Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Jan. 25: Twins prospect Sano: I'll hit 45 homers this year

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: January 25, 2014 - 5:33 PM

    His sore elbow kept him from doing his normal workout for six weeks, so Miguel Sano put on a few extra pounds. "I weighed myself today and I was 250," the 20-year-old Dominican slugger said. "When spring training starts, I'll weigh like 245, I think."

    But if his body has gotten bigger this offseason, so have his expectations. Sano may have only 67 games of experience above Class A, but made it clear Saturday in Target Field that he intends to play here this season -- and right away.

    "I have a fairly [large] amount of expectation to make the team" this spring, said the minor leagues' top power-hitting prospect. Speaking through interpreter Rob Plummer, his agent, Sano said he plans to "make sure he takes advantage of this opportunity the Twins are giving him, to try to make the team. He has to make sure he does everything as a professional, and not just as a guy. He feels like if he does those things, he has a great chance to make the team."

    His expectations are higher than that, actually. When it was pointed out that his home run totals have jumped from 20 in 2011 to 28 in 2012, and to 35 last year, Sano didn't need an interpreter to explain what's next. 

    "I hit 45 this year. More games," he said. "Maybe 55, you never know."

    Such is the exuberance of a power hitter who just received a clean bill of health. Sano was examined by Twins' doctors on Saturday, the fourth such exam he's undergone since he began feeling pain in his elbow shortly after the season ended, and no structural damage was found. The pain has ceased after his six-week break from training, too, so it appears he will avoid surgery.

    His next project: Developing a better grasp of the strike zone, in hopes of becoming a more patient hitter. Sano seemed excited about the possibility after Joe Mauer offered to work with him in Fort Myers, Fla., next month. Considering he posted a .382 on-base percentage in 2012,  drew 65 walks last year and 80 the year before, he's already displayed plenty of patience.

    But Sano is characteristically thinking big. How many walks this year? "Hundred and 20," he said. "Maybe 150."

Gibson is confident

    Kyle Gibson had an errand to run once his TwinsFest duties ended Saturday: He was going house-hunting.

    Confident about his chances of coming north in April? "Well, I'm looking for a place in Rochester, too," the 26-year-old former first-round pick admitted.

    He's got a good reason for being as organized as possible as the season approaches: His wife Elizabeth is due to deliver the couple's first child on March 9.

    "You can't just go out on a whim and find a place" at the last minute, he said. "I've got to make sure I put my family in the right situation."

    He's like that for himself, too, especially if that situation is in Minneapolis. Gibson is one of at least a half-dozen pitchers battling for the fifth spot in the Twins' rotation this spring, but he figures his disappointing experience in 2013 -- Gibson went 2- with a 6.53 ERA -- will be an advantage once camp opens. "I feel like I've got a good idea what it takes to get guys out. ... I've got a sinker that can tie guys up. And amazingly, for seven of the 10 outings, my slider was terrible," Gibson said. "That was more me getting in my own way, and being too tense. Normally, I can throw a slider for a first-pitch strike, and I just couldn't do that. My slider will be better this year."

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