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Twins first baseman Miguel Sańo returns, albeit with a smaller role

In his absence, Luis Arraez emerged as the team’s primary first baseman.

Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field in Minneapolis on Aug. 17, 2017. Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field in Minneapolis on Aug. 17, 2017.
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports
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MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Nearly three months after landing on the injured list with a knee injury, Miguel Sańo is back. But the team the slugging first baseman came back to isn’t the same as the one he left, and his role on the team isn’t going to be the same, either.

In his absence, Luis Arraez emerged as the team’s primary first baseman. Jose Miranda was called up and, after a slow first month, has put together an impressive rookie season. Alex Kirilloff returned healthy, too.

So, where does that all leave Sańo?

“He’s going to get some at-bats out there, and he’ll be playing,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It might not be every day. It might not be what he’s probably done before. But I talked to him about it, and he’ll be ready to go regardless of what’s to come.”

That conversation, Baldelli said, was one that Sańo was receptive to. He responded by telling the manager that whatever he was needed for, he would be ready to do.

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On Tuesday, that was hitting ninth and playing first base against the Wisconsin Brewers in his first game back since tearing the meniscus in his left knee during a walk-off celebration.

“If I play, I play,” Sańo said. “If not, I help my teammates have everything they need. I’m a great person, a great teammate. I’m only looking for a ring, like everybody is looking for. I want to see my team win the World Series. Doesn’t matter if I play or not. We’re looking for that.”

Sańo played in 12 games between the Florida Complex League and Triple-A while on a rehab assignment, hitting .333 and posting a 1.217 OPS with five home runs while he worked on finding his timing at the plate.

Before suffering the injury, he was hitting just .093 in the month of April, striking out 21 times in 17 games.

“It took some time,” he said of refinding his timing. “I’m not a machine — it took some time to go out there and see guys, take some live (BP), and hit some balls. But I feel good now.”

The Minnesota Twins are well aware of what Sańo looks like when he’s on, the power and production he can bring to a lineup. They’re also well aware of the flip side, what it looks like when Sańo is in a prolonged slump and the strikeouts are piling up.

That said, Baldelli’s expectation for Sańo is simple, he said: It’s for him to work hard and be ready to go when an opportunity is in front of him. And whenever it is, Sańo hopes to take advantage of it.

“My biggest goal is to be healthy and try to go out there and compete with everybody and do my job and help my team, too,” Sańo said.

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BUXTON FEELING GOOD

Byron Buxton returned to the Twins’ lineup on Tuesday, nearly a week after having a platelet-rich plasma injection that the Twins hope will help promote healing in his right knee.

Buxton has been dealing with tendinitis in the knee since the beginning of the season, and the Twins used an extra-long all-star break coupled with this weekend’s two-game series in Detroit, which Buxton sat out, as an opportunity to try the treatment.

Buxton said he hasn’t felt pain in his knee since Saturday or Sunday, a positive sign.

“We’ve got so many options to try out and see what we can do. But for me, my goal is to play, so that’s what we’re doing,” Buxton said. “Anything we can do to help me play is what we’re doing.”

A day after playing in the All-Star Game — and hitting the game-winning home run for the American League — Buxton received the injection. He said he started moving around a bit on Saturday and loosened it up even more on Sunday to good results.

Buxton has been slowed by knee pain all season, but the Twins have managed to keep their star center fielder on the diamond through a combination of rest and other treatments. Buxton has also frequently appeared as the team’s designated hitter as a way to keep his bat in the lineup while lightening the load on his knee.

“He’s in a pretty good place. I do know he’s feeling pretty good,” Baldelli said. “I don’t know if the PRP injection or just the five days off of his feet are what’s going to help him more.”

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KEPLER FRACTURES TOE

Max Kepler suffered what Baldelli described as a “mildly displaced fracture” of his pinky toe on Sunday in Detroit when he was hit by a pitch. But the right fielder has avoided the injured list thus far, and the Twins are currently treating him as day-to-day.

Kepler said the injury would keep him out “hopefully just a couple of days.”

“The next couple of days will tell more,” he said. “I haven’t really done anything yet. Today is just rest and recovery. I’ll have more answers tomorrow regarding my comeback.”

BRIEFLY

The Twins officially signed first-round pick Brooks Lee, selected eighth overall, on Tuesday. The Twins have signed 17 of their 20 draft picks so far.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA TWINSBASEBALL
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