DETROIT – Twins manager Paul Molitor reminds right fielder Miguel Sano at times that learning a new position takes time. He doesn’t want his young slugger to get down if things aren’t going well defensively.
“We are really trying to make sure he knows that we appreciate what he is trying to do to become a good outfielder,” Molitor said, “but there have been a couple times where I thought his defensively play has affected him somewhat offensively. Kind of like what we saw with [Danny] Santana playing shortstop last year.”
Santana said worrying about the responsibilities of playing shortstop affected his hitting, leading to this switch to the outfield. Sano is different. He said he likes playing third base but doesn’t mind playing the outfield. And he’s able to separate hitting from fielding.
“There are times when I am a little bit tired just when I have to run so much out there,” Sano said. “But I have the same mind-set going into the batter’s box. It doesn’t affect me at all.”
Still, Molitor will look for opportunities to get Sano a game at third base or use him as the designated hitter if he senses that Sano needs a break from playing in the outfield. Sunday was one of those days; Molitor gave Trevor Plouffe a day off and used Sano at third in Cleveland. Sano was back in right field Monday against Detroit.
“Yeah, I look for chances,” Molitor said. “I know he loves getting a chance to come in there and play at third, or even DH is a nice little break for him, sometimes, from that right field spot. I kind of keep my eye on how a guy is swinging and what the results are.”
Molitor said he will have a tough decision to make when Eduardo Escobar (right hamstring) comes off the disabled list, which could be as soon as Sunday.
Eduardo Nunez, who has replaced Escobar at shortstop, has played some of the best baseball of his career. He is batting .330 with two home runs and 13 RBI.
“He has a combination of being able to spray the ball around and hit for occasional power,” Molitor said of Nunez. “He can run, he’s disruptive on the bases. He’s become a much better defender.”
Escobar, the Opening Day shortstop, is batting .237. He has been running and hitting in the batting cages at Target Field and wants to leave for a minor league rehabilitation assignment soon. He’s scheduled to face live pitching Tuesday and could head out later this week.
Tobacco ban suggested
Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, introduced legislation Monday that would ban use of smokeless tobacco products in every professional sports stadium in Minnesota. It would have a direct effect on baseball, in which players have chewed tobacco for years.
The use of smokeless tobacco could become a part of negotiations between the players’ union and the league. The collective bargaining agreement expires Dec. 1. Smokeless tobacco has been banned in the minor leagues for years.
The introduction of Freiberg’s bill came after committee deadlines, so it is a long shot to gain any traction. But New York, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles have passed similar laws, and one in Chicago is set to take effect June 1.
• Center fielder Danny Santana was battling eye problems late in Monday’s game and was being checked for a scratched eyeball afterward, which is why Oswaldo Arcia pinch-hit for him in the eighth inning. Molitor said Santana was tearing and could track the ball in the field but could not track it at the plate.
• Twins righthander Kyle Gibson threw a 45-pitch bullpen session Monday with no problems. Gibson, on the disabled list because a sore shoulder, will face hitters Thursday at Target Field, then head out on a rehabilitation assignment.