OAKLAND, CA. – Byron Buxton played his 24th game of the season on Monday, precisely the same number as Carlos Correa played. Those numbers likely won’t remain as comparable once Correa comes off the injured list later this week.
But, the shortstop insisted on Monday, that’s no reason to criticize the center back.
“They probably don’t know the game of baseball,” Correa said of criticism of the Twins’ plans to schedule regular days off for Buxton in hopes of keeping him, and in particular his chronically sore right knee, safe. good health all season. Correa said people making derogatory comments “about our best player, probably one of the best players in the game, then you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Buxton and Correa made their major league debuts six days apart in 2015, but Correa has played 776 games since then, plus 79 in the playoffs, while Buxton has played in 520 combined.
“He wants to be out there every day. When he’s on the field, he’s played at the highest level. He’s already got 11 home runs,” Correa said. “When you look at Byron and his knees, so early in the year, that’s something you have to be careful about. And you have to take the necessary precautions to keep him on the pitch. Rather have him for 120 [games] a full season than to have him for 50 because he’s trying to do too much.”
This philosophy also informs Correa’s recovery after being hit by a right-hand middle finger throw. Once he learned the bone wasn’t broken, he believed it would come back in a day or two, but backed down once he realized the pain wasn’t easily ignored. . It’s not completely gone yet either, although he thinks it will only be a day or two.
“I hit with a tampon on my finger [which] makes it painless. And throwing is still a little uncomfortable – I would say a lot when I’m trying to throw hard. It’s tough trying to get the backhand to the first goal,” he said. “But I would say we are quite close. I hope to play this series at some point.”
Correa took batting practice early on Monday and hit a few commanding home runs, then stood in the batter’s box as Devin Smeltzer kicked off his bullpen session, to get a glimpse of the pitch live. He also took ground balls and said he was unhappy with his ability to throw the ball from deep in the hole to shortstop.
“The last thing on his mind is really letting go, letting go, letting go,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “But even that is in pretty good shape right now. … We could see it here this series.”
And Buxton? The Twins have the day off Thursday, and Baldelli, who on Sunday discussed the Twins’ goals of getting him to 100-plus games for only the second time in his career, did not reveal whether his first hitter would get a bye. additional. .
Correa said he discussed the merits of protecting his health with his teammate.
“If your knee bothers you at the start of the year, you can’t get away with it. It’s not that bad where he has to go in IL, but playing every day, every game for 10 days in a row, it could get to that point,” Corréa said. “So I’d rather he miss a game every series than stay in IL for a long time. It’s just a smart thing to do.”
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