Sano making permanent move to outfield

Molitor says former third baseman would return to old position only in case of injury

February 24th, 2016

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins appear to be going all in on Miguel Sano's move to right field, as manager Paul Molitor said on Wednesday that -- barring an injury to Trevor Plouffe -- Sano isn't expected to see time at his former third-base position.

It was the first time the Twins indicated that Sano isn't expected to play third base at all this year, as it had been assumed that he'd at least see some time there when Plouffe needed a day off. Eduardo Nunez is expected to be the primary backup third baseman.

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"Unless something happens where either we made a huge mistake in judgment, which I don't think is going to happen, or injuries hit us hard and we have to do some shuffling. But I would hope to avoid that," Molitor said. "Sometimes you've got to make changes according to how things go."

Molitor said he's most concerned with Sano staying healthy, as there aren't many players with similar body types who have made the transition from infielder to outfielder. Sano, 22, is athletic, but he's also 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. He dealt with a strained hamstring most of September last year, which he sustained while serving as a designated hitter.

"I think his body type concerns me in that, 'Are we going to be able to keep him on the field?'" Molitor said. "I wouldn't say he's an injury-prone guy, but he's a big-muscled guy. It's going to be a demanding thing for him to get out there and run around, and coming on and off the field nine times a day, it's going to be an adjustment. I think we're going to have to try to monitor him and how he's doing handling the demands of what being an outfielder is going to be."

Molitor, 59, has been around professional baseball since he was drafted by the Brewers in 1977, and even he had trouble coming up with players with similar body types who made the move to the outfield. A few of the examples that were mentioned were Adam Dunn, Carlos Lee and Greg Luzinski, but not many other examples came to mind.

"Just the conversation for the last 30 seconds tells you you've got to go back 30 to 40 years to even find a handful of guys that even come close to that," Molitor said.

But Molitor added he's not overly concerned with Sano's weight despite the fact he dropped only roughly five pounds this offseason, as he said he's a naturally big guy and isn't carrying much excess weight.

"I'm not that concerned," Molitor said. "I look at the body fat numbers. We're OK with where he's at. He's accountable at the end of the day for how that happens."

Worth noting

• Plouffe and Nunez both arrived to Twins camp on Tuesday, or two days before position players are required to report. Plouffe joked he was proud to beat Brian Dozier to camp, as the All-Star second baseman is one of only a few position players who are yet to report.

• Molitor said he plans on playing Korean slugger Byung Ho Park more than others once the Grapefruit League starts, as he wants him to get as many at-bats as he can to adjust to Major League pitching.

• The Twins announced the creation of the Junior Twins grant program, which will award $125,000 in grants to youth baseball and softball organizations in 2016. It includes three-year grants worth $5,000.