Byron Buxton played through rib pain

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Update, 5:47 PM ET: The Twins’ Dustin Morse reports that no fracture was found in Buxton’s ribs after undergoing multiple tests on Saturday. It appears that he was just playing with intense rib pain following the collision at the wall, and is now facing a much shorter recovery period as he looks forward to a fairly normal offseason.

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Twins’ outfielder Byron Buxton left it all on the field during the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, grinding out a run with an RBI force out and slamming into the center field wall to corral a would-be extra-base hit from Todd Frazier. It’s the latter play that got him into trouble, though he played through three more innings before the Twins yanked him in the bottom of the fifth with upper back tightness. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press corrected that diagnosis on Saturday, reporting that Buxton had instead suffered a cracked rib on the catch.

While the club has yet to address Buxton’s injury, he’s expected to make a full recovery well in advance of spring training. He missed 18 days with a bone contusion in his left hand and a left groin strain earlier in the year, but has been largely healthy for his third campaign with the Twins and finished the regular season batting .253/.314/.413 with 16 home runs and a career-best 3.5 fWAR in 511 PA.

As for the center field wall itself, it doesn’t seem like the Twins are inclined to spruce it up with extra padding over the offseason. Per Berardino, the club shelled out over $100,000 back in 2014 when Aaron Hicks and Sam Fuld sustained concussions after similar collisions at the wall.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.