Sano continues to rehab, but return is uncertain

Molitor says it's hard to predict when third baseman will be ready to play

September 21st, 2017

DETROIT -- Twins third baseman continues to rehab his left shin in Minnesota, but manager Paul Molitor said it's becoming more and more unlikely he'll be ready to return before the end of the regular season on Oct. 1.

Sano, who suffered a stress reaction from a foul tip off his shin on Aug. 18, continues to take batting practice and participate in running drills at Target Field, but it's been a slow process. Molitor said doctors continue to confer on whether Sano will be able to make it back, but for now the plan is to keep going with his rehab.

"We haven't talked about a shutdown date," Molitor said. "I think the right thing to do is just stay at the course. He needs to just keep doing his work every day and see when something might change. But obviously with 10 games to go, there's a very uncertain chance we'll see him before that last game against the Tigers. He's just got to keep working like he's got a chance."

With Sano's slow progress, it's also far from a guarantee he'd be available to play in a potential Wild Card Game on Oct. 3. Molitor has noted he's worried about Sano getting his timing back at the plate, as he's yet to face live pitching since suffering the injury. There remains a chance he could return as a designated hitter if the Twins were to advance in the postseason, but with no timetable for his return, it's hard to predict when he'll be ready to play.

With Sano out, remains entrenched at third base, and Molitor praised the switch-hitter for helping them remain in the race in Sano's absence. Escobar has slumped recently, but is hitting .240/.288/.512 with eight homers and 21 RBIs in 31 games since Sano was placed on the 10-day disabled list.

"He's done well," Molitor said. "It's nice to have a guy with experience who can contribute on both sides. He's played nice defense and had a nice run with the bat for the most part. So it's been a huge value, but it's not like you don't miss Miguel and his threat and how he changes the lineup. But you have to be patient with what he's dealing with."

Worth noting

• The Twins continue to make personnel changes late in the season, dismissing longtime international scouting coordinator Howard Norsetter. Norsetter had worked with the organization since 1991 and was based in Australia. It comes after the Twins relieved Class A Advanced Fort Myers manager Doug Mientkiewicz of his duties last week. More changes are expected, but assistant general manager Rob Antony and vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff both had their contracts extended.

• Molitor said it's hard not to monitor the AL Wild Card chase and see how other clubs such as the Angels and Rangers are faring. But he said he fell asleep before the end of the Angels-Indians game Wednesday night, and was deep into his routine Thursday morning, getting breakfast and going for a hike, before realizing he never checked who won. He joked he had to scroll through every score before finally seeing the Indians won to keep Minnesota's lead at 1 1/2 games over the Angels.