Twins’ Sano stops Winter League activity to focus on transition to outfield

Miguel Sano has an important few months ahead of him. 

Jesse Johnson/Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the winter, there were discussions indicating that Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano was being considered for an outfield role – a change from the DH slot he held for much of his breakout rookie campaign in 2015. 

The latest wrinkle in this situation concerns the fact that Sano recently stopped participating in the Dominican Winter League and will instead focus on fine-tuning his outfield skills and conditioning his body for his new role. 

That’s according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com, who adds that Sano will more or less have to acclimate to the outfield in order to fit properly in manager Paul Molitor’s lineup – which will now feature Korean slugger Byung Ho Park penciled in as the new DH. 

GM Terry Ryan is quoted by Bollinger as stating that stopping Winter League activity was a decision Sano made himself – and the Twins didn’t object to that move: 

Molitor, meanwhile, stressed the importance of Sano making sure his body is up for the rigors of being an outfielder – which, considering his listed size of 6’4" and 260 pounds will definitely be an important goal for Sano in the coming weeks.

“I appreciate him playing,” Ryan said. “I kind of like the fact he's got some loyalty and got some at-bats. We have some things here we've got to accomplish for him making the transition from infield to outfield. However he thinks it's best for his interests, I'm in.”

How the 22-year-old phenom adjusts (or doesn’t) to the demands of his new role will be something to watch for the Twins as spring training approaches. 

“He's going to have to make sure that he is in good shape,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I won't say that he's out of shape. I think the DH-ing affected his conditioning maybe somewhat. But this isn't just something that we're doing on a whim. We have to get him to buy in and take it.”