There was a stir caused on Sunday evening when the Star Tribune website published a Jim Souhan column that focused on Miguel Sano’s expanding waistline. There was a similar stir caused in late March 2016 when Patrick Reusse became the first to write about this for the paper.
And the next time a column on the 24-year-old’s weight is penned there will be further angst expressed.
Make no mistake, that column is coming. Who will write it, when it will appear or in what publication I have no idea, but this much I can assure you: Sano’s weight will remain a topic until the Twins trade him, release him or he retires, or unless years from now he decides he wants to extend his career and gets serious about his health and starts to take care of himself.
Sano went on the 10-day disabled list Monday because of a stress reaction – the precursor to a stress fracture – in his left shin. He said it was the result of fouling a ball off the shin in Friday’s game against Arizona.
Souhan reported there are those in the Twins organization who are concerned with Sano’s size, whether or not it contributed to his injury. The column stated that Sano’s weight gradually has risen all season and is now well above the Twins listing of 260 pounds. In fact, it might be 20 to 25 pounds heavier than that.
Here’s the issue.
The Twins’ brass almost certainly has been concerned about Sano’s weight from the time Reusse’s column appeared to the time Souhan hit the send button on his column and that isn’t going to change. In fact, Sano’s girth likely was a topic of conversation around the Twins’ offices long before he put on a Minnesota uniform.
With Byron Buxton, the concern has been whether he’s going to figure it out at the plate. It appears that’s beginning to happen and, if that’s the case, we are talking about an All-Star for years to come.
Sano figured it out at the plate far quicker than Buxton, but his issue is pushing himself away from his plate. Baseball players who are prone to packing on pounds often do so during the season because of the lifestyle they lead. Games finish late, food is readily available and spending lots of money at a five-star restaurant is easy to do.
You can be mad at Souhan for bringing up the issue again. You can be mad at Reusse for broaching the subject more than a year ago or you can be mad a Sano for not getting himself in shape, not to mention making a joke of the Twins attempt to move him to right field in 2016.
But getting mad is going to do you no good and the Twins brain trust of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine likely realize that getting frustrated or fat-shaming Sano isn’t going to work.
Having covered the NFL for several years, the issue of being concerned about a talented player carrying too much weight is nothing new. When that player has average talent, they are subtracted from the roster because they are not worth the headache. But when they have the talent of a Sano, they are kept around because they are worth the headache.
Obviously, Sano carries far more than 260 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame, but yet he has made several dazzling plays at third base this season and he leads the club with 28 home runs and 77 runs batted in. Long term, he is almost certainly going to have to move to first base and likely will serve as a designated hitter more and more as his career progresses.
Is this the perfect scenario given what we have seen from him at third base? No. Ideally, Sano would have a great desire to keep his weight in check. Heck, ideally, he would cut down on his strikeouts.
But you don’t jettison a bat like this because he packs on the pounds or swings and misses too much. You get him a personal chef, you remind him that keeping his weight under control is key, you say your prayers that he doesn’t rocket past 310 pounds and you hold your breath every time he leaves your sight for an entire offseason.
When Sano returns from the DL and begins hitting home runs again we will forget about the fact we were told the Twins are concerned about his weight. We will go back to marveling at the Ruthian shots he blasts into the third deck at Target Field.
And those blasts are why the Twins’ brass will be willing to put up with being constantly concerned about the size of Sano’s waistline for years to come.