CHICAGO — Paul Molitor wanted to make sure Byron Buxton isn’t getting too discouraged by his slow start to the season. He discovered he needn’t have worried.
“He was solid as can be. Unwavering, transparent, knows it’s been tough, [but] not discouraged,” the Twins manager said of his morning chat with Buxton. “I complimented him on his ability to separate the different phases of his game. Some young players have a little more trouble doing that. Maybe it makes him a little bit more determined to find a way.”
Buxton has played a big role in the Twins’ shocking 4-0 start to the season — but only with his defense. At the plate, Buxton went went hitless in his first 10 at-bats, collected his first single on a broken-bat dribbler in the infield, and has gone 0-for-7 since. That’s 1-for-18, and 11 of the outs are strikeouts. But Molitor remains confident.
“I still feel that it’s going to get going here. It’s just going to be an at-bat or two where he feels something,” Molitor said. “There’s no question he’s pressing a little bit here, and we all know how things are magnified early in the year. The reality is, a major league at-bat has pressure, I don’t care if you’re first, third, seventh, ninth. You’ve still got to find a way to have good at-bats.”
But just in case that pressure is weighing on the third-year player, who gained a lot of confidence during spring training, Molitor is moving him down in the batting order today. Buxton, who has been in the third spot in all four games so far, will bat seventh today against righthander Miguel Gonzalez.
“We’re all a little bit excited to get him going here at some point,” Molitor said. “Could be today.”
Today is also a big day for Adalberto Mejia, who will make his first career major-league start. Mejia, acquired from the Giants for Eduardo Nunez last July, pitched in one game last season, getting seven outs (and allowing two runs) in relief of Hector Santiago last August 20 in Kansas City.
Here are the lineups for today’s 1:10 p.m. game, as the Twins try to start 5-0 for the first time since 1968:
A. Garcia RF