CLEVELAND – Third baseman Miguel Sano is swinging a bat again.
Sano, recovering from a stress reaction in his left shin, took 60 swings at Target Field on Wednesday. It's the first time he's done anything baseball-related in a couple of weeks.
"He's been doing rehab, but we limited the swings to get him to a point where the swelling is managed," Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said. "Now we feel he is at a point where this is the best next step.
"In terms of offseason plan, we will revisit that when we get to that point. We're still trying to get him to a place where he can return at some point to full baseball activities so we can make a decision as to whether or not he can be a member of something moving forward."
While it is highly unlikely that Sano will be available for the wild-card round next week, the Twins are trying to figure out if Sano can be available later in October if they make a deeper playoff run.
Sano, out since Aug. 19, has seen two specialists, Dr. Martin O'Malley in New York (who works with the NBA's Brooklyn Nets) and Dr. Robert Anderson in Carolina (who works with the NFL's Panthers) to make sure they were on the right path. Their diagnosis matched up, so the Twins will continue with their recovery plan.
"We said all along that putting the actual date or time-table is challenging," Falvey said. "We'll take it day to day. The fact he took 60 swings [Wednesday] felt good. We'll see how he comes in [Thursday]. We're hopeful he can take another set of swings."
The Twins have been meeting in recent days to figure out what their roster for the wild-card game will look like. Here are a few of their biggest issues:
Will they take 10 or 11 pitchers to New York? Last year, both the Orioles and Blue Jays went with 10 pitchers and 15 position players for the wild-card game. The Twins could take one more, depending on what options they want to have against the Yankees.
Which starter will be moved to the bullpen, Jose Berrios or Kyle Gibson? With righthanders Tyler Duffey and Dillon Gee able to pitch more than one inning, the Twins might only take one starter between Berrios and Gibson. If it is Berrios, they might not have him start Friday against Detroit and bring him out of the bullpen just to get familiar with the role.
How many lefties? Pitching coach Neil Allen would like three lefthanders in the bullpen. That means Taylor Rogers and Buddy Boshers are locks. The third could be Adalberto Mejia or Gabriel Moya. Yes, Moya — called up from Class AA on Sept. 12 — could be put on the postseason roster.
The sooner the Twins can clinch the wild-card spot, the better so they can settle some of these issues. Manager Paul Molitor is reluctant to discuss those topics until then.
"I really want to get that win," Molitor said. "We'll have to look at things we want to do differently when we get to that point."
Game on for now
The Twins-Indians series scheduled for April 17-18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is expected to go on as planned.
Puerto Rico was devastated over a week ago when Hurricane Maria hit the island as a Category 4 storm. Damage is widespread and will take months to repair. But the league intends to hold the games at historic Hiram Bithorn Stadium, which suffered damage from the storm.
"At this point we fully intend to play the games in San Juan next year," league spokesman John Blundell said, "and don't believe they'll need to be canceled."
A statue of Hiram Bithorn, the first Puerto Rican to play in the majors, was blown over during the storm. But that's down the list of concerns right now, as the country needs basic supplies and must restore electricity to much of the island.