CLEARWATER, Fla. – Jose Berrios was describing his four-strikeout day in the Twins’ clubhouse Friday, when an interviewer jokingly asked him whether he could strike out Miguel Sano, who was standing on the fringe of the scrum.
Before Berrios could say anything, Sano answered for him. “Everybody can strike me out,” the 23-year-old slugger said.
At the moment, he’s right. Sano whiffed in all three at-bats during the Twins’ 4-3 victory over the Phillies on Friday, giving him seven strikeouts in 10 at-bats this spring, not the start he had hoped for. But his defense has been encouraging. Sano ended one Philadelphia threat by making a nice pickup on the run to start a double play. And he’s still got the calendar on his side.
“It’s 10 at-bats — we’re hoping to get him 60 down here,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor, who made a point to walk to the far end of the dugout to congratulate Sano on the double play. “I don’t think he’s recognizing spin great yet. He’s had some good swings at fastballs, maybe just a click late. But [he has] the right approach, trying to stay inside instead of hitting everything to left field.”
In the absence so far of a Sano breakout, Danny Santana powered the Twins’ offense Friday, smacking his first home run of the spring, then sparking a two-run rally with a double. Santana, competing to be a backup option at six different positions, spent half the game in right field and half at third base, two spots he has manned only rarely in the majors. But it’s his bat that may determine whether he captures a roster spot, and it was his bat that proved most valuable against Philadelphia.
Santana hit a fastball from Jeremy Hellickson over the right-field wall in the second inning to tie the score 1-1. In the seventh, after Chris Gimenez was hit by an Alberto Tirado pitch leading off the inning, Santana lined a double into the left-field corner. Zack Granite drove in both with a single, putting the Twins ahead for good.
Second baseman Tommy Field also homered for the Twins, in the fourth inning off Mark Appel.
The game ended with a nice escape by reliever J.T. Chargois, who loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. But the righthander struck out Aaron Altherr, then fielded a comebacker from Logan Moore to end the game.