Byron Buxton was working hard to eclipse 100 games in a season for only the second time in his eight-year MLB career. It won't happen.
The Twins center fielder will end 2022 with 92 games played, as he is set to have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday that will end his injury-riddled campaign.
"This guy, he's been battling through challenges over the course of a lot of his career, certainly, but that didn't stop this year, and it started really early on," President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said Friday. "... I feel like we saw exactly what we thought Byron could be on the field at different junctures during the course of the season. We planned to try and get him through. ... But it was unfortunate that we weren't able to keep him out there more than we did."
Buxton dealt with patellar tendinitis in his right knee since spring training, though it first became public in an early series in Boston when he slid into second base with visible pain. He managed the injury the rest of the summer, with the team devising a plan of strategic days off every week or so to help him recover. The hope was to target at least 100 games, a marker Buxton only once has managed to reach (140 in 2017).
The Georgia native — who signed a seven-year, $100 million extension this past offseason — played his final game of 2022 on Aug. 22. A right hip strain, thought to be a compensation injury related to his knee pain, put him on the injured list for the first time that season. And with the Twins well out of playoff contention at 73-77 with 12 games to play, including Friday's matchup against the Angels, the Twins decided surgery was the best option.
Buxton ends his season with a team-high 28 home runs and 51 RBI in 340 at-bats. His at-bat total is the second-highest of his career, trailing only the 462 he had in 2017. Buxton's batting average slid to .224 this summer, his lowest year-end number since 2018.
The Twins first considered an operation about halfway through the season. But with the team still in the postseason mix, they instead tried a platelet-rich plasma injection after Buxton made his first All-Star Game appearance in late July.
His knee surgery will be noninvasive and focus on cleaning up scar tissue and any fraying of the ligaments. That should quell the inflammation that has been persistent this season. Recovery time is about a month, so Buxton should have a mostly normal offseason and be ready when spring training begins in late February/early March.
Buxton has a long history of injuries, including breaking his hand in 2021, labrum surgery in 2019, a broken toe in 2018, migraines in 2017, back spasms in 2016 and a sprained thumb in 2015.