Slimmer Sanó ready to show Halos what he can do

New reliever Cisnero expects to be ready by Opening Day

February 25th, 2024

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Every Spring Training there’s always the running joke about which player came to camp in the best shape of his life.

But for Angels infielder , it doesn’t seem like much of an exaggeration. Sanó arrived at Angels camp on Sunday after dealing with some visa issues in his native Dominican Republic and said he’s lost 58 pounds.

Sanó, a former All-Star with the Twins in 2017, said it was important for him to lose weight in an effort to stay healthy and on the field. He missed the 2023 season with a cartilage issue in his left knee and an injured tibia but is healthy now and made his Cactus League debut on Sunday, scoring a run in a 9-4 loss to the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. The other Angels were held scoreless in 1-0 split-squad defeat to the Royals at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

“It was very important,” Sanó said through an interpreter. “I wanted to feel better and lighter. And that will lead to a better performance on the field.”

Sanó was a player the Angels monitored throughout the offseason before ultimately signing him to a Minor League deal on Jan. 23. Sano, 30, played in the Dominican Winter League, hitting .225/.346/.405 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 27 games with Estrellas. It was his first game action since the 2022 season, when he was limited to just 20 games with the Twins and hit .083 with one homer and three RBIs.

“He looks good,” general manager Perry Minasian said. “I understand wanting the shiny toys and fancy signings, but to be a good team you need stories, right? You need some guys that kind of emerge that maybe aren't talked about or younger guys developing. He’s somebody that we really liked going into the offseason. He proved that he was healthy, played in winter ball, played well and so we thought we should take a shot.”

Sanó, who played eight seasons with the Twins from 2015-22, came up as one of the game's top prospects after signing with Minnesota as a highly coveted international free agent in 2009. Originally a shortstop, he was moved to third base but underwent Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss the 2014 season.

But he excelled as a rookie in 2015, hitting .269/.385/.530 with 18 homers, 17 doubles and 52 RBIs in 80 games to finish third in the balloting for AL Rookie of the Year. After an ill-fated stint in right field in 2016, he bounced back and was an All-Star in 2017.

Sanó dealt with conditioning issues in 2018 and hit just .199 in 71 games, but recovered to hit a career-high 34 homers in 105 games in 2019. He helped the Twins to a second straight division title in the shortened 2020 season and hit 30 homers in 135 games in 2021. But '22 was another lost season as he dealt with knee problems and spent '23 rehabbing and working to lose weight.

“I’m just excited to be here and for another open door,” Sanó said “I’m very thankful to God to give me another opportunity in my career. I took these last two years to rehab and work hard and lose weight. I feel great.”

Angels manager Ron Washington was happy to have Sanó in camp on Sunday, but the Dominican slugger still has plenty to prove this spring. He’s expected to see most of his time at first base, but could see some action at third base and could be a potential designated hitter candidate if he performs well enough offensively.

“He looks real good and he’s in a great frame of mind,” Washington said. “But he’s no different than anybody else. He's gonna have to come up here and play.”

Cisnero arrives at Angels camp
Right-handed reliever , who signed a one-year deal worth $1.75 million on Feb. 3, also arrived to Spring Training on Sunday after dealing with some visa issues in the Dominican Republic. But Cisnero threw bullpen sessions at the club’s complex in the Dominican Republic and said he shouldn’t have any issues getting ready for the start of the season.

He threw a bullpen on Sunday and is scheduled to face hitters on Tuesday, so he should be ready for Cactus League action in about a week. Cisnero, 34, posted a 5.31 ERA with 70 strikeouts, 25 walks and 10 homers allowed in 59 1/3 innings with the Tigers last year. But he had a combined 3.26 ERA in 151 2/3 innings with Detroit from 2019-22.

“I chose the Angels because they gave me an opportunity and they have a great team,” Cisnero said through an interpreter. “I just want to give it my best and work hard for the team.”