BOSTON – The Twins aren’t exactly certain that six weeks is enough time to reset Miguel Sano’s approach and retool his swing. But necessity has sped up the timetable.
The 2017 All-Star third baseman will be in uniform for the Twins again on Saturday, his prove-you’re-ready stint with Class AAA Rochester cut short after only four games by the Twins’ trade of Eduardo Escobar to Arizona on Friday. Sano has lost weight, improved his commitment to working at his craft and he’s hit a few baseballs hard, too.
“We have a need,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Hopefully he’ll be able to lengthen our lineup a little bit.”
The Twins never put a timetable on Sano’s rebuilding project, sending him to Class A Fort Myers on June 14 — he was batting only .203 with 66 strikeouts in 37 games — with orders to reel in his appetite, both for food and low-and-away breaking balls.
Sano accepted the challenge willfully, the Twins say, and after hitting .328 with a couple of homers in 19 games in the Florida State League, he was promoted to Rochester a week ago in order to get at-bats against better pitching. He was only 2-for-14 in four games there, but the major league vacancy at third base forced the move.
“I watch the video every day. He looks like he’s competing really well. He looks physically better,” Molitor said. “Everything he’s done has been a positive response to the challenge. And now it’s going to be a little bit of, OK, we’re back in the fire a little bit. You don’t have too much pressure on yourself, but let’s keep it going with the momentum that you’ve begun over the last six weeks or so. And let’s carry it over to the big leagues.”
Molitor gets HOF break
Induction into the Hall of Fame is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, Molitor said, and Jack Morris and Alan Trammell mean a lot to him. So being there on his friends’ big day was always something that felt right to him.
But missing a couple of Twins games? Now that it’s here, that won’t be easy.
“It’s very odd,” Molitor said. “It’s an awkward thing to walk out for a day or two and just not be here. I know it’s in good hands, it’s just something I haven’t done.”
Molitor will depart Saturday morning for Cooperstown, N.Y., about a 4½-hour drive from Boston, in order to be on the dais with his fellow Hall of Famers during Sunday’s ceremonies. He considered remaining for Saturday night’s game, but that would have meant arriving around 4 a.m.
“When I talked to [Twins President] Dave St. Peter about that option, he was pretty adamant to say, ‘You don’t want to try to endure that and see how you come out on the back end of it come Monday,’ ” Molitor said. “As well as the fact that they want me to be able to at least enjoy a little bit of the time there, which will come down to about 30 hours, in and out.”
Bench coach Derek Shelton will be in charge of the team during Molitor’s excused absence. A former minor league catcher in his first season with the Twins, Shelton managed the Yankees’ Gulf Coast League rookie team in 2000-01 and the Class A Staten Island Yankees in 2002 before working as a coach with the Indians, Rays and Blue Jays.
So he’s no rookie at this. But just in case, Molitor said, “we’ve been talking about it this week. Some lineups and some things we have in place for the next couple of days.”
So it seems Byron Buxton’s left wrist has indeed healed. The speedy center fielder was activated from the minor league disabled list on Friday, and immediately — on the second pitch of Class AAA Rochester’s game in Louisville — hit a home run, his third of the season.
It was Buxton’s first action since July 12, when he injured his wrist while swinging.