April 20, 2016

Tuesday’s loss raises fresh questions about Miguel Sano as a right fielder

The four-game winning streak came to an end Tuesday after the Twins lost 6-5 to the Milwaukee Brewers at Target Field. Key to the loss were two errors, one of which was committed by Miguel Sano in right field which allowed three unearned runs in the fifth inning.

Center fielder Byron Buxton also committed an error late in the game, but for Buxton his error was more of an anomaly given his skills as an outfielder. For Sano, though, there’s real concern about whether he can play error-free baseball in right field.

Sano’s hitting skills are not in question. He’s a young slugger who is built to hit a lot of home runs. He stands six-foot four and tips the scales at 260 pounds. Given his size, he’s probably best suited to be the designated hitter or play third base — a position he has played before. The trick is trying to get Sano into the every day lineup, along with first baseman Joe Mauer, DH Byung Ho Park and third baseman Trevor Plouffe, so the Twins decided to put Sano in right field.

But can a 260-pound man really chase down fly balls? I’m not so sure that he can. And how many errors are the Twins willing to tolerate for him to learn the position? Not many, I imagine, and the pitching staff might balk before the front office decides to make a switch.

Some possible solutions:

-Put Mauer in right field: I know the Twins are loathe to put Mauer in harm’s way, but after Mauer recently chased down a ball in short right field and then showed off his arm by throwing out a runner at third base, I say the Twins consider it.

-Put Plouffe in right field: My guess is that Plouffe is faster than Sano, so give the third baseman a shot in the outfield and send Sano to the infield. However, Plouffe first has to get off the disabled list.

-Put Park in right field: Who says Park can’t play right field? The Twins have him slotted in at DH or first base to spell Mauer, but put him out there and see how he does. Could it be any worse than Sano?




Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.