Twins put Buxton on injured list with inflammation in troublesome knee; antsy Lewis still rehabbing

Updated May. 3, 2024 9:28 p.m. ET

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins put center fielder Byron Buxton on the 10-day injured list Friday because of inflammation in his troublesome right knee, with guarded optimism his latest absence can be kept to the minimum.

Buxton exited early from the game at Chicago on Wednesday after experiencing soreness in the knee that he's had two surgeries on and limited him to a designated hitter role last season. The discomfort caused him to pull up short while trying to steal second base for a third consecutive time, after the first two attempts were thwarted by foul balls.

“This is a long season. He wants to be in a good place, because he is still dealing with some tenderness and some tightness," president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. "You don’t want to be chasing that every couple of days, so we want to try and get ahead of it here.”

Buxton is batting .250 with eight doubles, one triple, one home run, 12 runs and 11 RBIs in 28 games this season. The Twins recalled multi-position player Austin Martin from Triple-A St. Paul to take his roster spot. Willi Castro was in center field Friday in the series opener against Boston.


Buxton has played more than 92 games only once in 10 years in the major leagues. The 30-year-old played center field in 20 of Minnesota's first 30 games and was the DH in four others, with four other appearances as a sub.

The move was made retroactive to Thursday. Both Falvey and manager Rocco Baldelli said Friday they believe Buxton is on a realistic track to be ready to return when he's eligible May 12, or at least a few days after that. An MRI test on his knee revealed no structural damage.

“He cares so much. In his mind, he does not want to let anybody down, and he wants to just say he’s fine," Baldelli said. "His initial reaction is always to say, ‘I’m good.’ When he can’t say, ‘I’m good,’ it hurts him and we reached that point in the last game where he can’t say it.”

Meanwhile, third baseman Royce Lewis has been “tracking in a pretty good direction,” Falvey said. Lewis, who tore his right quadriceps while running the bases during his second at-bat in the season opener, has resumed swinging in the batting cage, running up to 70% speed and some other light work on the field.

Lewis had a recent checkup that confirmed he's on schedule, but that was hardly comforting to the 24-year-old whose major league career has been limited to 71 games because of two ACL tears and subsequent knee reconstructions.

“Any time I see a doctor, I feel like it’s negative now. I think they say it went just how they expected, but for me, I took it like, ‘I can’t play. It’s bad.’ You know what I mean?” said Lewis, the first overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft. "Unless I can say I can play, it’s all bad news. So that’s where I’m at.”

Lewis said this rehab has been more challenging, mentally at least, than his ACL recoveries.

“The hardest thing is not having a timeline,” Lewis said, adding: "I trust my body to be doing its thing. I heal very fast. If I feel this good, obviously, I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like in another two weeks or whatever, however long. Hopefully, it’s shorter.”

Noting that the muscle is still in the process of reattaching, Lewis said he understands why the Twins are taking a deliberate approach with his rehab.

“I just miss the game. I would do anything to go play every day, just like I was when I was a little kid,” Lewis said.

The Twins also had an injury pop up to a key reliever, right-hander Brock Stewart, when he was placed on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder tendinitis on Friday. Left-hander Kody Funderburk was recalled from St. Paul to fill in. Earlier in the day, right-hander Jorge Alcala was brought up for the bullpen and right-hander Caleb Boushley was sent down without appearing in a game.