Sam Fuld is the newest member of the Minnesota Twins, and he joins his new club on the same day Minnesota is facing one of his old clubs.
Fuld was claimed by the Twins on Sunday after the Oakland Athletics placed him on waivers. Minnesota made room for him on the roster by designating outfielder Darin Mastroianni for assignment. Mastroianni was claimed Tuesday by Toronto, the same team that drafted him in 2007.
In his first full game with Minnesota, the 32-year-old Fuld was not in the lineup as the Twins faced the Tampa Bay Rays — a team that knows Fuld well. Though he began his career with the Chicago Cubs, it was during his time in Tampa Bay that Fuld emerged as somewhat of a heroic figure — albeit for a brief period.
Thanks to his hot start in April of 2011, his first year with the Rays, he even was the subject of a hashtag on Twitter: #LegendOfSamFuld. He batted .366 and stole nine bases in the first three weeks of April that year and just missed hitting for the cycle in a game against Boston; he needed a single in his last at-bat but wound up with a double. His defense in left field also helped make him a quick fan favorite in Tampa Bay.
That legendary status eventually wore off, however. Fuld finished the 2011 season batting just .240, but he still wound up with 49 stolen bases. He played in just 44 games in 2012 and hit .255 during that stretch. Despite playing in a career-high 119 games in 2013, Fuld hit a mere .199 and had just 10 stolen base attempts (he swiped eight successfully).
As a free agent this past winter, Fuld signed with the Oakland Athletics, hoping to regain the magic that he briefly had in 2011. His time in Oakland was short, however — just seven games, to be exact. He had six hits (two triples) in 30 at-bats with the A’s before the placed him on waivers.
Minnesota continued to tinker with its outfield situation when it claimed Fuld on Sunday. Mastroianni began the season at Triple-A Rochester but was called up as the team’s fourth outfielder when Oswaldo Arcia landed on the disabled list. Another potential option for that fourth outfield spot, Alex Presley, was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros prior to the start of the regular season.
Now Fuld joins his third big-league club. It remains to be seen how often Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will use him, but it’s clear that Minnesota believes Fuld still has something left in the tank.
Fuld played in all three games of Oakland’s three-game series at Target Field earlier this month. While he was a combined 0-for-9 in the first two games, he went 2-for-5 with a home run in Oakland’s 6-1 win. If and when Fuld plays for the Twins during their three-game series at Tropicana Field, it will be his first time ever facing Tampa Bay.
Injured Buxton closer to returning: Twins minor leaguer Byron Buxton, the consensus top prospect in baseball, has yet to play a minor league game this season due to a wrist injury that occurred in late March. But Antony told reporters Tuesday that Buxton could be returning to action soon.
Buxton was slated to begin the year at Double-A New Britain after splitting the 2013 season between Low-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft hit a combined .334 last year with 77 RBI and 55 stolen bases. Buxton appears destined to debut in the majors some time during the 2015 season, although his delayed start to the 2014 season could set back his debut date a bit.