Twins activate Sano after long injury saga

May 16th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- The day that the Twins have waited for since the start of Spring Training has finally arrived: Miguel Sano is back.

Minnesota reinstated Sano from the 10-day injured list on Wednesday after the successful completion of his Minor League rehab assignment, as the 26-year-old third baseman took the roster spot of catcher Mitch Garver, who was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left high ankle sprain.

"Physically, I feel really good," Sano said. "My whole body, mentally and physically. It's a beautiful year for us; the team is winning a lot. I'm here to play and help the team too."

And thus, the prolonged injury saga that began when Sano sustained a laceration to his right Achilles area in a January celebration parade finally comes to an end. The Twins will get a long-awaited first look at a newly transformed Sano following an intense offseason focused on his conditioning.

"He's probably just clamoring to get out there and play," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "It's time. It's time. He's put in the work. He put in the work all offseason. He put in the work all year. He's dealt with about as difficult of a situation he could probably deal with based on everything last year and this year. I'm extremely excited to see him step on the field and be ready to go, and I think he's even more excited than I am."

Sano was not in the starting lineup for the Twins on Wednesday afternoon for their series finale against the Angels, but he arrived in Minnesota's clubhouse an hour before first pitch and will immediately slot into regular action.

"He's going to be out there a lot, he's going to get a ton of at-bats, he's going to get days off his feet like everybody else is," Baldelli said. "I think we'll get into a nice rotation like we do have with all of our guys, but I think he's in good shape. I think he feels good."

Sano completed a 10-game rehab assignment and hit .316 with four doubles, two home runs, nine RBIs and three walks in contests with Class A Advanced Fort Myers, Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Rochester. Along the way, he said that teammates like Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz were in regular contact, with Cruz checking in with Sano on a daily basis.

Though Baldelli had initially said that Sano could see a longer stint with Rochester before his final promotion to adjust to more regular playing time, the Twins' skipper felt that Sano's physical condition was good enough to make the move when Garver's injury dictated it on Wednesday, after Sano had spent only three games with the Red Wings.

"I don't know how much more two to four games of playing in Triple-A -- I don't know what that was going to do for him, because I think he's physically doing pretty well and swinging the bat pretty good, too," Baldelli said.

Sano is ultimately looking to rebound from a step back in 2018, when he finished with a .199/.281/.398 slash line and a 38.5% strikeout rate across 71 games with Minnesota. The hope is that his rigorous offseason program has him on the right track -- and the Twins have waited long enough to see the results.

"I worked really hard in the offseason," Sano said. "Last year, I didn't work too much because I had problems with my tibia. I tried to come here to play the game, and I didn't feel really good physically. This is a different year, and I hope everything is good for my family, for me and my team."

"There are guys in the staff that have been waiting very patiently to see this guy out on the field," Baldelli said. "I've seen him play as a young player, so I'm familiar with him as a player. He's an ultra-talented person. He can do things that you can look around baseball, and it's a very unique talent that other people can't do. That makes it fun to watch Miguel Sano play."