With games postponed, Byron Buxton's return to Twins on hold

Megan Ryan, Star Tribune
·2 min read

ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Saturday's postponed Twins game — and Sunday's for that matter — also delayed the return of one of the hottest hitters in baseball.

Byron Buxton was set to make his injury comeback until two more positive COVID-19 cases emerged on the Twins, forcing the rest of the series with the Los Angeles Angels to be shuttered.

Buxton hadn't played since Tuesday, dealing with a minor right hamstring strain. He went through a full workout during batting practice Friday, and manager Rocco Baldelli said he was pleased with how Buxton came out of that.

"He was out there on the field and moving around pretty well, and at a point where we don't think we're going to go backwards," Baldelli said after Friday's game. "… He's going to be out there. He's going to be in center field. He's going to be hitting fourth for us. … We think he's at a point right now where he can go out there and handle that."

Buxton is hitting .469 with eight runs, five doubles, five home runs, nine RBI and a 1.622 OPS through his nine games this season. He entered Saturday tied for second in the American League for home runs and fourth in doubles.

Astudillo in reliefWillians Astudillo, the Twins' resident Renaissance man, turned to the pitcher's mound Friday.

The sometimes-outfielder, sometimes-infielder, sometimes-catcher threw a seven-pitch eighth inning and prevented any further damage in the Twins' 10-3 loss that had already forced them to employ starter Lewis Thorpe and relievers Randy Dobnak, Caleb Thielbar and Jorge Alcala. The latter three all appeared in a marathon seventh inning.

"He and JT [Riddle], I actually asked them both, and you couldn't really get in Willians' way on this," Baldelli said. "He was basically volunteering himself to go out there and pitch. I'm not surprised that he can throw 45 mph strikes and zip them in there when he wants a 75 mph fastball. He does it all."

But not without help, apparently. Nelson Cruz said he had something to do with La Tortuga's clean, quick outing.

"I kind of was his pitching coach," Cruz said. "I told him throw as slow as you can. Definitely, he did really good. He's just a ballplayer. He can do things nicely and perform."