MILWAUKEE — The longest home run of Byron Buxton’s career was struck so well and hit so high that Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain could do nothing but take a few steps back and watch it sail by on Thursday afternoon.
It traveled 456 feet, per Statcast, and as a follow-up act, Buxton took a tough pitch from Corbin Burnes out to right-center in the seventh inning Saturday, breaking up what had been a no-hit bid.
In the season’s early going, Buxton said he’s feeling comfortable and confident — and it’s been clear in the results. Buxton, who was hitting third in the lineup for the second time this season in the Twins’ 8-2 win over Milwaukee on Sunday, doubled in his only at-bat. He was removed with a non-COVID-related illness, and the Twins will continue to monitor him.
“It’s not too much that can get me off track mentally,” Buxton said Saturday. “I’m probably in the best spot I’ve been as a baseball player.”
What got him to that point?
He points primarily to his family: his parents, his wife, and his two young sons, Brixton and Blaze.
“Everybody wants to come out here, everybody wants to win. We want to win. And that’s the way it is, but it’s a lot bigger picture than just me going out there and playing baseball,” Buxton said. “I’ve gotta go home to my family, take care of them and take care of my parents. So, at the end of the day, I’ve got to have a clear mind to teach them the right direction, teach my boys the right direction.”
Brixton is 7 years old, and Blaze is less than a year old, already starting to understand baseball a little bit. When a game is on, that’s about the only time Blaze is quiet, his proud father said. All that has left the outfielder feeling a lot of appreciation for where he’s at.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be in this spot,” he said. “For them, they keep me as clear as I possibly can (be). So this right here is just the icing on the cake for us to be able to come out here and play baseball.”
Buxton, 27, is in his seventh major league season, and his experience has also helped bring him to where he’s at with his approach at the plate.
“I feel confident enough now where it doesn’t really matter what you throw to me. I’ll sit on breaking pitches. I’m starting to realize how quick my hands are to react to those fastballs,” Buxton said. “Once you get to that point, it’s pretty scary. It’s all about me going out there and having fun.”
The Twins will get their first looks at their two new veteran starters Monday and Tuesday when they travel to Detroit to face the Tigers. Matt Shoemaker, a Michigan native, will start Monday, and J.A. Happ, whose beginning to spring training was delayed after he tested positive for COVID-19, will start Tuesday.
Happ threw a simulated game Wednesday in Milwaukee and had built himself up over 70 pitches during his last spring training start.
“I think he’s built up to a good point to where he can go out there and make a successful start for us,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s ready. I don’t know any other way to say it than he’s ready to go out there, he’s confident and he’s ready to go.”