Twins hope humbling error galvanizes Sano

Young slugger encountering rough patch amid move to outfield

April 19th, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Considering Miguel Sano didn't have any outfield experience before this season, the Twins knew the 22-year-old slugger was going to face a learning curve transitioning to right field.

That inexperience was evident on Tuesday, as Sano misplayed a routine catch on a sinking liner from Scooter Gennett in the fifth inning of a 6-5 loss to the Brewers at Target Field, setting the stage for a tiebreaking rally that snowballed into three runs.

"There's never really good timing," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But, like we talked about in spring, there are going to be mistakes along the way. He just got fooled on that ball somehow and couldn't glove it. So I'm just going to encourage him to learn from it and not dwell on it."

The play happened with one out in the fifth, as Gennett hit a soft but sinking liner into right that hit off Sano's glove for a two-base error. Right-hander Ervin Santana was visibly frustrated after the play, then promptly walked Ryan Braun before giving up a double to Jonathan Lucroy. The next unearned run came around to score on a sacrifice fly, and after advancing to third on a wild pitch, Lucroy raced home on a passed ball for the third unearned run of the inning.

"It was a mistake on a low line drive," Sano said. "I lost it in the fans. I tried to stop it, but it was too late. But I'm not trying to make an excuse. It was a mistake. But it won't be my first one or my last one."

Sano said the key is to learn from the error, as he continues to work every day on his outfield defense with first-base coach and outfielder instructor Butch Davis. It was the first error of Sano's career, but it turned out to be costly.

"Sometimes, it's good to make a mistake because you learn from it," Sano said. "But I need to make every play in the game. I've been paying attention with Butch, our outfield coach. I'm trying to learn everything he's told me. But I don't have experience in the outfield, so every day, I'm trying to learn something new."

Sano went 1-for-5 at the plate, striking out with two runners in scoring position to end the seventh and grounding out to end the game. Sano insists the move to the outfield hasn't affected his hitting, but after his breakout rookie season last year, he's hitting .191 with one homer through 14 games. Molitor said the path to consistent success is simply a learning process for Sano, who is adjusting not just to the outfield but the way pitchers are approaching him this season.

"You can't hide when something like that happens," Molitor said. "You just have to accept it that's it not going to be perfect. He's a young kid, and when you're not hitting in the middle of the lineup, you feel like you're not doing your job. And then you miss a play like that, and you feel down a little bit. But you have to find a way to try to help your team try to win a game."