MILWAUKEE -- Rookie center fielder Byron Buxton has been put on the 15-day disabled list by the Minnesota Twins because of a sprained left thumb, and one of baseball's best prospects will be out for at least a month.
Buxton was hurt trying to steal second base Tuesday, when his hand got caught underneath his body during a headfirst slide. Buxton played through the injury Wednesday, striking out in all four at-bats.
"Our head trainer [Dave Pruemer] had mentioned to me that he might have bruised his thumb," manager Paul Molitor said. "He mentioned that to me the morning of the Sale game and I didn't think much of it. You bruise your thumbs when you slide headfirst sometimes."
"After the game, he [Buxton] went back in there and made it known that it was a little worse than he thought," Molitor said. "So we had to start the test procedure in motion. Obviously, the knowledge was there it was definitely a sprain situation and it would take 4-6 weeks to recover."
Molitor called the diagnosis "tough news" for the 21-year-old Buxton, who has struggled at the plate but brought a palpable buzz to the Twins with his track-star speed and elite potential.
"The left hand is huge part of the grip on your bat," Molitor said. "I'm disappointed for him. He's been through kind of a whirlwind the last couple of weeks. Now he's been set back by injuries. I reached out to him and told him, just weather the storm and you'll come out better on the other end."
Injuries, though, have been a part of Buxton's career too. Last season, he sprained his left wrist in spring training, aggravated it in May with Class A Fort Myers and then suffered a concussion from a scary collision during a game with Double-A New Britain. All those costly dives for balls in the outfield robbed him of valuable development time.
Buxton is batting .189 in 11 games with five runs, a double, a triple and a steal plus two outfield assists.
Santana likely will play some center field, where he saw time last season, with Eduardo Nunez having settled in recently as the regular shortstop. Shane Robinson is the other option for filling Buxton's spot, and Aaron Hicks is due back soon from a rehab assignment for a strained right forearm.