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No winter ball for Buxton

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There are still no plans for center fielder Byron Buxton to play winter ball, Twins GM Terry Ryan said. Buxton is spending his offseason in Georgia, working on his conditioning and girding himself for what he hopes will be his...

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There are still no plans for center fielder Byron Buxton to play winter ball, Twins GM Terry Ryan said.

Buxton is spending his offseason in Georgia, working on his conditioning and girding himself for what he hopes will be his first full season in the majors.

“He’s a pleasure to coach and manage,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said this week. “I’ve been around him enough since he signed to see the type of personality and makeup and desire.”

After a disappointing rookie season that included another injury absence (left thumb), Buxton has a clear path to the Opening Day job in center field. However, he must show he’s ready to hit at the big-league level after batting just .209 in 138 plate appearances last season.

“The transition for him, level to level, has always been how to deal with the next level of pitching,” Molitor said. “And we saw that somewhat in his at-bats at the major league level. We saw some improvement, particularly in September.”

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With the trade of Aaron Hicks, it would likely require Eddie Rosario or Danny Santana to handle center field if the Twins determine Buxton needs more time at Triple-A. Still considered by many the game’s top prospect, Buxton turns 22 on Dec. 18.

“There will be a question about whether Triple-A at-bats are needed for him to start the season, or will he make an impression that will be so favorable that we will lean to go with him right out of the chute?” Molitor said. “Either way, he’s going to be an impact player, I believe, for a long time. We’re just going to see when that clock starts ticking. That’s the only aspect.

“He’ll become a better base stealer with experience. His defense is already top end. It’s just going to be a matter of finding ways to utilize his offensive skills, and most of that is going to come with pitch recognition and learning the strike zone and how to put the ball in play.”

Park Life

Korean slugger Byung Ho Park, 29, received a few extra perks in his four-year, $12 million contract with the Twins to help ease his transition.

According to a person with direct knowledge, Park will receive $25,000 annually for airline tickets between Korea and the U.S., and $5,000 each year for moving expenses.

The Twins also agreed to pay $50,000 a year for an interpreter that Park and his agency, Octagon, will select. A two-month transitional overlap is expected, so Jae Woong Han, Octagon’s client manager, can help train Park’s full-time interpreter.

In addition to salaries of $2.75 million the next two seasons and $3 million in 2018-19, Park’s deal includes up to $750,000 in annual incentives, less than the $1 million previously reported.

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Including a $6.5 million club option for 2020 ($500,000 buyout), the maximum value of Park’s contract is $21.75 million.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA TWINS
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