FORT MYERS, Fla. — Miguel Sano had just finished a weight-room workout when he walked into the clubhouse this morning, and I feared for my life.
OK, that’s an exaggeration, because Sano is a friendly soul. But the man is built like a four-story building, and he enjoys showing off a little. He got a teammate’s attention, flexed his bicep, and laughed.
“A lot stronger this year,” Sano said. “Worked every day this winter. A lot stronger.”
And that’s without trying to lift as much weight as he can. Sano said he focuses on repetition, not enormous weight, because he doesn’t want to strain his right elbow, which he had repaired with Tommy John surgery three years ago. But he clearly is eager for 2017 to start.
“A big year. A good year,” Sano said, sweeping his arm around the clubhouse. “For everyone here.”
Sano’s arrival, and that of Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier at the other end of the room, nearly completes the Twins’ roster. Only minor-league invitee Drew Stubbs is missing now, and he’ll be here tomorrow for the formal reporting day.
A couple minor pieces of injury news this morning: Glen Perkins will throw lightly in the bullpen on Saturday, the latest step in his recovery from shoulder surgery. And left handed reliever Mason Melotakis won’t throw for a few days; he reported to camp with a mild oblique strain on his right side, an injury suffered about a week ago.
I wrote for this morning’s paper about Chris Gimenez, the journeyman catcher who is considered a leading contender for the backup spot behind Jason Castro. I mentioned how he is still bugged by Jose Bautista’s monstrous home run and bat flip during the playoffs two seasons ago, a bit of history he witnessed up close.(Funny thing, though — he doesn’t consider that the biggest disappointment of his career. Game 7 of last fall’s World Series was tougher, he said, even though he wasn’t on the Indians’ active roster, “just because I knew that I had played a role in getting us to that point.”)
I didn’t include his opinion of that day in Toronto, but it’s interesting to hear him talk about it. He was in the middle of everything that happened afterward — remember, the benches emptied twice after the home run, once as Edwin Encarnacion came to bat, and the other after Troy Tulowitzki popped up.
“I was not too enthused about [Bautista’s bat flip]. Trust me, I understand everybody was excited, and I have no problem with that,” Gimenez said. “But I felt there was something a little bit more malicious, a ‘F you, look at me’ kind of thing,” Gimenez said. “I don’t really mind flipping the bat, you’ve earned it. But to go to the extent he did — he threw the bat damn near our dugout — and then walk down the line and make those faces, I just didn’t appreciate it at the time.”
That said, Gimenez added, his anger faded pretty quickly. “I don’t have any problem with him. Hell, I’m mostly amazed at what he did, in that situation, against such a great reliever [Sam Dyson],” Gimenez said. “But at that moment, emotions were pretty high. That series was intense, every inning, every game. So we weren’t happy about how it ended.”
He’s never heard a crowd that loud, he said. “My uniform was [shaking] from all the noise,” Gimenez said. “That crowd was berserk.”
Gimenez had helped silence that same Rogers Centre crowd, and experienced a career highlight, just three games earlier, when he provided a critical hit in the game-winning, 14th-inning rally during Game 2. That hit came off of LaTroy Hawkins, who is now working with Twins pitchers in camp.
“I’ll have to talk to him about that,” Gimenez said with a laugh.