Sano struggling in return to hot corner
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan chooses to attribute Miguel Sano's recent defensive failings at third base to rust.Sano, who started the season in right field before being moved back to third -- the position he's played ...
MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan chooses to attribute Miguel Sano’s recent defensive failings at third base to rust.
Sano, who started the season in right field before being moved back to third - the position he’s played for the majority of his professional career - upon his return from a monthlong stay on the disabled list this year with a left hamstring injury, has accrued seven errors in 28 fielding chances over his past eight games at third. Sano made two errors on Saturday alone.
Sano had converted on each of his first 43 fielding chances at third base to open his major-league career.
“He’s a guy that needs a pat on the back when he makes a mistake and tell him to catch the next one,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I think he’s strong enough to handle the fact that it’s going to take some time to get a little bit more consistent over there.”
Ryan pointed out that Sano went about a year between consistent playing time at third. When he was called up last season from Class AA Chattanooga, it was primarily to serve as designated hitter.
That might explain Sano’s struggles as he re-acclimates himself to the infield.
“If it continues,” Ryan said, “then you’ve got concerns.”
Sano has the physical capabilities to play third - which he has often stated is his position of choice. He has good range and an elite arm, which he has displayed on bare-handed plays in recent weeks when someone tries to drop a bunt down the third-base line.
But each stellar play has been overshadowed by a mistake. Sano, who wasn’t in the lineup Sunday, dropped a foul pop-up on Saturday. That’s just one of the “no doubters” Ryan said Sano has missed.
Sano also hasn’t had the best year with the bat, as he’s hitting just .241. That might be occupying his mind and contributing to defensive lapses, Ryan said.
“(But) he doesn’t need excuses,” Ryan said. “He needs to concentrate more and make sure that he makes the routine play, just as he’s made a couple of those fantastic plays.”
Molitor said he and third-base coach Gene Glynn have bounced around ideas about how to make Sano feel better about playing the position. He mentioned drills that aren’t time- or energy-consuming and said they’ll continue to look for ways to help Sano’s defense improve.
“I’ve made a couple errors,” Sano said. “But I’m just not supposed to put my head down. All I can keep doing is working harder.”
Hunter has words
Former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter returned to Target Field on Saturday evening and made an impassioned plea for tolerance in these troubled times:
“Before I take my seat, I have to address these issues that have been going on in our country today,” Hunter said near the end of his
11 ½-minute, Twins Hall of Fame induction speech. “This is the United States of America. The word ‘united’ means togetherness. United we stand, divided we fall. A house divided cannot stand.
“We have seen a lot of hate being displayed. We are not born with hate. Hate is a learned behavior. HATE - ‘habits acquired through evil.’ Albert Einstein said, ‘The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but those who watch them without doing anything.’
“We have to take action and we have to make a change. But before we can make change in our country, we have to change ourselves and our hearts. For out of the heart flow the issues of life. Whatever issues your heart is having, it’s going to flow right into every area of your life.
“In order to change mindsets, we have to replace hatred with love in our hearts. We must love the one next to us no matter the color of someone’s skin, gender, views or religious preferences. Love others as you would want them to love you.
“I love all of you and I thank you for all your support over the years. Hunter, out.”
Earlier, Ryan said an open invitation remains for Hunter to rejoin the organization in a front-office capacity whenever he’s ready.
“That’s more up to him,” Ryan said. “He’s so involved with his sons. Whenever he decides the time is right, he and I will visit.”
Hunter has received similar interest from the Los Angeles Angels and the Detroit Tigers, his other former teams. Ryan said he has no intention of badgering Hunter for a commitment.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” Ryan said. “If I start badgering him, I’m going to get a call from his wife (Katrina). I don’t want to mess with that. Whenever he’s ready he’ll let us know.”