Byron Buxton Making Things Look “Easy” in Hot Start for Twins

Healthy and happy, Byron Buxton's smile lit up the postgame clubhouse for the Minnesota Twins on Saturday afternoon.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 30: Byron Buxton #25 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates an RBI double against Garrett Hampson #2 of the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on March 30, 2024 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Healthy and happy, Byron Buxton’s smile lit up the postgame clubhouse for the Minnesota Twins on Saturday afternoon.

Shortly after his pair of doubles helped the Twins post a 5-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals, Minnesota’s second consecutive win over their division rivals to open the season, Buxton beamed about what turned into in-game quickness competition and conversation with the home team’s Bobby Witt Jr.

“When I got to second on the double, he was like, ‘Man, you get here fast,'” Buxton said of his conversation with Witt, who plays shortstop. “I was like, ‘You don’t think you did on your double?’ I was letting him know he’s just as fast. It’s just more about the competition.

“Every chance I get, he’s like me. He likes to run.”

Ad – content continues below

Buxton is indeed running right now, on the bases and in the field. He is healthy entering a season where Twins fans hope he will avoid injuries and top the 100-game-played mark for the first time since 2017.

With Royce Lewis already on the injured list to start the campaign after suffering a quad injury on Opening Day, keeping Buxton on the field is a big plus for Minnesota as it looks to defend its American League Central crown.

“When he’s playing the game, running around the way he is right now, it doesn’t look like that with anybody else,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said on Saturday. “I’ve never seen another player play the game and look visually like him. He looks like … NFL-caliber cornerback speed or one of the fastest guys who shows up at the combine. He’s running around the baseball field and he speeds the game up literally on everyone. It shouldn’t look fast.

“He makes things happen. He’s like faster than the game and that’s what he is doing right now.”

While Buxton has started the year hot against Kansas City pitching, going 3-for-8 with three RBI in his first two games of the campaign, it continues a trend where Buxton has tormented Kansas City in recent times.

Prior to Saturday, in his last 30 games against the Royals, Buxton was hitting .350 (42-for-117) with 14 doubles, seven home runs and 18 RBI.

Ad – content continues below

He has also now reached base in 18 consecutive games at Kauffman Stadium, a place that had plenty of Twins fans voicing their support for the visitors on Saturday.

With the Royals hoping that several offseason moves will change their fortune in the AL Central standings, Buxton remains a constant thorn in the franchise’s side.

Joe Ryan, who started on Saturday and scattered three hits and one run over 5.1 innings, said having Buxton in center field (where he started on Opening Day for the first time since August 22, 2022, a span of 584 days) is a plus for any Twins pitcher.

“I grew up as a runner and around a lot of runners, so just to watch him and how well he can move out there, it’s pretty fun to watch,” Ryan said. “It’s so easy for him. It looks easy, let’s put it that way. He’s so fluid and just floats out there. He’s a pretty special athlete to watch.”

Buxton has always had the athletic talent, but has weathered a litany of injuries during his 10-year MLB career. He also reached base in the fourth inning on Saturday after being hit by a pitch on the arm.

“I got a little bruise,” Buxton said, pointing to his arm and smiling. “It’s not too bad. It’s part of it.”

Ad – content continues below

Buxton avoiding any kind of injury and producing at a high level? Twins fans will take that as part of a 2024 season that is off to a good start for both Buxton and the team.