MINNEAPOLIS — Facing elimination in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against Houston, the Twins will be without center fielder Byron Buxton. Buxton, the best center fielder in the big leagues and a difference-maker in the Twins lineup when he’s healthy, is “not at 100 percent,” according to manager Rocco Baldelli.
Buxton returned to the lineup in the Twins’ 4-1 loss to the Astros on Tuesday after being hit in the head by a pitch on Friday and experiencing concussion symptoms. Buxton went 1-for-4 with a first-inning single but then struck out three times. Buxton is no stranger to concussions having suffered one when he collided with a teammate in the outfield while playing Double-A and then suffering another one last season while diving head first for a ball in Cleveland.
Baldelli did not provide any specifics on what’s wrong with Buxton.
With Buxton out of the lineup, Max Kepler will move from right field to center and Alex Kirilloff will make his big-league debut in right field after being added to the Twins’ playoff roster on Tuesday morning. Kepler played two games in center field this season after appearing in 60 games at the position in 2019.
Buxton is not fully healthy this morning, which is why he's not in the starting lineup. Rocco couldn't specify anything more, including whether it's related to the end-of-season injury.
"All I'm going to be able to say is that he's not at 100 percent."
— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) September 30, 2020
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) September 30, 2020