As Byron Buxton rounded the bases on Saturday night, he wasn't thinking about much. He wasn't thinking about all the time he missed last season or whether the home run meant he was truly "back.""I was just excited to cross the plate and excited to extend our lead," MLB.com's top
As Byron Buxton rounded the bases on Saturday night, he wasn't thinking about much. He wasn't thinking about all the time he missed last season or whether the home run meant he was truly "back."
"I was just excited to cross the plate and excited to extend our lead," MLB.com's top overall prospect said.
With one swing of the bat, Buxton showed that another of his many tools had returned. And with that swing, he launched his first Double-A home run and helped Chattanooga hold off Montgomery, 4-3, at Riverwalk Stadium.
"I was just looking to drive something in the gap, not trying to do too much. Just put a good swing on it and it happened to go out," the Twins top prospect said. "It feels really good [to be back], just glad to be out there playing ball and being able to help my team win."
Buxton was limited to 31 games last season after a series of injuries. But with his family, friends and teammates by his side, the 21-year-old outfielder overcame a sprained wrist, concussion and broken finger.
The Georgia native missed the competition as well as playing with his teammates, so he came to Spring Training with a plan to stay off the disabled list.
"Just play the game smarter and know what to do in certain situations, know when to dive and when not to dive. Just maturing as I get older," he explained.
Buxton is 2-for-14 with a homer, an RBI, two runs scored and a walk in his first three games with the Lookouts. But his manager, Doug Mientkiewicz, knows these things take time.
"Physically, he's OK now. He had a really good Spring Training," the former Major League first baseman said. "I think he's in the right frame of mind, mentally. But at the end of the day, Double-A is difficult, it's a big jump from [Class A Advanced]. We feel as an organization that the most important thing is for him to stay healthy. As long as he stays healthy, things will come.
"I think everyone wants it to happen now, but they don't understand how long it takes to cross the T's and dot the I's."
The second overall pick in the 2012 Draft said he's happy to feel the intensity of playing daily alongside teammates with whom he has great chemistry, like Twins No. 14 prospect Adam Brett Walker II, who also homered Saturday.
Mientkiewicz also said the mere presence of Buxton in the Lookouts' dugout can impact a game, something Buxton learned last season.
"He plays the game the right way, he plays the game the way it's supposed to be played," the manager said of his leadoff hitter. "He wants to win at all costs. He's a throwback in that way."
Buxton's homer helped make a winner of starter Greg Peavey (1-0). The veteran right-hander allowed two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out six over 6 1/3 innings. Nick Burdi recorded his first Double-A save, despite surrendering a run on one hit and two walks with two strikeouts in the ninth.
Biscuits reliever Zach Cooper (0-1) yielded two runs on five hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings.
Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.