MINNEAPOLIS -- Miguel Sano is set to embark on the long road back to the Major Leagues, as he is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Fort Myers on Tuesday, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Monday.
The plan is for Sano to begin in Fort Myers and make stops at both Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Rochester prior to his reinstatement to the Major Leagues, meaning that his return to Target Field is far from imminent. He will start by playing in partial games while splitting time between third base and designated hitter and gradually ramp up to playing full games.
Throughout this process, the Twins have focused on making sure that Sano, who sustained the right Achilles injury in January, isn't rushed back to the Major Leagues. Baldelli noted that the Twins want Sano to reach an unspecified threshold number of at-bats on his rehab assignment before he returns.
"There are times where we’ve seen guys come back, miss a ton of time and just get a few at-bats and they’re ready to play," Baldelli said. "I don’t think that’s the right thing to do for a lot of different reasons here."
With Sano avoiding strenuous activity throughout Spring Training due to the slow-healing nature of the laceration to his right lower Achilles area, a large part of the Twins' patience with his recovery is to make sure that Sano can get back to the strong physical conditioning that he had attained through a rigorous offseason of training.
Tuesday will mark two weeks since Sano was first sent to Fort Myers to begin a conditioning regimen before his progression to Minor League games. Despite Sano's lengthy period of inactivity during the start of the MLB season, Baldelli said he was pleased with the third baseman's progress and condition as Sano gets ready to return to the playing field.
"I can’t say exactly what he can do now and what he can’t do based on what he was doing then, but he’s doing a good job," Baldelli said. "He's working exceptionally hard, and he knows that this isn't going to be a quick turnaround where he's going to be here next week. He's all in on the program that we have, and he does whatever we’re asking him to do and more."
Pressly returns to Target Field
Before he was one of the most dominant relievers in the Major Leagues and the anchor of the Astros' bullpen, Ryan Pressly's journey in the Major Leagues began in Minneapolis in 2013, after the Twins selected the right-hander in the Rule 5 Draft.
Pressly's career with the Twins ended with a trade to the Astros at last season's non-waiver Trade Deadline after he appeared in 281 games across six seasons for Minnesota. On Monday, he arrived at Target Field for the first time as a member of the visiting team and expressed gratitude to the organization that gave him his first chance in the Major Leagues.
"These fans, this stadium, this city, the front office, everybody over there, it's a first-class organization," Pressly said. "I'm very blessed for the opportunity that they gave me over there. I miss a lot of those guys over there. Over here, I'm having a good time and I'm ready to get back out there and pitch against them."
The 30-year-old right-hander was effective for the Twins throughout his career, with a 3.75 ERA and 282 strikeouts in 317 innings, but he has taken his game to new heights since becoming a member of the Astros.
Pressly enters this week's four-game series against his old teammates riding a 32-game scoreless streak spanning 30 1/3 innings, the longest scoreless streak by a reliever in Astros history and the longest active streak of scoreless appearances in the Major Leagues. Pressly has allowed only two earned runs in 35 2/3 innings since the trade to Houston, good for an 0.50 ERA.
Much has been made of Pressly's additional reliance on his dominant curveball and his ability to elevate his high-spin fastball since he joined the Astros. Pressly credited former Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston for much of the progress on his curve and also credits his improved ability to throw pitches for strikes.
"I think it's a little better than we envisioned," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "Even though we loved him going in, our front office did a good job of identifying him, the strengths. There's been endless conversations about the spin and the usage of the breaking ball and the elevated fastball, and he's throwing strikes now, which I know he struggled with early in his career. But we got him with the idea he was going to be a high-leverage reliever for us, and he's overdelivered."