Twins’ Miguel Sano slowly resumes baseball activity

By John Shipley

St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Miguel Sano hit off a tee Monday, Sept. 4, in St. Petersburg, his first baseball activity since he was sidelined by a foul tip off his left shin on Aug. 19, manager Paul Molitor told reporters prior to Monday night’s game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

“It’s getting closer to a day-to-day situation, but we’re not there yet,” Molitor said. “We’ve still got a ways to go.”

Sano, on the disabled list with a stress reaction, has missed 15 games, during which the Twins were 9-6. The third baseman is batting .267 with a team-leading 28 home runs, and is tied with second baseman Brian Dozier with a team-leading 77 RBIs.

“He hit off the tee today, which is first baseball activity in a couple of weeks,” Molitor said. “He handled it really well, and we’ll try to increase his baseball activities throughout the week if the leg allows him to do that. Possibly, if he doesn’t have any setbacks, we’ll try to get some batting practice here over the next couple of days.”

Sano has been replaced at third by Eduardo Escobar, who has four home runs and 14 RBIs in those 15 games, during which the Twins’ offense has averaged 7.1 runs a game. So, if and when Sano returns, it likely will be as a designated hitter.

“If he can progress the baseball skills, it’s just a matter of seeing if we can get him to jog a little bit and build up to where the can get around the bases, enough to maybe start think about how he can contribute,” Molitor said.

Still searching

The Twins are still trying to figure out how to use Glen Perkins, the former closer from Stillwater who returned from major shoulder surgery last month.

A former starter who was the Big Ten’s pitcher of the year as a Minnesota senior, Perkins moved to the bullpen, found more velocity on his fastball and became a three-time all-star. Since returning, that velocity — which sometimes hit the high 90s — has been peaking around 93 mph.

He has given up four earned runs on seven hits and a walk in three innings since returning. Heading into Monday night’s game, he hadn’t pitched since Aug. 30, when he gave up a run on two hits in an 11-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

“He’s active and ready to pitch,” Molitor said. “It’s a little different version of Glen Perkins, and we’re just trying to find opportunities for him to gain confidence in what he brings out there each day. He does have experience, which is helpful; there just haven’t been many high-leverage situations I felt comfortable enough to put him into. We’re trying to get him to that point.”

Santiago watch

Left-hander Hector Santiago was placed on the 60-day disabled list over the weekend, and the Twins aren’t sure what’s next. Molitor said Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey has been talking to Santiago’s agent about possible next steps.

“From what I’ve heard, he’s still having a little bit of issues somewhere in the back of the neck, upper shoulder area. I think his arm feels fine,” Molitor said. “But he’s not throwing the way we know he’s capable, so we’re going to try to figure out what the next course should be.”

Santiago, 29, is 4-8 with a 5.63 earned-run average in 15 appearances, 14 of them starts, but hasn’t pitched since July 2.

New additions?

With the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings eliminated from postseason play on Sunday, the Twins appear ready to bring outfielder/designated hitter Robbie Grossman back. He was on a rehab assignment after breaking his thumb in an outfield collision with center fielder Byron Buxton on Aug. 17.

That might be it for additions.

The Twins recalled right-hander Aaron Slegers to pitch Wednesday’s matinee against the Rays, and already had recalled left-handers Nik Turley and Buddy Bosheers from Rochester.