MILWAUKEE – The Twins believe their depth will separate them from their AL Central rivals. They just wish they didn’t have to prove it quite so quickly.
Center fielder Byron Buxton was removed from Sunday’s 8-2 victory over the Brewers in the third inning, raising alarms that another key member of the lineup was sidelined only three days after third baseman Josh Donaldson suffered a hamstring injury that landed him on the injured list. But Buxton was not injured, just sick, the Twins announced to great relief among their fans, and he is expected to be fine in a day or two.
“He wasn’t feeling so hot during the game, and we kind of had to make a call on the spot, early in the game,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I didn’t feel comfortable sending him back out on the field before we were able to check him out and get a good look.”
Buxton — who doubled in his only at-bat, giving him a three-game streak with an extra-base hit after he homered in each of the first two games of the series — spent the rest of the game in the trainer’s room, getting fluids and trying to fight off nausea. He was tested to rule out COVID-19, and was negative.
“It looks like a possible bug of some kind,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to continue to monitor him and see how he’s doing tonight and tomorrow.”
Slippery eelAndrelton Simmons is a great fielder, that the Twins knew. Turns out, he’s a great slider, too.
The new Twins shortstop turned in his first “wow” defensive play of the season on Sunday, racing up the middle to flag down Avisail Garcia’s hot smash. Simmons slid as he reached it, gloved the ball, then popped up and threw out Garcia by several feet, turning a likely hit into an easy out.
“He knows how to approach every ball. He’s got these really interesting ways of approaching the ball, of reacting to plays,” Baldelli said. “He doesn’t play shortstop in a very typical, conventional way. He just has a very particular style, from his footwork to his arm stroke, and my God, it is fun to watch.”
But another Simmons slide was even more valuable. He hit a ball that reached the center field wall in the eighth inning, an easy double. But thinking the Brewers would throw home to try to throw out Jake Cave at the plate, Simmons kept going to third base. Instead, the relay to Orlando Arcia beat him by a half-second and umpire C.B. Bucknor called Simmons out.
But the veteran had slid toward the outside of the base and twisted his body to elude Arcia’s tag. The Twins asked the umpires to review the play, and upon doing so, the call was overruled. Simmons then came around to score the Twins’ final run on a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Nelson Cruz.
“We talk about his field awareness, he sees things happening before they’re actually playing out,” Baldelli said. “Pretty nifty move.”
Etc.• Spring training is over, but it’s become clear that Baldelli isn’t ready to give his starting pitchers regular-season workloads. Michael Pineda was lifted after throwing 81 pitches Sunday, one day after Jose Berrios’ no-hit bid ended after six innings and 84 pitches. And Kenta Maeda threw 88 pitches in 4⅓ innings on Thursday. Baldelli said during the spring that the Twins were leery of overusing arms after a nine-week season in 2020.
• Brewers assistant trainer Dave Yeager, who fell to the ground and nearly fainted while treating Bucknor during the ninth inning of Saturday’s game, felt faint again after being helped to the dugout and was taken to a nearby hospital. He spent the night there, but was released Sunday after suffering what the Brewers believe may have been dehydration.
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