When Byron Buxton left Saturday's game against the Angels because of leg soreness, a collective "here we go again" came from a Twins fan base that feared the speedy center fielder, who has been limited to designated hitter duty this season in a precautionary move, would be unavailable for an extended period.
Monday, however, the Twins got good news. Buxton would be back in the lineup at DH and hitting third in the opener of a series against the San Francisco Giants at Target Field.
"Buck's doing pretty well,'' Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Buxton, who was held out of Sunday's series finale in Anaheim, Calif., because of the issue with his right leg. "… The responsible thing to do this weekend was to actually take him out of that game and not have him in yesterday. We don't want to ever put ourselves in a position where we're set back because of stubbornness or anything like that.''
Buxton went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Monday's 4-1 loss. He left three runners in scoring position with two outs.
Buxton, a 2017 Gold Glove winner for his work in center field, was held to 92 games or fewer in each season from 2018 to 2022. This year, Buxton has served as DH, appearing in 43 of the team's 48 games.
"He's been in the lineup almost every day this year,'' Baldelli said. "He's been productive. He's been running well. Actually, this week, before we had to take him out of the game, he's probably run more in that past week than any time I've seen him really in a significant period of time.''
At 29, Buxton has adopted a more mature approach to staying in games by listening to his body.
"It's about being with my teammates and being in that leadership role,'' Buxton said. "For me to come out for that tightness is more of what I'm trying to accomplish. Most of the time, I would have tried to push myself through that, which would have prevented me from getting back.''
Buxton is hitting .231 with nine home runs, 21 RBI and four stolen bases, and his manager appreciated his buy-in to the approach of staying on the field.
"I've been happy with what he's been doing, and I was actually especially happy that he was honest with us and didn't push himself to the point where we're having different conversations,'' Baldelli said.
Added Buxton: "It's something that I'm figuring out. One day [out of the lineup] is better than 10. It's all about trying to limit going on the [injured list].''
Rogers right at home again
Giants reliever Taylor Rogers was back in familiar territory Monday: Target Field, where he played from 2016 through 2021 before the Twins traded him to San Diego on Opening Day of 2022.
"Came in the same door. Same people let me in,'' Rogers joked about his arrival to the ballpark. "So, it's a good start.''
The lefthander appeared in 319 games in his Twins career, notching 50 saves, 77 holds and posting a 3.15 ERA. He made the AL All-Star team in 2021 before being shipped in the deal that sent Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagán to Minnesota.
Rogers was traded from the Padres to the Brewers on Aug. 1, 2022, then signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the Giants this offseason.
"It was wild,'' he said of being traded twice in less than four months. "I was paying rent in three cities.''
Rogers has a 1-2 record, 5.14 ERA and one save in 14 innings pitched for the Giants. In San Francisco, he's been reunited with his twin brother, Tyler, a righthander.
"It's just fun to have my best friend around,'' Taylor said.
Mahle has surgery
Twins righthander Tyler Mahle had successful Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, performed by Dr. Keith Meister in Dallas.
The 28-year-old, who made only nine starts with the Twins after being traded from Cincinnati last summer, will become a free agent after the season.