Twins’ second-year player Miguel Sano is slated to open the season in Baltimore on Monday, April 4, as the right fielder. The Twins have stuck to their word since December when they announced that Sano would make a transition. During spring training, the Twins brought in a bunch of outfielders to look at and presumably came up with the top four—Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Oswaldo Arcia and Sano.
I think some players deserved more consideration. For one, Carlos Quentin had a decent spring, batting .250 with 2 home runs and 7 RBIs in 36 at-bats before he was cut. It is hard to compare since he was let go, but Quentin was actually outperforming Arcia at the time he was sent packing. Arcia, who had to make the team since he is out of options, has 54 at-bats while averaging just .204 with 6 RBIs. It seems silly that the Twins gave the struggling player a roster spot while not offering the more deserving player, Quentin, the fourth outfielder spot. The Twins just did not want to give up Arcia for some reason and that could prove costly!
Second, and more startling, Quentin’s performance could have landed him with the spot Sano won. This spring, Sano has struggled, making some glaring mistakes, such as overrunning the ball, taking bad routes to the ball and not running fast enough. His stats in the field perhaps do not tell the full story. Sano has started 17 games in right field the last month, racking up 1 error. Sano is weighing in at 270 pounds after trying to lose weight off-season. At his current weight, he likely will have a slow reaction time and probably won’t be leaping over walls or diving, like his mentor Torii Hunter once did. The encouraging part, though, is that Sano really wants to learn the outfield ropes and demonstrate his ability no matter his size.
By the way, former Twins star David Ortiz does not think Sano should play the outfield, as he recently said in an Star Tribune article: “The outfield is not for big guys. When a big guy dives for a ball, the whole stadium shakes. Every time a big guy is running and then dives in the outfield, he’s going to feel that for a long time.” Personally, like Ortiz, I wanted the Twins to try Trevor Plouffe in the outfield, however the team never let him test it out in March.
The Twins should not wait to long to make a change if Sano falters. The club has players waiting in the minors. With the addition of Byung Ho Park, the Twins could afford to move Joe Mauer, who is batting .282 with 8 RBIs this spring training, to right field. Sano could move to first base and share the duty with Park, who is tearing the ball apart in his first month with the Twins. The Twins always could bring up Kennys Vargas if need be. Another option: put Plouffe in the outfield and Sano back at third. After getting a sample of Sano in the outfield, this scenario would make me more comfortable with the outfield line-up.
The Twins, who are on a seven-game winning streak, are about to start this experiment for real. We may see bloopers, we may see great catches, but most of all, let us hope and pray that the Twins have a contingency plan!
Written by: Michael L. Ssck