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Updated: March 2nd, 2014 11:10pm
Zulgad: Miguel Sano's surgery will be felt most at ticket windows

Zulgad: Miguel Sano's surgery will be felt most at ticket windows

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

Miguel Sano will be fine.

The angst expressed by Twins fans Saturday morning over the fact the third baseman will need ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow, created the impression that Sano's future is in jeopardy.

It's not. Not even a little.

The 20-year-old will miss this season and should be ready to go by next spring. 

It has become commonplace for pitchers to have the ulnar collateral ligament in their elbow replaced and, in those cases, the risk is considered far greater because their arm is their livelihood. If Sano develops into the player the Twins think he can, it will be his bat, not his throwing ability, that will make him special.

The baseball operations people at Target Field know this. And while they might be privately second-guessing themselves for not having Sano undergo the surgery last fall when he first felt pain, they also know Sano's missed season could be quickly forgotten.

This is not to say the Twins will go unscathed by Sano's absence this summer. In this case, though, the group impacted most negatively will be those who run the business side of things.

Sano, you see, symbolized something the Twins haven't had much of during a string of three consecutive terrible seasons. That is reason for optimism.

The Twins will be selling two things in 2014. The first will be the half-season long buildup to the All-Star Game this July at Target Field. The second will be the hope for the future that should begin arriving over the next two years when top prospects Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer and Sano join the big-league team.

It appeared to be a long shot that Sano would have made the Twins' roster out of spring training but it wasn't far-fetched to have worked under the assumption that he might have gotten the call in June or July.

Sano almost certainly would have been the first of the Big Three to join the Twins. Meyer, a righthanded pitcher, and Buxton, who by all accounts will turn into a star in center field, might have followed Sano to Minneapolis late this summer or possibly to start 2015.

Sano's presence in the lineup in 2014 could have enabled Twins officials to show fans firsthand that things would be getting better. Sano hit 35 home runs between Single-A and Double-A last season, and the power generated by the 6-foot-4, 260-pound youngster stands to halt some of the discussion about how difficult it is to hit home runs at Target Field.

The Twins had to be thinking that Sano might help them sell a few tickets and erase some of the apathy that now surrounds this franchise. You also have to figure that if it wasn't in the process of being manufactured, Sano merchandise would have been hitting the Target Field shelves at the first sign of success.

Now that has to be put on hold.

For those who run the baseball show for the Twins, this will qualify as a temporary inconvenience. But for those in charge of selling tickets, Sano's lost season means a lost opportunity to begin showcasing the future.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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