CHICAGO — As Byron Buxton walked through the hallway past his manager’s office, he got a pat on his back from bench coach Derek Shelton. Upon arriving at his locker stall, Jake Cave yelled out his name and gave him a hug.
Minutes later Rocco Baldelli glowed when he was asked about Buxton’s presence, even though he was returning to the team because he felt something was wrong with his injured left shoulder while rehabilitating in Class A.
“He’s a guy that when he walks in the clubhouse, I think everyone out there is happy to see him,” said Baldelli. “Obviously we love it when he’s in the lineup and he’s playing…but he’s also really important off the field.”
Officially, Buxton is in Chicago with the Minnesota Twins in order to reevaluate his shoulder, which was subluxated after he crashed into the wall in Miami on Aug. 1. But he’s also bringing his southern charm and a sense of normalcy for a team that has slugged their way through a crazy season.
“He’s a great presence out there for us,” said Baldelli. “It made sense for him to join us instead of just going back to Minnesota. It’s probably good for all of us and good for him.”
Buxton maintained his smile even as he described the setback that kept him from continuing his rehab assignment in Cedar Rapids. The Twins say he felt something in his shoulder during his third at-bat in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, a strikeout. It surfaced again during batting practice on Monday. He said he mostly felt it during BP.
“It’s just something you know you don’t feel right when you’re swinging,” he said. “Not that it’s a big problem, but it kinda affects me when I’m trying to do certain things. Don’t want to kinda be limited to what I’m doing, so I communicated it, and the best decision was to try to take a step back and take a couple days and come up here.”
The only time there was a hint of a grimace on his face was when he was asked if this process was testing his patience.
“It’s frustrating,” he confirmed. “But I wanted to come up here and be with these guys, kind of take my mind off of it a little bit.”
Minnesota would like to have him back too. They’re 57-25 with him; 23-26 when he’s been out. But for now, while his shoulder is healing, they’re just happy he’s back.