NEW YORK -- Miguel Sano is expected to be on the Twins' roster for the American League Wild Card Game, but he would likely be on the bench instead of starting at designated hitter, manager Paul Molitor said at Monday's news conference at Yankee Stadium ahead of tonight's game.• AL
NEW YORK -- Miguel Sano is expected to be on the Twins' roster for the American League Wild Card Game, but he would likely be on the bench instead of starting at designated hitter, manager Paul Molitor said at Monday's news conference at Yankee Stadium ahead of tonight's game.
• AL Wild Card Game: Tonight, 7 CT on ESPN
In a surprise move on Friday, Sano was activated from the 10-day disabled list and made two starts over the weekend against Detroit, going 1-for-8 with three strikeouts in what was a tryout to see if he'd be ready from a health standpoint to contribute in the postseason. He had enough issues with his timing that Molitor is hesitant to start him at DH over Robbie Grossman.
"It's been challenging trying to get him prepared in such a short window," Molitor said. "I think we're encouraged that he's going to be available tomorrow in some capacity. We're going to see how the workout goes today. Whether he's going to start or not, I still haven't inked it in yet, but I'm leaning toward having him on the bench."
:: AL Wild Card Game schedule and coverage ::
Sano missed 38 games with a stress reaction to his left shin suffered on Aug. 18, and he had been thought lost for the regular season until being cleared for the final series against the Tigers after meeting with two specialists. Sano had trouble with sliders and changeups in his return, but he did have a single on a fastball that had an exit velocity of 113.6 mph, which was tied for his third-hardest hit ball of the year, per Statcast™.
Despite playing in just 114 games, Sano was second on the team with 28 homers and hit .264/.352/.507 with 77 RBIs. When healthy, he is the most potent power threat in the Twins' lineup.
Sano ran in the outfield and took batting practice indoors at Yankee Stadium on Monday, but he didn't hit on the field and was not available to the media. Molitor will announce the official roster and lineup ahead of tonight's game, with rosters needing to be set 10 a.m. ET/9 CT.
• Right-hander Jose Berrios will be counted on as one of the club's primary relief options tonight despite never making a relief appearance in the Majors until Friday. Berrios threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings against the Tigers in that role, and the Twins are counting on him to potentially provide a boost in the bullpen. He wowed in relief in the World Baseball Classic, striking out Team USA's Giancarlo Stanton, Jonathan Lucroy, Ian Kinsler and Christian Yelich while allowing three unearned runs in the final at Dodger Stadium.
"I'm putting him out there for a reason," Molitor said. "He's got stuff to get people out in big situations, and he's young, he's inexperienced. I get all that, too. But he stepped up for us all year long. So if it comes up in the right situation, he's definitely an option."
• The Twins have historically struggled against the Yankees, as they were swept in New York in a three-game series from Sept. 18-20. It dropped the Twins to 9-20 at Yankee Stadium since 2009, and 1-8 since '15. They're also 31-78 against New York dating back to 2002 and were eliminated in the ALDS by New York in 2003, '04, '09 and '10.
But veteran first baseman Joe Mauer downplayed their record against the Yankees, noting the Twins have a young squad. Mauer is the only holdover on the postseason roster who was on the team the last time Minnesota made the postseason.
"Really, this team, it doesn't mean a whole lot," Mauer said. "I'm probably the only one that it means a little bit more, maybe. It's a different team, and they've got a different team over there."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**.