Posted on May 15, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Minnesota Twins Miguel Sano
Image via cbssports.com

The Minnesota Twins received a dose of good news-bad news on Wednesday. On one hand, the club placed catcher Mitch Garver on the 10-day Injured List with a sprained ankle. On the bright side, the Twins were able to activate slugger Miguel Sano for his season debut. Sano missed the first chunk of the season with a heel injury. But he represents a potential X-factor for the AL-Central leading Twins.

The 26-year-old Sano has been on a virtual rollercoaster since making his big league debut in 2015. He was an all-star in 2017, hitting 28 home runs and posting an OPS of .859 in a breakout season. However, he failed to duplicate those numbers in 2018, hitting just .199 and receiving a mid-season demotion to the minors.

To make matters worse, Sano suffered a laceration of his Achilles tendon in January. The injury forced him to miss all of spring training and begin the season on the IL. But Sano was undeterred, working his way back from injury and back into shape. In 10 minor league rehab games, Sano hit .316 with two home runs and four doubles, registering an OPS of .943. He saw action at three different minor league levels and has convinced the Twins that he’s ready to return to the majors.

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Given what he did two years ago, Sano is potentially a major addition for the Twins. If he can regain the form he had in 2017, he has a chance to be one of Minnesota’s most impactful offensive players. The Twins have displayed a surprising amount of power this season, ranking third in the American Leagues in home runs this season. Sano could add one more big bat to the middle of their lineup and help their offense improve even more.

Thus far, Marwin Gonzalez has seen the team’s primary third baseman. But with a somewhat disappointing performance from Gonzalez, who’s hitting just .232, the Twins may give Sano a chance to reclaim the everyday job at the hot corner. In the short-term, Sano could serve as the DH with Nelson Cruz battling a wrist injury. Sano can also play the corner outfield, which could allow Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler to get a day off every now and then.

With Garver going on the IL, the Twins could certainly use Sano’s power right now. Garver has nine home runs this season, tied for second-most on the team. He’s done so while splitting catching duties almost evenly with Jason Castro. To his credit, Castro has also provided more offense than expected. But if Sano can pick up where he left off during his minor league rehab, Minnesota will feel Garver’s absence a little less.

Obviously, the Twins have been doing fine without Sano early in the season. Minnesota began Wednesday with the third-most wins in the majors and a four-game lead atop the AL Central. But Sano is a former all-star who has proven he can perform at a high level. After last season, he’s far from a guarantee to produce consistently. However, Sano’s return has a chance to make a big difference for the Twins, perhaps propelling them to another level.

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