Buxton's season ends at Triple-A as he awaits Molitor's call
HOUSTON — Twins manager Paul Molitor hadn't spoken to Byron Buxton as of midday Monday, Sept. 3, but still planned to call him at some point.
"I'm going to have a nice conversation with him and share my perspective," Molitor said Sunday in Arlington, Texas. "We'll try to get to where the understanding and the respect remains. I don't think it's going to be a problem between Byron and (me)."
Buxton, who last played on Aug. 31 and will not be recalled by the Twins, missed a third straight game for Triple-A Rochester as the Red Wings finished their season on Monday. Buxton, sent home from the ballpark on Sunday, was not on site Monday at Frontier Field.
There was initially some confusion over whether Buxton had left the park without permission on Sunday, but that was later remedied and no discipline was meted out, according to a person with direct knowledge.
In 35 games at Triple-A this season, starting on June 19, Buxton finished with a .272 batting average, .331 on-base percentage and .456 slugging percentage. He also hit four home runs but struck out 42 times in 136 at-bats, a rate of 29 percent.
His career strikeout rate in the majors is 31.7 percent in 1,074 plate appearances.
"I know there are a lot of questions surrounding this entire issue," Molitor said. "Sometimes I think time is a really good ally for everybody involved. Ultimately it's still going to be about him and his career and his performance and his health, all those things moving forward."
Ryan Pressly gave up a home run to the first batter he faced after being traded — Rougned Odor of the Texas Rangers — but since that July 28 debut for the Houston Astros the former Twins setup man has been outstanding.
Entering Monday's series opener against his former club, Pressly had yet to walk a batter in 15 outings while piling up 19 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings. Working anywhere from the sixth to the eighth innings, he had given up a pair of doubles and hit a batter.
"He's throwing well," Molitor said. "I know every time I see his pitching line, it seems to be that he's pitching effectively. He's just been a part of the mix as far as I can tell."
The 29-year-old Pressly, making $1.6 million this year and under club control via arbitration in 2019, walked 19 in 47 2/3 innings with the Twins this year and had a career walk rate of 2.9 per nine innings from 2013-18.
"We sent a lot of players in a lot of directions," Molitor said. "We're seeing another one here. I'm sure he's been pleased coming back here to Texas. Having a chance to be part of this has got to be special for him."
Asked how many knuckleballs he threw in Sunday's 29-pitch inning, Chris Gimenez shook his head sadly.
"I didn't throw any," the 35-year-old utility catcher said. "I was going to, but then I got out there and I got scared. I know I let a lot of people down. I didn't want to hit anybody and get thrown out."
That comment was aimed at plate umpire Alan Porter, who tossed Matt Belisle for hitting Adrian Beltre and later ran Addison Reed as well.
Gimenez, who gave up two homers in his five-run inning and later hit a two-run homer of his own, noted that his career ERA took a hit. It jumped from 9.90 to 13.09 with his 11th career mound appearance, seven of them for the Twins.
"I saw 56 (mph) on the board one time, and I was like, 'Holy Cow!' " Gimenez said. "The slower the better. They were sitting on 66."
What about the knuckler that Twins bullpen coach Eddie Guardado taught him late last season?
"I promise you the next time I pitch I'm busting it out," Gimenez said.
Rookie right-hander Kohl Stewart, a two-sport star in high school at Houston's St. Pius X, will make his homecoming appearance in front of family and friends on Tuesday night against Astros ace Justin Verlander.
The Twins will use an Opener for the second time ever but it probably won't be lefty Gabriel Moya, who gave up a two-run homer in the first inning on Sunday. Molitor planned to announce Tuesday's plan after Monday's game, suggesting it would be a right-hander against a righty-heavy Astros order.
"We have a few guys we know that can be in that mix," Molitor said.
Stewart had two chances to work in a primary role at Triple-A Rochester, both on the road at Indianapolis (July 25) and Pawtucket (Aug. 4). He posted a 5.06 ERA in 10 2/3 combined innings, allowing 15 hits and four walks while fanning five.
- Right-handers Chase De Jong and John Curtiss will be recalled on Tuesday, and infielder Gregorio Petit will have his contract selected with Logan Morrison being moved to the 60-day disabled list. De Jong, who came over from the Seattle Mariners in the Zach Duke trade, posted a 3.41 ERA in six outings (four starts) for Rochester.
- Belisle plans to appeal if he is fined by Major League Baseball for Sunday's ejection. He figures having Beltre already exonerate him should help his case.