BALTIMORE – Miguel Sano likes leading the American League in runs batted in, as he did before Tuesday’s games, because it gives him a chance to talk about his teammates.
“Everybody here is hitting really good. [Jorge] Polanco had a great day [Monday]. [Max] Kepler, [Joe] Mauer, [Eduardo] Escobar — everybody is getting on base,” said Sano, who said he didn’t know that his 37 RBI tied him with Seattle’s Nelson Cruz for the league lead. “I try to do my job every day. When the guys get on base ahead of me, try to hit the ball hard [and] bring them home.”
He hasn’t been doing it as much in May as he did in April, when Sano piled up 25 RBI, in part because RBI is an opportunity-dependent statistic and he hasn’t had as many opportunities. Sano batted with a runner on third base 16 times in April and came through seven times; he’s had only six such chances in May and has driven home two.
More are coming, though, according to Sano. “We’re playing really good. We’re hitting really good,” he said. “More RBIs, more team wins. I can feel it.”
He feels particularly good at Camden Yards, where he has homered three times in eight career games — more often than any park except Target Field and Tropicana Field.
“It’s a good ballpark for me. Good park for hitting homers,” said Sano, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Tuesday. “Low walls here. In Minnesota, that wall in right field is too high. If that wall isn’t so high, I probably put like 17 homers over it.”
Back to stealing
Brian Dozier stole second base during Monday’s game, and it signaled more than just the leadoff hitter’s aggressiveness has returned. It said something about his sprained ankle, too.
Dozier missed three games and was hobbled for a few more after rolling his left ankle on May 5, but talked his way back into the lineup by May 11. He was 6-for-8 in stealing bases before he was hurt, but was thrown out three times in a row shortly after his injury. That’s when he decided to wait a little longer before trying it again.
“Well, I’m getting this thing healed up. We’re getting there,” Dozier said when asked about his baserunning. “I don’t like to blame stuff on [an injury]. But I feel better now that I have in a little bit.”
Specifically, Dozier said, his ankle doesn’t bother him at all anymore when he runs in a straight line.
“Only a couple little things still make it act up. Cutting hard, rounding the bases sometimes,” Dozier said. “And driving the ball, creating that pop. But it’s coming back.”
Apparently so. Dozier hit a solo homer Tuesday, launching a line drive a half-dozen rows deep into the left field stands in the seventh inning.
More tests for Hughes
Phil Hughes underwent a magnetic resonance imaging test Tuesday, but doctors reached no conclusion about what’s ailing his right shoulder. More tests will be done Wednesday, according to General Manager Thad Levine.
Hughes went on the disabled list after feeling soreness in his right shoulder during his start against the Royals on Sunday.
Eddie Rosario was out of the Twins’ starting lineup for the second consecutive day Tuesday, the first time that’s happened to him all season. But the benching doesn’t have much to do with the Twins’ young left fielder, manager Paul Molitor said. It’s more about Robbie Grossman and the way he’s been hitting righthanded pitching lately.
Grossman has an .890 OPS against righthanders, and he ranks third in the American League in on-base percentage with a .417 mark. (Sano is second at .439, by the way, trailing only the Angels’ Mike Trout at .464.) And Molitor loved the matchup for Grossman against Orioles righthander Dylan Bundy, who started Tuesday.
The options, then, were to play Grossman in the outfield again, or make him the designated hitter, a position Kennys Vargas has been occupying lately.
“If I kept Robbie in there, which was pretty much a given for me [Tuesday], it was either Vargas sits two games in a row, or Rosie sits two in a row,” Molitor explained of his lineup. “It’s just a situation where you have to let guys know what you’re thinking.”
Grossman went 0-for-4 Tuesday.