DETROIT — Wherever he goes these days, Byron Buxton has a new constant companion: A rectangular blue box called the True Wave that helps speed his recovery from a bone contusion in his left hand. “That’s my best friend,” Buxton said Saturday afternoon, Sept. 23, as he sat at his Comerica Park locker. In between baseball activities at the park and during his down time at the hotel or while flying from city to city, Buxton has found relief in hooking up a small, oval-shaped electrode patch to the back of his hand and letting the electronic stimulator work its magic. “You don’t feel anything” while it’s on, Buxton said, but that changes once he removes the patch and holds his hand down by his side. “I feel a rush of blood,” Buxton said. “It’s like a tingling feeling but it feels good.” Since suffering the injury on an awkward swing on Wednesday, Aug. 30, Buxton has made 20 starts and hit .293 with a .361 on-base percentage in 83 trips. However, he also has 24 strikeouts against just five unintentional walks in that span. Seven of those strikeouts came during an 0-for-10 showing this week in his first career series at Yankee Stadium. Facing Yankees reliever David Robertson in Monday night’s sixth inning, he fouled off a pitch and immediately felt a stinging sensation shoot through his injured hand. “I think I got a backup slider or backup cutter and it was inside,” Buxton said. “I was trying to keep my hands inside and fouled it off. As I was swinging, I was like, ‘I feel good, I feel good.’ Then I got to that one point and I was like, ‘Ouch!’ Right after that, I was like, ‘Wow, that didn’t feel good!’ “ Buxton walked around for 10 seconds or so, let his hand “calm back down” and stepped back into the box to complete his strikeout. After that Sept. 18 game, he was using the True Wave when he asked the Twins’ medical staff for a favor. “I was like, ‘All right, I’ve got to do something,’ “ he said. “I asked them, ‘Can I take this machine home?’ They said, ‘Yeah, you can take it home.’ And I haven’t taken it back to them since.” Buxton has been using the stim machine now for about 10 days, but since the first night at Yankee Stadium he’s been using it for up to 45 minutes at a time in two different periods “right before I actually fall asleep.” He uses it in the morning when he wakes up as well, then more at the ballpark, before and after games. “I do a little laser, and that usually calms it down and keeps (the pain) manageable,” he said. “Whenever I put it back on, it gives my hand a little more comfort. It’s been feeling a whole lot better the more that I do it.” Through the first two games of this series against the Tigers, Buxton was 4 for 8 with two doubles, four runs batted in and three runs scored. New approach to international scouting The decision to part ways with longtime Twins international scouting coordinator Howard Norsetter had as much to do with a changing bonus structure for international talent than any other factor. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, major league organizations will pursue amateur players and professionals under the age of 25 with the same modest bonus pools. That means, for instance, Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Otani, expected to sign with a big-league team this winter, will count against the same 2017-18 bonus pool as 16-year-olds from Latin America. The Twins, who traded for an extra $500,000 in bonus-pool money from the Washington Nationals, have $5.75 million to spend in that realm during this period. “Historically you did have markets all over the place where you could run independently,” Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. “The way the bonus structures worked, there was no cap, there were no limitations. Now we have it all under one umbrella. Where we devote our time, our resources and otherwise, we’ve revisited that to some degree.” Under this “restructuring,” Falvey said the Twins would likely “re-appropriate some resources” toward Latin American countries. Fred Guerrero, 37, has served as the club’s Latin American scouting coordinator for the past several years and could take on a larger role under this new structure. “I know that most teams now have one person managing the pool because it all comes out of the same pot,” Falvey said. “In our minds we wanted to make sure we streamlined that moving forward.” Briefly Falvey said the Twins have advance scouts on site for all potential American League postseason opponents but will wait to scout National League teams until the postseason begins, should they secure the final AL wild-card spot. They also could have minor-league managers and special assistants Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer conduct video scouting of potential postseason opponents. The Cleveland Indians juggled their rotation for next week’s series against the Twins at Progressive Field. Right-handers Josh Tomlin and Danny Salazar will start on Tuesday and Wednesday with Thursday’s starter now likely to come from either Trevor Bauer or Carlos Carrasco. Mike Clevinger is heading to the bullpen.
FARGO — North Dakota State running back Lance Dunn’s yards-per-carry average is starting to look like a typo in the Bison football statistics. After three games, the junior is averaging nearly 14 yards per attempt.
Dunn needed only three carries to gain 111 yards and run for three scores Saturday afternoon, Sept. 23, against Robert Morris University (Pa.) at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. The No. 2-ranked Bison scored early and often in taking a 56-0 victory against the Colonials in Division I FCS nonconference play before 18,308 fans.
Dunn finished the game with four touchdowns on four touches, including a 10-yard TD catch late in the first quarter.
“Pretty productive,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said.
“I’ve never done anything like that,” Dunn added. “I’m really proud of our offense.”
The Bison improved to 3-0 with Missouri Valley Football Conference play starting next weekend at the Fargodome against Missouri State. NDSU outscored its opponents 168-20 in its three nonconference games. The Bison scored 35 points in the first quarter against the Colonials.
“I’m really pleased with how the guys came out and played,” Klieman said. “We talked all week about starting fast. … We knew this team had the ability to hang in there unless we gave them the knockout punch early on.”
Dunn threw a haymaker on his first carry of the game, bouncing off right tackle and racing to the end zone for a 61-yard score that gave the Bison a 7-0 lead with 12 minutes, 25 seconds to play in the first quarter.
“I just bounced it and there was nothing but green after that,” Dunn said.
Dunn has rushed for 401 yards and eight touchdowns on 29 attempts in three games.
The 5-foot-9, 211-pounder had three touchdowns in the first quarter alone against the Colonials, a 15-minute scoring spree that ended with Dunn’s 10-yard touchdown catch that gave the Bison a 35-0 lead with 50 seconds to play in the first quarter.
The Bison defense also played a hand in the fast start, causing three turnovers in the first quarter that led to 21 points. Bison senior safety Tre Dempsey had a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave NDSU a 21-0 lead with 7:33 to play in the opening quarter. It was Dempsey’s first interception return for a touchdown in his career.
“We talked about playing our heart out and competing as hard as we can,” Dempsey said. “The standard was to dominate.”
The Bison built a 49-0 halftime lead and played the second half mostly with reserves. Junior quarterback Easton Stick completed 11 of 15 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half. Stick left in favor of senior backup Cole Davis, who got his first career rushing touchdown with a 17-yard run in the third quarter. Davis injured his shoulder on that play and didn’t return to the game.
The Colonials didn’t get their initial first down until the final play of the first half. The Bison linebackers helped lead the way and they did it without their top player, senior Nick DeLuca, who was sitting out his second straight game with a knee injury.
Bison junior Dan Marlette started in his place, and contributed to two touchdowns with a quarterback pressure that led to Dempsey’s interception return for a score. Marlette also forced a fumble that led to another Bison touchdown.
“He’s a good football player and the game’s slowed down for him,” Klieman said of Marlette.
Dunn played fast in his limited touches. He capped his afternoon with a 45-yard touchdown burst that gave the Bison a 49-0 lead with 58 seconds to play until halftime. On the play, Dunn found a seam up the middle and zipped between two Robert Morris defenders in the secondary on the way to the end zone.
Dunn’s four total touchdowns were the most a Bison player has scored since running back D.J. McNorton had four TDs against Montana State in the second round of the 2010 FCS playoffs. Dunn has nine total touchdowns through three games. The Bison record for total TDs in a season is 23, shared by quarterback Jeff Bentrim (1986) and Lamar Gordon (2000). Bentrim also has the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 23 in 1986.
“He’s got great vision and he has a second gear,” Klieman said of Dunn. “He’s a playmaker for us.”