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Zulgad: If Miguel Sano wants to reach his potential, it’s time for him to shape up


That’s not the word the Twins’ brass used as Miguel Sano and his “generous carriage,” reported to spring training this week in Fort Myers, but it’s what everyone from chief baseball officer Derek Falvey to general manager Thad Levine to manager Paul Molitor must have felt.

Levine began using the term “generous carriage” to describe Sano’s physique last summer and while it sounds amusing the Twins can’t be amused that a player who has the ability to become a superstar appears to be indifferent about reaching that potential.

The 6-foot-4 Sano continues to be listed at 260 pounds but that has become as comical as when the Vikings tried to sell us on the fact that former nose tackle Pat Williams weighed 317 pounds.  It sounds as if Sano is tipping the scales at closer to 300 than 260.

His inability, or unwillingness, to keep his weight in check is no longer a surprise and has become a continuing problem that at some point soon is going to make it difficult to leave him at third base.

Falvey attempted to explain why Sano showed up heavy, pointing to the fact Sano had a procedure performed in mid-November in which a rod was placed in his left leg in order to stabilize the bone in his shin. That came after Sano missed all but three games over the final six weeks of last season because of a stress reaction.

“No way around it – he went a period of time where he was immobilized,” Falvey told the Star Tribune. “It wasn’t an ideal offseason for him, clearly, from a workload or conditioning standpoint. … We’ve got to make sure to put him in a place where he can be successful, and that requires some conditioning focus.”

This is a creative attempt at spin. There have been many professional athletes who underwent offseason surgical procedures and still found a way to keep their weight down and do conditioning drills.

Sano will turn 25 years old on May 11 and is three years into his big-league career. He has 71 home runs, 195 runs batted in and an eye-popping 470 strikeouts in 310 games and 1,140 at-bats. He has the highest strikeout rate (36 percent of plate appearances) of any qualified hitter in MLB since he entered the league.

Sano played in 80 games after being called up in early July in 2015, and has been limited by injuries in each of the past two years. In 2016, he dealt with a hamstring strain and played in 116 games and last season that number decreased to 114.

Sano did not suffer the stress fracture because of his “generous carriage,” but it’s not going to help in his recovery process that he didn’t do something about the extra weight months ago.

The Twins, of course, have other concerns when it comes to Sano. He is still being investigated by the commissioner’s office after assault allegations were made against him by Twin Cities photographer Betsy Bissen in a December Twitter post. The incident happened in 2015 and Sano has denied he did anything wrong. It’s not known when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will rule on the matter but he has the ability to suspend Sano if he chooses.

Sano, meanwhile, is going to need to make a decision about his future and do it soon.

Does he want to be the guy who hits mammoth home runs, but ultimately is so heavy that he can only DH and thus never comes close to becoming the type of player the Twins hoped he would when they signed him as a 16-year-old in 2009?

Or does he want to take a serious approach to the game, get his weight far closer to the desired 260-pound mark, make himself into a third baseman for as long as possible and improve in all facets? Taking this path also means Sano is more likely to avoid injury.

The latter scenario would mean Sano’s appearance in the 2016 All-Star Game would be the first of many. The former means the Twins would be wise to start shopping him.

Sano has plenty of incentive to take that second route. He won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season, and if he wants the Twins to come to him with a lucrative multiyear offer before that he’s going to have to show a greater commitment to his craft.

If that doesn’t happen, Sano is going to be remembered as the guy who could hit the ball a mile but ultimately decided maintaining his “generous carriage” was more important than reaching what might have been Hall of Fame potential.


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