CHICAGO – Byron Buxton’s two solo home runs Thursday in the Twins’ 4-3 loss to the White Sox gave him seven over his past nine games. The center fielder has 12 home runs on the season in just 114 plate appearances.
It’s time to play with numbers. Over 500 plate appearances, that equates to 53 home runs.
Byron Buxton, power hitter.
“No. Not necessarily,” Buxton said. “A little bit more of knowing what pitchers are going to do to me a little bit more, experience, I guess. And just going in having a clear mind and being ready to hit.
“Kind of one of those things like Rocco [Baldelli] put in us last year. Don’t be afraid to go up there and make an out. Don’t give up a fastball down the middle or a get-me-over pitch. Go up there ready to hit, and the last week or so it has been really good.”
Buxton then was given the mind-bending question of the morning. Which will come first in a full season: 30 steals or 30 homers?
“Definitely have to say stealing 30 bases before the homers,” Buxton said.
Buxton has only one stolen base this season. He said he’s been studying video of top base stealers to look for techniques he can apply.
“I don’t feel like I’ve been on first base too much this year,” said Buxton, whose .561 slugging percentage would be the highest of his career. “It’s kind of one of those things where I’ve been aggressive a little bit more, trying to push the issue to get a run across to get something started.”
What his power surge shows is that the Twins and Buxton need to stop at nothing to keep him healthy and on the field so his learning process can remain fluid.
Maeda struggles late
Kenta Maeda needed just 37 pitches the first time through the White Sox order. The Twins starter was getting swings and misses, and it looked like a normal outing for one of the better pitchers in the league.
But Maeda struggled the second time through the order, giving up home runs to Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion and needing 49 pitches in the fourth inning alone.
“I was able to get into a rhythm early, but that’s very typical recently,” Maeda said. “Quality-wise, it wasn’t in the best condition and I didn’t have the best command but I was able to get into a rhythm earlier.”
Catcher Mitch Garver needed a couple of days to get over getting hit below the belt with a foul ball while catching at the Twins camp in St. Paul. He’s better and back on track to return to the club in the near future.
It doesn’t seem likely that Garver, who has recovered from an intercostal strain, would be brought into town to play in the three games against the Cubs. It’s more likely he will be activated in time for the final homestand of the regular season, which begins Tuesday against Detroit.
Littell removed from 40-man
Righthander Zack Littell has been outrighted off the Twins’ 40-man roster. He cleared waivers and was reassigned to St. Paul. The Twins now have one open spot on their 40-man roster, which could go to righthander Homer Bailey. Bailey was moved to the 45-day injured list about a month ago because of biceps tendinitis, but he’s close to a return.