will be in the booth for 100 games this summer, working with new full-time play-by-play man Kris Atteberry.

To fill out their schedule, the Twins have hired former manager Paul Molitor to broadcast at least 36 games, and former Twins closer Glen Perkins to handle several others.

The Twins announced in December that former radio play-by-play man Cory Provus will become the lead announcer on their television broadcasts this season after Bremer, who called games for 40 years, announced he was giving up the role.


Jose Miranda, who underwent surgery on Oct. 4 to remove scar tissue that had built up on the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, is pain-free and has begun taking batting practice. "There are some days it feels good, some days it feels so-so," the third baseman said, but he expects to be fully healthy by the time spring training begins in mid-February.

Alex Kirilloff also has begun hitting again after shoulder surgery in late October. "I'm excited. There's some room to kind of polish things up and be ready for live at-bats in February," the first baseman said. "Hopefully I'll be ready by the time we start playing spring training games."

Carlos Correa, too, feels healthy again after battling plantar fasciitis in his right foot for much of last season. But the shortstop sounded even more excited by the health of another teammate. "We've got [Chris] Paddack in the rotation now. He looked fantastic in the postseason," Correa said of the righthander, who missed most of the 2023 season after Tommy John elbow surgery. "I've never seen anyone work harder than Paddack. I'm expecting a big comeback year for him. I'm calling it — Comeback Player of the Year, right there."