Twins center fielder Byron Buxton leaves game early with knee soreness

CHICAGO — Byron Buxton took off for second base three times during Trevor Larnach’s second-inning at-bat. The last time, his run turned into a jog and he was thrown out easily at second base. That jog then turned into a ginger walk to the dugout, where the Twins center fielder was met by a team trainer and manager Rocco Baldelli.

The Twins soon announced that Buxton had left the game with soreness in his right knee, the same knee that he has had surgically repaired in each of the past two offseasons.

Buxton, through a team spokesperson, declined to comment, but Baldelli said the Twins planned to have him get imaging exam done on the knee to gather more information. The team was scheduled to fly back to the Twin Cities after Wednesday afternoon’s game.

“He’s been playing a good amount up until this point,” Baldelli said. “We just played 13 (games) in a row. We’re going to take advantage of that off day (Thursday), get some rest, asses where we’re at physically and we’ll probably know more on Friday.”

The Twins open a three-game series against Boston at Target Field on Friday evening.

Buxton was limited to designated hitter all of last season, but landed on the injured list in early August with a hamstring strain. As he attempted to come back, his knee flared up, forcing him to miss the end of the season and much of the playoffs. He underwent offseason knee surgery for the second time in his career and reported to spring training feeling much better.

Before Wednesday, he had played in 28 of the team’s 30 games before, mostly as the center fielder but with a few games as the DH sprinkled in.

“He was his normal self this morning, so it was something that came up during the game, I would say,” Baldelli said. “Besides that, though, he’s been good. He’s gotten all his work in and he’s been ready to play.”

The Twins would go on to win their 10th straight game on Wednesday — a 10-5 win over the Chicago White Sox — without Buxton. And although the Twins didn’t yet have much information on Buxton’s condition, catcher Ryan Jeffers found one positive sign to hang on to.

“He had some uplifting words and he was seemingly in good spirits,” Jeffers said.