CHICAGO — Byron Buxton felt something in his left shoulder during his third at-bat while rehabbing with Class A Cedar Rapids on Monday. When it flared up again on Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins halted his minor league rehabilitation stint and brought him to Chicago, where they are facing the White Sox this week.
“It went well to the end of batting practice, took one swing towards the end of batting practice that he felt some discomfort there,” said Rocco Baldelli. “That’s not [season] ending or anything like that, for sure.”
Buxton originally injured his shoulder on Aug. 1 in Miami. He had an MRI Tuesday morning that did not reveal any more structural damage, and will be re-evaluated in Chicago.
“When he sustained the injury, [and] when he had his rehab and we sent him out, there was a plan that was written in pencil,” said general manager Thad Levine. “It was never written in pen because we knew there was going to need to be adjustments made. I think we’re still optimistic that he’s still going to help this team at some point before the season’s end.
“I don’t think anyone is disappointed about a specific date. We’re disappointed for him because we know how much it means for him to be a contributing member of this team.”
The Twins are 57-25 in games he played in this year. They are 22-26 without him.
While the Cleveland Indians were swept by the New York Mets last week, lost Sunday in extra-innings to the Kansas City Royals to fall 3.5 games back and lost Jose Ramirez to injuries, Minnesota could use all the help they can get right now to ensure that they win the AL Central and get favorable playoff positioning.
Eddie Rosario’s return from his hamstring injury is a positive development. He’s hitting .282/.307/.515 with 27 home runs and provides positive energy in the locker room.
“We had him out there earlier, he was doing some running. He was doing some active warm up stuff,” said Baldelli. “He looked good. He didn’t look like he was favoring it at all.”
A major boost will come from reinforcements in the bullpen, however. MLB rosters expand to 40 players on Sept. 1 and the Double-A and Triple-A seasons end on Sept. 2, so all the pitchers who have been on the “Triple-A Shuttle” — Zack Littell, Cody Stashak, Kohl Stewart and the like — should arrive en masse on Sept. 3.
Well, almost all of them.
Even though the minor league season is over Sept. 2, the 10-day rule applies, meaning that a player has to go down for 10 days before being recalled. In Lewis Thorpe’s case, for example, he was optioned on Aug. 25 and cannot join the Twins until Sept. 4.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time on it. I would say it would be a fairly extensive list of names,” said Baldelli. “I don’t think in September, when you’re playing meaningful games, they should be shorthanded.”
In addition to young pitchers like Stashak and Stewart, rehabbing players like Trevor Hildenberger and Stephen Gonsalves could provide reinforcement, as well as Brusdar Graterol and Jorge Alcala. Hildenberger pitched well in the beginning of the season before succumbing to injury, and Gonsalves, Graterol and Alcala are prospects who could use major league seasoning.
But none of this will fully cover for Buxton’s setback, should it be serious. He’s driven winning when healthy, and sorely missed when he’s been injured.