Miguel Sano lashed out at a series of batting practice pitches Saturday, proving that his injured right foot hasn’t affected his ability to crush 65-mile-per-hour fastballs. As a reward, Sano has won a free trip to Florida.
His return ticket? Probably still a month off.
“The days are hot, and they only play in the hot weather,” the Twins’ erstwhile third baseman, who missed all of spring training while a deep cut just above his right heel healed, said of his upcoming trip to Fort Myers. “I’ll go there for a while. … All I want is to come back and play the game here.”
By the middle of the week, Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said, Sano will report to the Twins’ Florida headquarters to begin a simulated, if shortened, spring training — first working on regaining the conditioning that two idle months has cost him, and after 10 days of that, perhaps playing for the Class A Miracle.
“He’ll tell you he’s good to go, ready to play tomorrow, which is good. That’s where his mind-set is,” Falvey said. “Our hope would be that we’re maybe looking at early May for that. I said a while back that we’re maybe targeting an early May return to the big leagues — it’s more than likely an early May return to playing baseball. How much time it takes from that point to be big-league ready, it’s going to be dependent on how that goes.”
Sano will probably play at Class AAA Rochester or Class AA Pensacola before returning to the Twins as well, Falvey said.
For his part, Sano confirmed Falvey’s thesis — that he doesn’t want to wait another second to start playing baseball.
“I’ve been running, I’ve been swinging, hitting in the cage, and today I’m going to start hitting on the playing field with the whole team. Then I’ll take grounders,” Sano said. “I’m ready to do everything. I feel really good, my leg feels great, and as soon as they tell me I need to start doing everything, I’ll start.”
More rehab stints
Sano isn’t the only injured Twins player ready to ramp up his rehabilitation. Righthander Matt Magill will travel from extended spring training camp in Fort Myers to Rochester, N.Y., on Sunday to begin his comeback from shoulder tendinitis, and by midweek, lefthander Gabriel Moya, coming back from a similar injury, will be in Biloxi, Miss., to join Pensacola on a road trip.
“When they go out, they’ll be 100 percent,” Falvey said. “They’ve been throwing out in [Fort Myers], and usually the progression is a couple of extended [spring training] outings to make sure everything is good.”
The Twins can assign each pitcher to rehab for 30 days before having to decide whether to restore them to the 25-man major league roster.
Meanwhile, righthander Addison Reed (sprained left thumb) is progressing in Fort Myers, too, Falvey said, though the Twins are not ready for the veteran reliever to begin a rehab assignment.
And in Rochester, outfielder Alex Kirilloff (strained wrist) and lefthander Stephen Gonsalves (forearm tightness) remain sidelined. Kirilloff could return soon, though Gonsalves might need more time.
“Any time you have forearm-related tightness for a pitcher, you want to be a little more conservative, so we are going to shut him down for a couple of weeks and then reassess,” Falvey said. “We want to be careful there.”
Detroit shortstop Jordy Mercer doubled in the fifth inning Saturday, but he limped to second base, having suffered a strained right quadriceps as he rounded first base. Mercer left the game and was placed on the 10-day injured list afterward.
The Tigers were also without right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, who has a sprained right big toe, and utility infielder Niko Goodrum, who came down with the flu.