Post surgery, Miranda puts lost season behind him

March 8th, 2024

BRADENTON, Fla. -- For , 2023 was a lost season. Following a nice rookie year, the former top 100 prospect expected to be a middle-of-the-lineup regular going forward for an upstart Minnesota team finding its stride.

But right around this time last spring, Miranda suffered a right shoulder injury that limited him for most of camp. Then it lingered, and lingered and lingered.

Amid the injury, Miranda’s strong approach at the plate vanished, and his production took a nosedive. He ultimately was limited to 79 pedestrian games evenly split between Minnesota and Triple-A St. Paul and had surgery in October to address the impingement. Healthy again this spring, Miranda is now looking to hit his way back into the Twins’ plans.

“Thank God, I'm 100% right now and ready to go,” Miranda said after playing his first defensive innings of the spring in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the Pirates at LECOM Park. “[Last year was] super frustrating. I couldn't go to the World Baseball Classic, which was a dream of mine, because of the injury. Then the season started, and things weren't going my way. I ended up having surgery. It was a tough one. But you learn from stuff like that, and you get stronger mentally. Now, I'm ready.”

Miranda knows he needs to make noise this spring in a Twins camp pretty heavily stocked in corner infield depth and without many jobs up for grabs. Last spring, Miranda broke camp as the club’s Opening Day third baseman. But in the year since, Minnesota watched exciting young players Royce Lewis (third base) and Eduardo Julien (second) establish themselves in the infield, and brought in veteran upgrades at corner outfield (Manuel Margot) and first base (Carlos Santana). All should eat up at-bats that otherwise could have gone to Miranda.

Meanwhile, Miranda said he began feeling healthy again around December. He spent most of the winter rehabbing and training at the club’s complex in Fort Myers, working to refine his swing and lock in his timing so that when camp opened, he could hit the ground running.

He’s 6-for-13 (.462) with two walks so far this spring and on Friday played five innings at first base, his first defensive action since the operation.

“He looks stronger physically than he did last spring, and pretty comfortable at the plate,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He needs to go over to first base and handle that position, take ownership of that position. He needs to become a quality first baseman.”

Miranda said at this point, he needs to “flush” last year and focus on forcing the Twins to make tough decisions, adding “the past is already gone.”

“Work hard every day, put the work in -- that's the main goal,” Miranda said. “You want to put the work in and get healthy. And I think I got to the point that I'm healthy right now. And I just think if I'm healthy, things are gonna come my way, the way they're supposed to be.”

Said Baldelli: “I’d put him in a category with a lot of our young players who have ability and need to go out there and perform. That’s the point he’s at in his career right now, and I think he knows it.”

Around the horn
• Right-hander Louie Varland continued making his case to be a part of the club’s pitching mix with another strong outing, needing just 34 pitches to breeze through the first three innings. Varland held the Pirates to only two hits and struck out one while a group of 8-10 family and friends cheered from the stands, including his father and uncle, whom he called “typical snowbirds.”

So efficient was Varland that he threw an additional 11 pitches in the bullpen after his outing, and said he should be on target to throw around 60 pitches in his next outing.

“I came down to Spring Training ready to go, compete for a spot,” Varland said. “I’m not still ramping up or anything. I’m competing. I’ve got everything in top notch shape right now, and I’m ready to compete, not necessarily work on stuff.”

• The path to big league at bats is murkier this year for Trevor Larnach, who’s spent parts of the last three seasons in the big leagues in a reserve outfield role. But he uncorked one of his best swings of the spring Friday, launching a solo homer off Martín Pérez in the fourth. He added a run-scoring single later, as well.