MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins added designated hitter Byron Buxton as an injury substitute to their AL Division Series roster prior to Game 4 against Houston on Wednesday, removing first baseman Alex Kirilloff because of worsening shoulder pain.
Major League Baseball rules require Commissioner’s Office approval of mid-series roster changes. Dr. Gary Green, MLB’s medical director, confirmed the injury after communication with a club physician.
Buxton, who has only appeared in more than 92 games in one of his nine major league seasons, has not played since Aug. 1. Persistent knee trouble has limited him to a hitting-only role this season.
The Twins kept the door open all year for him to return to center field, but time ran out in the regular season after Buxton had some setbacks during his rehab work. With Royce Lewis returning to third base in Game 3 after serving as the designated hitter in Minnesota’s first four postseason games, the roster space made sense for Buxton.
Manager Rocco Baldelli declined to speculate about whether Buxton could play the outfield, but he indicated the 2022 All-Star would only be considered for pinch-hitting or pinch-running opportunities.
“He’s in a good enough spot where he can help us,” Baldelli said, “probably in smaller spurts.”
Kirilloff, who is 0 for 9 with two walks and four strikeouts in the postseason, is ineligible for the rest of the series and the next round if the Twins advance. Kirilloff, whose shoulder strain originally kept him out from July 30-Sept. 7, could return for the World Series if the Twins were to make it that far
“A.K. is dealing with the same issue that he’s been dealing with for a long time. It’s just progressively getting worse to the point where he really can’t swing,” Baldelli said. “We got him back to a reasonably good spot. He was never 100 percent or anywhere close to it.”
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