This was early February 2016 and a week before pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report to the Twins’ complex in Fort Myers, Fla. for spring training. Slugger Miguel Sano and pitcher Randy Rosario were sitting on steps behind the minor-league clubhouse.
The two players were visiting with Cynthia and Jose Ramon Perez and other Dominican friends from Fort Myers. They had met five years earlier when Sano and Rosario were teenagers in the Twins’ system.
Sano was 22 and had been voted as the Twins’ MVP for his productive three months as a rookie in 2015. Rosario was 21 and a surprise addition to the Twins’ 40-player big-league roster after the 2015 season.
Sano signed with the Twins as a renowned Dominican prospect for $3.15 million. Rosario was a skinny lefthander and signed for $85,000. Miguel came from the baseball capital of San Pedro de Macoris, and Randy from Nagua, a city of 80,000 on the Atlantic Ocean.
“That’s where the crazy people live,’’ Sano said, drawing a laugh from the Dominicans sitting nearby.
Rosario said: “The only thing crazy is the people are crazy for fishing … lakes, the ocean, they are fishing all the time.’’
Later, Cynthia Perez nodded toward Rosario, pointed to her right temple and said: “He is very smart.’’
Sano and Rosario had the Dominican connection, and also were rehabbing from Tommy John surgery — Miguel’s right elbow, Randy’s left — in Fort Myers in 2014. Miguel was the future of the franchise, and Rosario’s presence on the roster was based on minimal minor league innings and being lefthanded.
General Manager Terry Ryan said: “A lefty with good stuff. We don’t want to lose one of those guys.’’
Simple theory, but not one shared by Derek Falvey, in Year 2 as Ryan’s successor. Rosario was taken off the roster in November 2017 to make room for others and claimed by the Cubs. He’s 24 and has been up and down from Class AAA. He has a 0.68 ERA in nine relief appearances for Chicago.
Sano, 25, is back in Fort Myers, trying to get smarter as a hitter, to name one area.
Baseball … you never know.
More on the mysterious pasttime:
•Miguel’s weight predicament is reminder of Ron Gardenhire being asked if reliever Jose Mijares was “in shape.’’ Gardy: “He’s in ‘a’ shape.’’
•Much ridicule when Twins signed Anibal Sanchez this spring. Too bad they didn’t keep him. He has a 1.93 ERA in seven games (six starts) for Atlanta.
• John Ryan Murphy is batting .250 with a home run per 13.5 ABs; Aaron Hicks .237 with one HR per 27.3 ABs. Trade’s lookin’ good.