FORT MYERS, Fla. – Citing “insufficient evidence,” Major League Baseball decided Miguel Sano will not be disciplined following an investigation into an alleged assault in 2015.
The Twins third baseman was the subject of a league inquiry after being accused, on Twitter, of assault in a 2015 incident at Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka.
Sano, in a release translated from Spanish, said: “I want to thank Major League Baseball for conducting a thorough investigation, and I’m happy to put this behind me.”
Sano was accused in a Dec. 28, 2017 Twitter post of trying to forcibly pull a woman into a bathroom after an autograph appearance at a fan apparel store at Ridgedale in October, 2015.
“The Office of the Commissioner found that there was insufficient evidence to support a disciplinary determination against Sano, due to conflicting and inconsistent witness accounts and the absence of contemporaneous substantiation,” the league said in a Friday statement. “Barring the receipt of any new information or evidence, the Office of the Commissioner will not impose discipline on Sano.”
The announcement came the same day Boston pitcher Steven Wright was handed a 15-game suspension without pay for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. Wright was arrested Dec. 8 for domestic assault and preventing a 911 call, a case that was later retired.
Sano, who denied the accusations from the start, will be able to begin the season on the Twins active roster, and is expected to be at third base on Opening Day on Thursday in Baltimore.
He left the clubhouse as soon as it was opened to the media following Friday’s exhibition game against Houston, before the league’s announcement, and was not available to comment before a release was issued by the players’ association.
Sano was accused by Betsy Bissen, who photographed occasional Twins games for fan website Twins Daily and helped facilitate player appearances at Fan HQ in Ridgedale. Bissen took pictures of Sano on Oct. 3, 2015, at the store. After the appearance, she wrote on Twitter, he grabbed her by the wrist and insisted that she join him and his then-agent, Rob Plummer, as they shopped at another store.
After a half-hour, Sano decided to leave and went out a back door, Bissen wrote, then said he needed to use a restroom. When Bissen pointed at the door, she wrote, “the athlete took that as a signal that I wanted him to grab me and try to take me back through that door.” Bissen said Sano attempted to kiss her, but she resisted and they struggled for about 10 minutes before he gave up.
Both Bissen and Sano were interviewed, with Sano’s interview taking place on Feb. 27 in the Fort Myers area.
“The comprehensive investigation included interviews of more than 20 individuals, including Sano and the complainant, as well as a review of available documents, including communication records,” MLB said in its statement.
During a 2017 season in which he played just 114 games, Sano hit 28 home runs as the primary cleanup hitter and led the Twins with an .859 OPS. He made his first American League All-Star team.
Sano missed all but three games over the final six weeks last season because of a stress reaction in his left shin, and had a rod placed inside his leg in mid-November to stabilize the bone. He has been healthy enough to play during spring training despite weighing in at 293 pounds earlier in camp after vowing to pay attention to his conditioning. He’s batting .303 with three home runs and six RBI in 13 games.
The organization prepared for either outcome — suspension or no suspension — at the start of the season.
“The Minnesota Twins fully support the joint MLB-MLBPA policy which governs serious matters of this nature, “ The club said in a statement. “The Twins are pleased that the Commissioner’s Office has concluded its investigation with respect to Miguel Sano. Miguel can now return his sole focus to the season ahead.”