ST. LOUIS – Now that Byron Buxton is in the major leagues, the question is inevitable: When will Miguel Sano join him?
The Twins are discussing the notion, manager Paul Molitor said Tuesday. An abrupt call-up like Buxton’s? “Sure, it’s possible,” the manager said.
“It’s a realistic thing to ask about when you have people who can come up and help you,” Molitor said. “Every day that goes by, he’s closer to getting here. That’s kind of a general answer, but whether it’s in a couple weeks or September, we’ve been looking for him to get consistency.”
Sano was batting only .163 on May 6, but he has batted .320 with seven home runs and 31 strikeouts in 33 games since, despite a couple of minor injuries. He’s at .257 for the season, with 12 home runs now.
General Manager Terry Ryan reportedly was impressed with Sano’s progress during a visit to Class AA Chattanooga in May, opening the possibility of an earlier-than-expected promotion like Buxton received.
“We talk to the people down there about his at-bats, what he’s doing well and what he’s not doing so well, what will get exposed up here and what won’t,” Molitor said. “It’s nice to see that he’s trending into playing better.”
The question about Sano, as always, is where would he play? With Trevor Plouffe ensconced at third base, the 22-year-old Dominican would need to move, perhaps permanently.
“We’ve talked about that some,” Molitor said, particularly about the outfield. After missing all of 2014 following elbow surgery, the Twins wanted Sano to get comfortable at third base again, but “as he plays better, maybe we can look at those options. I haven’t been a part of those conversations over the past few days.”
Still, Molitor said of the 6-4, 260-pound slugger, “he moves better than people think he does, once he gets going. It’s a big body to get moving, we all know that. … I think he’s athletic enough to where [the outfield] wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.”
Then again, Kennys Vargas is 3-for-19 (.158) with nine strikeouts and no extra-base hits since returning from Rochester on June 8. If Molitor wants more production from the designated hitter role, Sano could be a solution, even if only a temporary one.
Santana set for start
Ervin Santana was scheduled to leave Florida and head to Rochester, N.Y., on Tuesday, in preparation for his first start with Class AAA Rochester on Saturday. He’ll make three starts before his 80-game suspension expires, and he rejoins the team on July 4.
And how he does in those minor league starts probably doesn’t matter much, Molitor said.
“I would think that if his starts go well in terms of health, and not so much results,” Molitor said, “when it’s time for him to come here and pitch, that’s what’s going to happen.”
The Twins will monitor the veteran pitcher, but almost certainly will move one of the current five starters out of the rotation to make room.
“We’re going to have decisions to make about how that’s going to play out,” the manager said.
A shot at their dreams
The Twins will hold their annual open tryout on Sunday at Siebert Field on the University of Minnesota campus. Registration begins at 8:30 for eligible players — high school graduates, college juniors or seniors, or free agents who are at least 21. All players will participate in drills and skills tests, with the best invited for an afternoon scrimmage. Righthander Mark Hamburger, who signed out of the tryout in 2007, reached the major leagues with Texas in 2011 and is currently at Rochester.