Twins’ Miguel Sanó sees decrease in playing time

CHICAGO — It was just over a week ago that Miguel Sanó provided one of the most exciting highlights of the Twins’ season thus far, blasting a walk-off home run to cap off the longest game in the majors all season, a more-than-five-hour affair against the Cincinnati Reds. Sanó started that game on the bench, […]

Twins’ Miguel Sanó sees decrease in playing time

CHICAGO — It was just over a week ago that Miguel Sanó provided one of the most exciting highlights of the Twins’ season thus far, blasting a walk-off home run to cap off the longest game in the majors all season, a more-than-five-hour affair against the Cincinnati Reds.

Sanó started that game on the bench, entering in the eighth inning as a pinch runner, of all things. The slugger has found himself on the bench with increasing regularity of late, starting only three of the Twins’ last nine games.

“I’m used to coming outside, running, doing my stuff in the cage and trying to prepare myself for the game,” he said. “I’m not playing but I’m ready to pinch hit or something like that. I’m still having my same mentality. Happy and I support my teammates in everything.”

With the returns of both Max Kepler and Luis Arraez from the injured list earlier this month and the need to find at-bats for rookies Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, Sanó has often found himself the odd man out.

It’s something manager Rocco Baldelli said over the weekend has been addressed with Sanó as his role shifts.

“He’s still going to get his opportunities and at-bats. And when he does get those at-bats, we’ve talked with him about just staying focused, being ready and going out there and doing a good job when we call his name,” Baldelli said. “He understands. No one is pumped up about not playing every day. No one is pumped up about losing some of their at-bats. But he fully understands the situation, and he’ll be ready to go.”

Sanó entered the day hitting .196 with a .281 on-base percentage and .437 slugging percentage. He had struck out 83 times in 58 games, though his 14 home runs trail just Nelson Cruz among Twins hitters.

“I still have my same mentality. I come here to work. If they want to put me in the lineup, they’ll put me there,” Sanó said. “If they don’t, I’ll still be ready to be there every day.”

GARVER UPDATE

Catcher Mitch Garver has started ramping up his on-field activity, but Baldelli still isn’t expecting the catcher back imminently. Rather, it’ll be “more towards the All-Star break, potentially after the All-Star break,” for Garver’s return, Baldelli said.

Garver underwent surgery at the very beginning of June after suffering what the Twins described as a severe groin contusion when he was struck by a foul tip in Baltimore.

“We are going to be conservative with bringing him back and making certain we do not rush anything,” Baldelli said. “Some of what Garv is dealing with right now does go beyond baseball and being a baseball injury. Some of this is stuff that we do need to make sure for his quality of life going forward and his general health, we do need to make sure that he is completely healed up before we start any strenuous baseball activity.”

PINEDA TO REHAB

Michael Pineda will take another important step on Thursday as he nears a return from a forearm issue that has kept him sidelined for the second half of June. Pineda, who threw a sim game on Saturday, is scheduled to make a rehab outing on Thursday in St. Paul as the Saints take on Omaha at CHS Field.

“It’s an important outing for Mike,” Baldelli said. “We’re very pleased with where he’s at physically. This will be a great time for him to go out there and throw some pitches, log some innings and get himself ready so he can get that good, full outing that we’re always looking for.”

BRIEFLY

President of baseball operations Derek Falvey said top pitching prospect Jhoan Duran, who is currently on the Triple-A  injured list with a UCL sprain, will have a shutdown period and then will rehab and rebuild, likely in Fort Myers, Fla. … Jose Miranda, who was promoted to Triple-A a day earlier, homered in his first at-bat for the Saints. He also hit a grand slam later in the game.