Nearly a month after fouling a pitch off his left shin and suffering a stress reaction, Miguel Sano remains sidelined and is unsure when he will return to the lineup to assist in the postseason push.

“The team is winning, the team is having fun,” Sano said. “I want to be part of that. So it is a little frustrating.”

Sano spoke with reporters for the first time since he suffered the injury. He fouled a ball off his leg Aug. 18 against Arizona. He attempted to play the next day but left the game when he struggled to run to first on a groundout.

The Twins expected Sano to have progressed further at this point, but the shin has been slow to heal. The team has tried different strategies to speed up the recovery, but to no avail. The shin bothers him when he runs or after his workouts.

“We’re still working with the trainer to get back as soon as possible,” said Sano, who estimated he runs with 75 percent effort when he tests the shin.

Sano had made some progress, to the point where some in the organization believed he could be in position to pinch hit during the Toronto series. That appears no longer to be a possibility. Besides, Sano said Thursday that he doesn’t want to get healthy enough just to pinch hit. He wants to return to the lineup.

“I want to get to a point where I know I’m healthy. I know I can go out there and know I’m not going to have any problems,” Sano said. “I don’t want to go out there now and hurt myself and miss the rest of the season and next year not be healthy because I’m recovering from making it worse.

“I want to make sure I’m healthy and 100 percent.”

His return could be one of the bigger developments among the playoff contending teams. The Twins have held strong during the second half because Eddie RosarioByron BuxtonEduardo EscobarJorge Polanco and others have stepped up.

Drop Sano, batting .267 with 28 homers and 77 RBI, in the middle of the lineup now, and his presence will make the Twins tougher as the try to hold on to the second wild card spot in the American League.

Sano did not work out Thursday, only taking treatment. He has the shin wrapped with a medicated pad on it. He then pulls on a walking cast when he moves around the park.

How long it will be before the cast can be put away and his shin unwrapped is anyone’s guess at this point.

“I’m going to keep hoping that something turns this thing in the right direction at a little faster speed,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, “but, obviously, the days are dwindling here.”

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