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Sano won’t play in outfield anymore for Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Miguel Sano outfield experiment might be over. Sano, who struggled in 38 appearances in right field before missing a month with a left hamstring injury, returned to the Twins off a rehab assignment and played third base in Frid...

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Minnesota Twins third basemen Miguel Sano throws out Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre to end the sixth inning Friday at Target Field. (Photo by Jeffrey Becker / USA TODAY Sports)

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Miguel Sano outfield experiment might be over.

Sano, who struggled in 38 appearances in right field before missing a month with a left hamstring injury, returned to the Twins off a rehab assignment and played third base in Friday night’s game against Texas at Target Field.

Twins manager Paul Molitor said third base and designated hitter is where he’d like to have Sano play moving forward.

“If I get into a situation where I would have to put him in the outfield, I would consider that,” Molitor said. “That’s not really my preference right now.”

It’s not Sano’s, either. The 23-year-old who’s listed at 6 feet 3, 262 pounds admitted he’s “happy” to be done in the outfield for now. Sano went through the minor leagues as a third baseman and primarily was a designated hitter as a rookie last season before the Twins announced he’d be moved to right field this year.

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“It’s good, because (Molitor gives) me the opportunity where I can play third base,” Sano said. “I’ve been working my whole life to be playing third base, and I feel really excited.”

Sano made three errors in 78 chances in right this year. He has yet to make an error in 32 career major league chances at third. Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Sano misplayed a few balls while in right field but added that was anticipated. He said Sano’s arm made a positive impact in the outfield.

“For me, his defense in right field ... was adequate,” general manager Terry Ryan said. “It wasn’t great, no one’s admitting that.”

Ryan said with Minnesota’s current roster situation with Max Kepler playing well in right field, it makes sense to keep Sano in the infield. Sano said he hasn’t been told whether he’ll play more third base or DH.

“It doesn’t matter where they put me to play; I’ll try to play my game,” Sano said. “Outfield, third base, DH, it doesn’t matter.”

Park sent down

Sano was recalled at the expense of Byung Ho Park, who was optioned to Triple-A Rochester.

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Park, who turns 30 on July 10, saw his batting average drop to .191 despite hitting 12 home runs in his first season since leaving the Korea Baseball Organization. He has hit just .123 with a .444 combined on-base/slugging percentage over the past six weeks.

Molitor said Park lost confidence in some of the things he’d done before coming to the Twins.

“He didn’t know if that was good enough to compete here,” Molitor said. “We think his style will play here. He’s got to clear some of that clutter and kind of simplify it a little bit. That was kind of my message to him this morning. Go back to what you know. You might have to make some adjustments, but don’t try to overhaul anything and hopefully get yourself back on track.”

In his past 30 games, covering 120 plate appearances, Park has three home runs and nine runs batted in to go with 10 walks and 42 strikeouts.

Last winter, Park signed a four-year, $12 million contract with a club option for a fifth year in 2020.

“We’ve all been impressed by his character and the way he’s fit in and the work he’s done to try to acclimate himself, not only to our team but to our culture, but it’s just been rough,” Molitor said. “I think he’s been really, really tough on him mentally to deal with some of the frustration that came particularly over the last three or four weeks.

“While he was understanding and certainly accepting of the situation, he’s going to have to go down (to Triple-A Rochester) and hopefully lessen the burden a little bit and try to get back to where he takes pleasure in playing the game.”

Related Topics: MINNESOTA TWINS
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