Posted on June 14, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano appears to have hit rock bottom. The club announced Thursday that Sano has been demoted to Advanced-A ball. For the time being, he will play for the Fort Myers Miracle in hopes of turning his season around. The move will allow the Twins to free up a roster spot for Joe Mauer, who will be activated Friday after nearly a month on the DL.
After a career year in 2017, Sano was unable to pick up where he left off this season. He’s currently hitting .203 with an OPS of .675. A year ago, Sano hit .264 with 28 home runs, helping him post an OPS of .859. That performance helped earn him a spot on the All-Star Team. More importantly, it made the Twins project him as an important part of their team in 2018. Of course, that prediction has not come to fruition.
Sano’s power has completely disappeared this year. He has seven home runs and nine doubles on the season. However, his productivity has completely dried up since the calendar flipped to June. In his last 10 games, Sano is 6 for 37 (.162). The Twins are hoping time in the minors can get Sano back on track and put him in a position to help them the second half of the season.
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“We’re going to get him down there and give him an opportunity to get things back on track,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We don’t feel like we’re getting what we need from him, and he’s going to have to get down there and get to work.”
It should be noted that Sano struggled with a stress reaction in his shin late last season. But after a full winter to heal, there was no reason to think Sano couldn’t pick up where he left off last year. He also missed most of May with a hamstring injury. However, Sano returned from the DL three weeks ago and has still not found his rhythm at the plate.
“I’m not mad. I’m happy, because I know I’m struggling, and (Molitor) gave me an opportunity,” Sano said of the demotion. “There’s no reason I can get mad.”
While Sano is in the minors, Eduardo Escobar should continue to get most of the playing time at third base. Escobar has been a revelation for the Twins offensively. The 29-year old is hitting .290 with an OPS of .904. Those are the kinds of numbers the Twins thought they’d get from Sano.
“He needs to be the guy we think he can be,” Molitor said of Sano. “He’s not there right now. We have to take a step backward here and determine the steps moving forward. But we like our coaches and facility there with a lot of things we can control more there.”
As it stands, the Twins are seven games under .500 and six games behind the Indians in the AL Central. But that lead is not insurmountable if the Twins can get it going the second half of the season. If Sano can get back on track and return to Minnesota and produce the way he did last season, the Twins shouldn’t be counted out of the playoff race just yet.