Last Wednesday, two days after spraining his left foot, Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton confidently declared he would be ready for Opening Day.
“I’m playing,” he said. “I ain’t worried about that. I’ll be there. I’ll be there.”
The speedy outfielder took a step toward that goal on Monday, July 20, as the Twins put him through a workout that manager Rocco Baldelli said he walked away from with a “smile on his face.”
“Byron was able to get out there, be on his feet a little bit more. I checked in with him after his workout. He was able to run,” Baldelli said. “I wouldn’t say he was out there at full speed or truly sprinting but definitely getting a feel for being back out there and starting to move side-to-side, back-to-back.”
Baldelli said Buxton has been taking some swings and the Twins plan on getting him on the field Tuesday to face some live pitching. The Twins will have a light workout Tuesday and then travel to Chicago ahead of a Wednesday night exhibition game against the Cubs. The Twins’ opener will be on Friday night against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I think he’s definitely doing a lot better and gaining a lot of confidence, which I think is probably the most important thing as he ramps back up to full speed,” Baldelli said. “…Overall, it was a productive day.”
Maeda tunes up
Starter Kenta Maeda had his final tune-up on Monday in the Twins’ last intrasquad game, throwing right around 85 pitches in five innings against his teammates in his last big outing before the season begins.
Maeda gave up three runs — including catcher Alex Avila’s home run — and six hits, striking out seven in the outing.
“I wanted to go out and just test my endurance, which was there today,” Maeda said. And I was able to pitch all my pitches in the last outing, so today I worked on several new things, new pitches, so that was a great takeaway.”
Maeda hit new teammate Josh Donaldson with a pitch near the end of his start. Donaldson was fine, but Maeda was fearful for a minute.
“I thought that was the end of the world for me, really,” he said. “I couldn’t have done anything worse.”
FOX Sports North will resume its Twins coverage on Wednesday, broadcasting the Twins’ exhibition game against the Cubs in Chicago. Play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer will work with Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Roy Smalley and Justin Morneau this season. The broadcast crew will call all games from Target Field, even when the team is on the road.
Prior to Opening Day on Friday, FSN will air a one-hour edition of Twins Live, which also will be broadcast from the park for both home and road games.
The only two games FSN will not broadcast will be July 30 against Cleveland and Sept. 12 against Cleveland. Those two games will be televised on FOX National.