MINNEAPOLIS - If Miguel Sano has had an emotional month as Major League Baseball is eight days away from starting, it was hard to tell by watching him and listening to him on Wednesday.
For the first time in four months, Sano was back with his Minnesota Twins teammates at Target Field for Summer Camp. Sano had to go into quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19, despite not showing any symptoms.
Sano was his jovial self Wednesday, talking about what he expects for 2020 and even compared being back to the birth of his first child in 2017.
“King Kong is back. Put in the book, 30 bombas,” Sano said before leaving the stage.
He said he became emotional when a Twins trainer called to tell him he had tested negative, and he could come to Target Field to work out.
“I almost cried and I called everybody in my family. Great moment for me,” Sano said.
It hasn’t been the easiest stretch for the Twins slugger. Sano went home to the Dominican Republic during the Covid-19 quarantine period while MLB pondered its next steps for a 2020 season. He worked out and tried to cut down on eating, and appeared noticeably thinner talking to reporters on Zoom Wednesday.
Just before coming to Minneapolis, Sano had to clear up a legal issue in the Dominican Republic involving a possible kidnapping case. He said he was being blackmailed for money, and he was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing and is not facing any charges.
Ready to start his 2020 season, Sano and Willians Astudillo had tested positive for Covid-19. They had to go into self-isolation, and Sano needed two negative tests before he could see his teammates. He never felt any symptoms and was never sick, despite the positive test.
“It was really hard times, especially because I worked really hard during the pandemic in the Dominican Republic to be in shape for whenever they gave us the thumbs up to come back and play a season,” Sano said. “Then when I got here to the States I tested positive and it was obviously really hard. I had to isolate myself and I cried in bed at night missing my family and the people around me. It was a tough process but I’m happy that I’m back.”
He was all smiles Wednesday, even though he didn’t play in the intra squad scrimmage that felt like actual baseball. He participated in live batting practice, launching homers all over the park.
The only guy who might have been happier than Sano himself was Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.
”I think he was really happy to be back at the ballpark. I think he’s done a good job of following the protocols and suggestions that our medical staff had for him. I also think his teammates really helped in getting him through all of this,” Baldelli said. “This is not easy, it’s not straight forward, and some of it doesn’t always make perfect sense. He took everything, every conversation, every suggestion to heart. You can tell he came in as ready as someone could be having just gone through what he did.”
The Twins are hoping Sano is a key piece of an offense that can take another step in 2020 after setting the MLB home run record last season. Sano hit 34 homers and had 79 RBI in 105 games last season.
He’s also focusing on a position switch in a short season. With the signing of Josh Donaldson, Sano is moving from third to first base. He said he used Spring Training to pick the brain of Justin Morneau, and watched video of Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera.
He says he’ll be ready to go when the season opens next Friday in Chicago.
“I don’t have any problem with that. I don’t have any limitations or nothing. I’m ready to go 100 percent. I feel great, let’s do it,” Sano said.
That should be music to the ears of Twins fans.