Miguel Sano is heading to Class AAA Rochester to begin a minor league rehab assignment. The slugger has reached the point where he can take the next step in his recovery from a strained left hamstring.
After working out before Friday’s game, Twins manager Paul Molitor expressed optimism that Sano had finally gotten over the hump and is ready to start swinging a bat. After the early session, Sano met with team trainers and the club nutritionist to plot a course for his return to games.
“I thought he looked significantly better,” Molitor said. “Even as early as Wednesday. Better effort means less pain.”
Sano has been working out on the side for a couple weeks, but unable to run hard because of the lingering soreness in the hamstring. The club brought Sano on the recent four-game road series to Anaheim, but saw someone who was tentative when trying to run hard.
It has taken longer than expected for Sano to run harder. He has also spent time going through conditioning drills.
On Friday, Sano belted batting practice pitches out to every part of Target Field.
Since Aug. 19 of last season, Sano has played in just 23 of 81 games. The Twins surged to the wild-card round without him last season but have only played well in spurts this season. So his absence has been felt in some capacity.
Big series for Twins
Welcome to the Border Battle, as the Twins host a pretty scrappy Brewers team in a three game series at Target Field.
The Brewers are holding their own in the NL Central, sitting in second place in with a 26-18 record. This will be a good test for the Twins as they try to get to .500. It's hard to consider a team a threat when it has an 18-21 record - even if the Twins are in second place in their division.
Milwaukee has won five of its last seven games, winning a four-game series against Colorado then taking two of three from the Diamondbacks in the last week. The Brewers team ERA of 3.74 is a full run better than the Twins. And they have scored more runs than the Twins, 176-167.
And offense has been a little bit of an issue for the Brew Crew. They view the 22 runs they have scored over the last four games as an encouraging sign.
Ryan Braun has recently been placed on the DL with a back tightness. Ji-Man Choi has been called up to take his place on the roster.
Twins righthander Kyle Gibson is 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA in three starts against the Brewers. But Milwaukee has not seen the improved version. Gibson is 2-2, 2.66 over his last four starts, during which he's pitched at least six innings in three of those four outings. Opponents are batted .165 over his last four starts.
Will check back later with updates. Miguel Sano is out on the field for early work. Brian Dozier, batting .125 over his last four games, is taking early batting practice. He's been missing pitches he usually crushes.
Molitor said the Twins could face as many a seven lefthanded starters over the next 12 games, so he's going to pick and choose which lefties sit. Tonight, it's Logan Morrison.
FYI, Milwaukee has three lefthanded relievers, including closer Josh Hader. So late-inning matchups will be interesting.
LHP Brent Suter
Joe Mauer, 1B
Brian Dozier, 2B
Eddie Rosario, LF
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Max Kepler, RF
Robbie Grossman, RF
Byron Buxton, CF
Ehrie Adrianza, SS
Bobby Wilson, C
Kyle Gibson, RHP