As if the Twins need another power hitter right now ...
The final phase of Miguel Sano’s return to the major leagues is about to begin.
Tuesday, the third baseman will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment at Class A Fort Myers, then is expected to eventually head to Class AAA Rochester to get his swing ready before he is activated from the injured list. Minor league rehabilitation assignments for position players can last up to 20 days.
Sano has been playing in extended spring training games lately. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli reported Friday that Sano had homered earlier that day.
“He’s still working through the strength and conditioning and getting down into Florida and getting into the swing-of-things portion of his trip down there,” Baldelli said at the time. “He’s doing great.”
Once Sano returns, it will end the latest hiccup in his attempt to get his career on track. He spent the offseason conditioning like never before, losing around 25 pounds. He was allowed to play for his Dominican Winter League team, Estrellas, which won the championship for the first time since 1968. But it was during a celebration following the title when, while walking down from a stage, a teammate bumped into him, causing him to cut his heel on a metal stair.
The laceration was on the back of the heel, near his Achilles’ tendon. The cut was horizontal, making it hard to heal quickly.
On top of that, the initial procedure to stitch up the wound didn’t work. Sano ended up having a debridement procedure March 5 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and had to restart his recovery.
After working on his conditioning and playing in extended spring training games, Sano now must get his bat sharp by playing in minor league games.
Astudillo to IL
The Twins will put utility player Willians Astudillo on the 10-day injured list because of a left hamstring strain suffered Saturday. They will announce the move Sunday, in addition to a corresponding roster move.
Astudillo was injured as he tagged from third base and scored on Max Kepler’s third-inning sacrifice fly for the first run in Saturday’s 9-2 victory over the Orioles. Astudillo, batting .327 with two home runs, favored his left leg as he crossed home plate.
“It’s part of baseball,” Astudillo said through an interpreter. “And right now I’m trying to assimilate with what’s going on and think about it and work hard and hopefully in 10 days I’m back.”
Ehire Adrianza replaced Astudillo in the batting order while playing third base. Marwin Gonzalez, who started the game at third base, moved to left field after Astudillo started the game in right.
Outfielder Jake Cave, who was sent down Wednesday, is among the options to be called back, especially since he can play all three outfield positions.
Twins righthander Jose Berrios threw curveballs 37.6% of the time in his four previous starts this season. On Saturday, just 17 of his 101 pitches — 16.8% — were curves.
“I thought they were always sitting on my curveball,” Berrios said. “Last outing, they hit two homers off me on the curveball. We said, ‘Today, we’re going to throw the curveball if it’s a good situation. If not, just fastballs and changeups.’ That’s what we did.”
Berrios threw 23 changeups Saturday, and was able to limit Baltimore to two runs on seven hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Berrios improved to 4-1 on the season, joining a handful of AL pitchers who have won at least four games.
Buxton doesn’t start
Center fielder Byron Buxton did not start on Saturday after fouling a ball of his left lower leg on Friday. But he entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth, walked and stole second base.