Notes: Sanó, Arraez continue to ramp up

July 19th, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- The big man is back in the lineup.

Well, was supposed to start at first base and hit third for Team Navy in Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage, before the game was canceled due to inclement weather. He still fielded ground balls at first base and took five at-bats in batting practice, his first swings against live pitching since he joined Summer Camp.

Sanó made some solid contact as he faced five pitchers projected to be on the club's Opening Day roster: Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Matt Wisler, Rich Hill and José Berríos. Sanó hit a sharp line drive to left off Wisler, but his loudest contact came on a foul ball off Romo that reached the top of the Budweiser Roof Deck in the left-field corner, a few feet to the left of the foul pole.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said that he wasn't on the field to see most of Sanó's action, but word made its way to him.

"I happened to glance at my phone and saw multiple videos sent my way of him hitting like a 1,200-foot foul ball," Baldelli said.

Sanó struck out against Clippard and Berríos, and he lifted a pair of shallow fly balls to left field off Hill and Romo.

Sanó had been sidelined for nearly the first two weeks of camp after he tested positive for COVID-19 during the intake protocol. He was first cleared to join camp on Wednesday, when head athletic trainer Michael Salazar informed Sanó that he had tested negative twice in a row at least 24 hours apart.

Sanó rejoined his teammates at Target Field that day, participating in agility drills and taking batting practice, but he did not appear in the Twins' simulated games on Wednesday or Friday. Baldelli said upon Sanó's return that the Twins would be responsive to Sanó's physical condition as they determined his readiness to play, and he initially reported that the slugger appeared to be in relatively good shape.

So far, so good.

"Miguel is actually doing really well, as far as just the workouts that he’s able to handle," Baldelli said. "He’s got a resilient body and he can come out there, and we know he’s dealt with a lot of, not cabin fever, but he’s been stuck inside for a while now. So we weren’t sure exactly what he would look like after the workouts, but he’s definitely come out of them well."

Arraez (right knee) participates in practice
The Twins had a brief scare involving starting second baseman during Friday's intrasquad scrimmage, when the 23-year-old exited the game early with right knee soreness during an awkward non-slide into second base as he moved up on a wild pitch. Baldelli said after that game that he expected Arraez to be fine within several days.

Make that one day. Arraez was taking grounders at second base as part of Saturday's fielding drills, and he was originally penciled into the starting lineup for the planned intrasquad scrimmage. He took several at-bats during batting practice with a sleeve around his right knee.

"He was treated, he was in the training room getting all of his stuff done," Baldelli said. "Looks good. No one had any real concern going forward with him. He was able to handle everything we threw at him, I believe, and looked fine doing it."

Buxton showing improvement
With Arraez and Sanó seemingly back in the mix for the Twins, only Byron Buxton (left mid-foot sprain) and Willians Astudillo (COVID-19) are currently unable to participate in games among the players expected to contend for the club's Opening Day 30-man roster.

Baldelli said that he is pleased with Buxton's recovery from the injury, which was sustained on Monday while tracking a fly ball, and that his center fielder is making "steady improvement" toward a return to the field. Buxton did not participate in workouts on Saturday, but he was spotted on the field without a boot on.

"We don’t have anything firm," Baldelli said. "Even speaking with Buck about everything, we’re gonna take it truly day by day. He looks good, the swelling has not become any sort of real issue. I think we made out pretty good in this situation, relatively speaking. I’m encouraged that we’re going to see him out there and really ramping up baseball activity sometime soon."

Baldelli mum on lineup
The Twins' split-squad lineups for these Summer Camp intrasquad games, as expected, are an exercise in an embarrassment of riches.

It's a luxury when the team can split in half and still present two lineups with Jorge Polanco, Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz batting 1-2-3 on one squad and Max Kepler, Mitch Garver and Eddie Rosario in those slots on the other, with a deep cast of quality bench pieces and top prospects ready to fill out the remainder of the lineups.

Those were the orderings in Friday's intrasquad game, and ahead of the regular season, Baldelli and his staff will have the challenging -- yet fun -- task of distributing all this power and production throughout one lineup. Without giving any of his plans away, the Twins' skipper acknowledged that this is a good problem to have -- if it's even possible to characterize this as a problem.

"I’ll be honest, I’m pretty comfortable batting those guys pretty much anywhere," Baldelli said. "I don’t see it as a down side. I’ve talked with each guy a little bit, early on in Spring Training, about this. [Cruz and Donaldson] are two guys that just want to play, just want to be out there. Of course, they’re going to hit in prominent spots in the lineup, right where you would expect to see them.

"Looking at it and saying second and third, third and fourth, second and fourth, I don’t think there’s a bad answer there. I think those are all pretty comfortable spots and places where we can expect those guys to be hitting in our lineup."