ST. LOUIS – The packages caught up to Logan Morrison on this road trip. His so-dark-blue-they-look-black shoes are going in a box somewhere, and his not-blue-at-all black shoes will be on his feet from now on.
“They can crack down all they want,” Morrison said of Major League Baseball’s uniform monitors. “But get fined for this? No thank you.”
The Twins, like the other 29 MLB teams, received a warning memo from the commissioner’s office in late April, reminding players of the rules about footwear, and warning them they might begin fining violators after May 1. The rules, as collectively bargained by the players and owners, state that “at least 51 percent of the exterior of each player’s shoes must be the club’s designated primary shoe color,” and that color must be “evenly distributed” on the shoe.
The problem for several Twins players is that the team’s “designated primary shoe color” is black, not the navy blue that adorns the uniforms and caps. The color was selected decades ago, before baseball spikes were available in such a variety of colors, and has never been updated. Several players, Brian Dozier among them, wear shoes with navy blue and red trim on them to match the uniforms — but now risk being fined.
“These match. Black doesn’t. You can’t tell me that black would look better,” Dozier said. “I just think they’re really trying to eliminate some of the crazier colors. I don’t know why.”
Still, the Twins put in a rush order for a few dozen pairs of black shoes with the various manufacturers, just in case a crackdown comes.
“Times change and rules become outdated. But whatever, man. It’s not worth having anyone taking my money over it,” Morrison said, displaying his new shoes. “I’ll just express myself through arm sleeves and batting gloves, I guess.”
Buxton’s test drive
Twins manager Paul Molitor sat with Byron Buxton at his locker for about five minutes Tuesday morning, getting a firsthand account of how Buxton’s fractured left big toe feels. Buxton ran about four laps around the Busch Stadium bases a half-hour earlier, simulating rounding the bases on hits and extra-base hits, and pushing off to go base to base.
The final decision has yet to be made, but “there’s some momentum” toward activating Buxton as soon as Thursday in Anaheim, Molitor said. “We’ll have to collect everyone’s thoughts, back in Minneapolis and here with staff and trainers, and see what we want to do over the next 48 hours.”
Buxton made it clear what his thoughts are.
“I’m pretty excited,” the center fielder said about returning to the Twins’ lineup, which has been without him since April 12. “I’ve been out long enough.”
That would mean not going on a rehab assignment to the minor leagues, something Buxton said he’s willing to do, but he would prefer not to go. Molitor sounds as if he’s willing, presuming Buxton meets a couple of criteria.
“Physically, we want him to be at a level where he’s ready to play every day,” the manager said. “Then we’ll make a determination about how his offensive game is going to go without having played for about three weeks or so.”
Battle of the phenoms
The Angels plan to keep Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani on his once-a-week pitching schedule, and informed the Twins he will start Sunday’s game in Anaheim. That sets up an intriguing matchup of rookie phenoms: Ohtani will face Fernando Romero, who has yet to allow a run in winning the first two starts of his major league career. Ohtani also figures to serve as the Angels’ designated hitter Thursday or Friday.