BOSTON — Though things appeared concerning for Byron Buxton in the moment, there’s reason to believe his right knee injury from Friday’s game might not keep him off the field for too long.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Saturday that an MRI of Buxton’s sore right knee did not reveal any structural damage, and the Twins did not immediately make any roster moves in what could be construed as an encouraging sign for Buxton’s possible timeline.
“Obviously, if we found something from the testing we had done, we would make a roster move if that was appropriate,” Baldelli said. “But we didn’t think it was appropriate yet. … It might be a day-to-day thing right now, roster move-wise, and just what we’re going to do and what we learn more about Buck.”
Buxton was removed during the first inning of Friday’s 8-4 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park after pulling up in evident pain following a slide into second base on a popup double to left field. He immediately slapped the ground in apparent frustration and walked off the field, even before the medical staff had a chance to check in with him.
It’s still not clear what particular element of the play caused the injury, Baldelli said. Buxton was not immediately available for comment.
“It was mainly just him letting out some emotion, just walking off the field, because he knew he wasn’t going to be able to continue to stay in that game,” Baldelli said. “All he wants is to play. That’s all he wants.”
Baldelli couldn’t yet commit to Buxton avoiding the IL altogether, and the center fielder will continue to be examined over the next several days by a team doctor in Boston. The expectation for now is that Buxton will continue on this road trip with the Twins.
The Twins feel for now that they have enough position player depth to cover them while Buxton is down without putting him on the IL. Nick Gordon replaced Buxton in center field during Friday’s game and started at the position on Saturday. Baldelli has suggested that his preference is for Max Kepler to stay in right field, particularly in the tricky environment of Fenway Park.
Gilberto Celestino is also available as a right-handed complement to Gordon for now, and considering the full 40-man roster, those two might end up as the stopgap options in center until Buxton recovers — which could be sooner than initially feared.
“Genuinely, he’s out there for all of the best reasons and the right reasons, and for that reason, everyone here cares about him and wants to make sure he’s all right and in a good place,” Baldelli said. “It’s a frustrating moment, so I understand all of what he’s going through.”