AL Central Notes: Buxton, Jones, Guardians, Tigers

After undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late September, Byron Buxton told reporters (including Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune) that he has now been cleared to run.  The Twins outfielder won’t be entirely sure of his status until he starts running and can properly test his knee strength, but “I’m on a good plan to be prepared for Spring Training.  For me it’s all about following and sticking to that plan, not trying to overdo it.”

The recovery process seems to be on pace with the 6-8 week timeline initially projected for the surgery in September.  While the arthroscopic procedure was relatively minor, it marks yet another injury in Buxton’s lengthy health history.  Knee and hip problems limited Buxton to 92 games in 2022, yet that still matched the second-highest games total of Buxton’s eight Major League seasons.  His first-half performance (before the injuries really started to impact his play) still netted Buxton his first All-Star nod, and he hit .224/.306/.526 with 28 homers over his 382 plate appearances.  It remains to be seen if Buxton can ever stay healthy enough to fully contribute over an entire season, but even a reduced version is still an important part of Minnesota’s plans to return to contention.

More from around the AL Central…

  • The Guardians dealt Nolan Jones to the Rockies earlier this week, ending the Cleveland tenure of a player who once considered the Guards’ top prospect.  Jones was a top-100 staple as recently as 2021, but might’ve been the victim of a position crunch, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.  Jones’ original position of third base was already locked up at the MLB level by Jose Ramirez, and the Guardians moved Jones to the outfield in the minors, he suddenly found himself in competition with a new surge of young outfielders coming up through the pipeline.  An increasing strikeout rate was also a problem for Jones, as one scout told Hoynes that Jones’ swing-and-miss problems were somewhat reminiscent of Bradley Zimmer — a rather ominous comp, given Zimmer’s inability to produce much offense at the Major League level.
  • New president of baseball operations Scott Harris has been tasked with both improving the Tigers’ win-loss record and improving the organization as a whole, with a particular focus on improving how the Tigers find and develop young talent in the domestic draft and in the international signing market.  The Detroit News’ Lynn Henning outlines some of the criticisms directed at the Tigers front office under former GM Al Avila, and what Harris, new assistant GM Rob Metzler and new amateur scouting director Mark Conner bring to the table in upgrading the farm system.

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