WASHINGTON – John Ryan Murphy was impressed Saturday after watching Miguel Sano play third base for the Twins for the first time this season.
“Did you see that play?” Murphy said.
He referred to Sano throwing out Washington’s Anthony Rendon in the eighth inning when Rendon tested Sano with a bunt.
“I told you I had hands,” Sano said.
Twins manager Paul Molitor left the ballpark on Friday with Sano penciled in at third base on Saturday. Then he changed his mind and took him out.
But Molitor changed his mind again and told Sano that he was getting his first start of the season at third.
Molitor said certain events — such as Trevor Plouffe and Danny Santana being on the disabled list and the desire to get some lefthanded hitters in the lineup — led to the decision use Sano at his old position after the Twins maintained he would spend the season learning how to play right field.
“We have encountered some unforeseen circumstances with the start of our season,” Molitor said. “Including losing our most versatile player off the bench and our regular third baseman. I’d be foolish not to consider the possibility of Miguel coming back in, at least on a short-term basis.”
It is not a permanent move. “We’re not abandoning right field,” Molitor said.
Sano had taken pregame grounders at third for about a week. He played 421 games at third while coming up through the minors. “I wanted to play third,” Sano said. “[Molitor] said sometimes I’ll play.”
Sano added that doesn’t mind playing right field and wants to become a good outfielder.
“It’s good [for me to play],” he said of his right field experience. “It will help my future.”
Tyler Duffey is back but, apparently, not to stay.
The Twins announced that they will call up Duffey in time to start Sunday’s series finale after fellow righthander Ervin Santana was scratched because of a stiff back.
Duffey was 0-0 with a 1.72 ERA in three starts at Class AAA Rochester. He last started Monday, when he held Pawtucket to one run and seven hits over seven innings, with one walk and six strikeouts.
The Twins sent infielder Jorge Polanco back to Rochester after Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Nationals to make room for Duffey.
The Twins planned to take Duffey north out of spring training, but he struggled down the stretch and lost his grip on the last rotation spot. He was a revelation last season, going 5-1 with a 3.10 ERA in 10 starts during the second half of the season.
As for Santana, the Twins are confident he will miss only one start, after his back flared up following a bullpen session Friday. Santana said he was in the outfield when he bent over to pick up a ball and felt pain that still hasn’t totally gone away.
“Today I feel much better,” Santana said. “[Friday] I could not turn to the left or right side. Moving down or up, there was a lot of pain. Today I walk faster, so that is a good sign.”
The Twins decided to skip him a start rather than put him in a road interleague game in which he would have to swing a bat.
“He’s better [Saturday] but still not great,” assistant GM Rob Antony said. “We’re not going to put him on the disabled list at this point.”
• Detroit claimed Class AAA Rochester catcher John Hicks off waivers and assigned him to Class AA Erie. The Twins could be making room for the promotion of outfielder David Murphy, who is at Rochester but can become a free agent if he’s not in the majors by May 1. Murphy was 1-for-3 on Saturday but is batting .156 in nine games since joining the Red Wings.
• Closer Glen Perkins, on the DL since April 13 because of a shoulder strain, remains out indefinitely. He has not progressed to the point where he can begin a throwing program.
• Plouffe, on the DL since Tuesday because of a right intercostal strain, is still experiencing discomfort. This injury has been known to sideline some players a month.