MINNEAPOLIS – Since Byron Buxton's roster with second overall pick in the 2012 draw, the Minnesota Twins have waited patiently for their midfielder to perform a full season on his superstar potential.
Perhaps this will be the year when Buxton brings all that speed, strength and skill together – while staying away from those devastating injuries.
There has never been any doubt about his ability to inspire and entertain.
"Everyone in this room has a purpose in our team, but he has something special. He brings a lot of energy," said starting pitcher José Berríos. "The fastest in our game, of course, in midfield. And if he's healthy, he can. "He's hitting and running. We're seeing it this season so far. I think he's feeling pretty good. That's who Byron is. The man can do this 100%."
Buxton has four home runs in 19 at-bats, one of four players in the majors to hit that many in the first eight days of the season. Roll three doubles, and his way too early-to-be-just-for-fun-slugging percentage is a whopping 1,211. Buxton's run of six consecutive games with an extra basehit is the longest of his career.
The fun started in the opener in Milwaukee when he hit an estimated 456-foot homer against Brewers sidearmer Eric Yardley.
"I went there and had a plan," Buxton said after that game. “I literally said, 'He's throwing me a slider' so I went over there and sat down with the slider. That's where the experience part comes in. I feel confident enough now where it doesn't really matter what You put me before me. I'll be in breaking places. I'm starting to realize how quickly my hands react to fastballs. Once you get there, it's pretty scary. "
He is now 27, but nowhere near his peak.
"Watching him completely change ball games on his own is just something that never gets old," said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.
Buxton hit fourth in the home opener against Seattle on Thursday, only appearing in the cleanup spot the second time in his career.
His trackster speed – on base and in the field – was long enough to make him a fixture in the lineup. Progress on the record is much more elusive. Staying sane was the biggest problem, partly because of his intrepidity in midfield, but when he is healthy, he has also endured several tough cuts with the bat in the major leagues for six years. Only once has he played in more than 92 games.
Now at the heart of a lineup that set the all-time record for home runs two seasons ago, Buxton is starting to show he can do so much more than just those dive catches.
“He finds the barrel, and it's coming out so hot right now,” Baldelli said.
Anchored as always in the weight room during the winter, he padded his upper body to provide more padding as further injury prevention.
Being readily available for Baldelli & # 39; s batting orders this year would be the perfect timing, with fans rejoining the baseball field after the close of COVID-19 in 2020. Buxton is one of those rare talents in baseball who can sell tickets themselves.
"He's not one to look for that kind of attention for himself in any way. He wants to win a baseball game and do it for his teammates. This is the way he approaches things. That's the energy he gives off. , & # 39; & # 39; said Baldelli. & # 39; He works very hard. He fights with his tail every day when he's out there, and I think he's a man who will put everyone around him in the face. clubhouse just appreciates. I think he is as a player and as a person. "