Four weeks remain before the baseball season starts, which sounds like a long time. To everyone but Miguel Sano.
The horizontal laceration just above the third baseman’s right heel is “probably about 80 percent” healed, Twins athletic trainer Tony Leo said Thursday, “but unfortunately, we need actually 100 percent” because the cut is so close to his Achilles’ tendon. The upshot: Sano will wear the protective boot on his right foot for another week at least, preventing him from preparing for the 2019 season and putting in doubt his readiness for Opening Day.
“There’s no way to say for sure” whether Sano can be ready for the Twins’ March 28 opener, manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I can’t say exactly what number of at-bats Miguel is going to get. Once we get the boot off [and Sano] on the field, working up to full speed — once we do that, we’ll have a pretty good idea fairly early of what kind of timetable we’re looking at.”
The slugger suffered the cut during a “Cavalcade of Champions” celebration in San Pedro de Macoris, his Dominican Republic hometown, on Jan. 26, and he hasn’t been able to hit or field ever since. Even if the boot comes off next week, the Twins will probably ramp him up slowly, since he hasn’t seen live pitching for so long.
Still, Baldelli said, Sano has one positive fact in his favor: His offseason conditioning program has left him in good shape.
“He’s put himself in a great spot physically,” Baldelli said. “Once he gets back out there, I wouldn’t assume it’s going to be an excessive period of time to work himself back in shape, because he came in in such good shape.”
Everything but his right foot.
“It’s showing a lot of healing,” Leo said, “just not to the point yet that we can put him out for full activity, with hitting, running, fielding everything else like that. You don’t want to have the wound reopen. It’s not fully closed yet. We’ve got to be very protective of that area, down by the Achilles.”
Sano has long since grown tired of not being able to hit or field.
“Yeah, it’s a little frustrating, I would say, because I worked really hard in the offseason,” he said. “But it’s just a setback, and we’ll get it going next week.”
Gonzalez to debut soon
After a couple of days working with the minor leaguers in order to see more live pitching, Marwin Gonzalez was in the Twins clubhouse Thursday morning. He will be in their lineup in the next day or two, too.
“We’re going to see him out there in games very soon,” Baldelli said. The Twins have a pair of split-squad games on Sunday, and Baldelli said Gonzalez will definitely take part in one of them, but “he might actually play before that. … He came in in great shape, so it’s not taking him very long to readjust.”
The Twins signed Michael Pineda to a contract more than 14 months ago. On Friday, they will watch him pitch in a Twins uniform for the first time, taking the mound against the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium.
“We’re going to send him out there, work off of some basic pitch counts,” Baldelli said of the veteran righthander, who missed the 2018 season as he rehabbed from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. “Let’s see how the outing goes.”