By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Miguel Sano is an interesting study. Inside the Twins, they tell me he’s more focused, hoping time in the big leagues is changing his approach to a game that depends on respect.

“I’m working really hard,” Sano said. “I’m working on my defense, my mind, my body.”

Byron Buxton is supposed to be hitting that same stride. He is not. He’s trying to work through his issues with extra batting practice.

“Me going out there trying to get a better feel instead of thinking more about what I’m doing in the box and just getting more feel of it and be myself,” Buxton said. “Some at-bats speed up on me a little bit and get a little tough for me to slow down, so I just got to relax and keep the game slow.”

There is a school of thought that suggests he needs to master the bunt to get him out of the prolonged slumps. Easier said than done — the bunt is as much art
as science, and he’s still getting a feel.

“That’s something I work on every day with [manager Paul Molitor] and [bench coach Joe Vavra] and the other guys, so I mean, just something I got to keep doing more and more of,” Buxton said.

You sense Buxton could use a little more of Sano’s carefree outlook. He’s big, bold and borderline overconfident.

“He likes for everyone to know that he can move a little bit, which is a good thing,” Brian Dozier said. “We’re having fun in here. The mentality in this clubhouse is really good right now.”

Where they again differ is on defense. Buxton has been able to channel his frustration to centerfield — so good he stays in a lineup hitting under .100.

“The mentality that I don’t want nobody to get a base hit helps me out to be aggressive on those balls and to go at the balls the way I do,” Buxton said. “My outfielders and [Eddie Rosario] and [Max Kepler] and Danny [Santana], they’re more aggressive this year.”

Sano is a work in progress, trying to figure out how to play third base every day. He’s athletic for his size and needs to make sure he concentrates every pitch.

“I love [playing third base],” Sano said. “When I signed, remember, I played infield my whole life, so last year I play outfield and I don’t feel real comfortable. But, I come this year and play 162 games at third base.”

For Buxton, it’s about finding out if he cannot hit at this level or if his own demons are the only thing keeping him from stardom.

“They tell me people start out like this all the time, so, I mean, just got to battle and grind through it,” he said.

And for Sano — just don’t change much right now.

“He’s slowing the game down. I hope it continues all throughout the whole year and I believe it will, but he’s a special talent,” Dozier said. “Obviously the power’s there and a lot of other things, but when he slows the game down and has fun doing it, it’s fun for us to sit in the dugout and watch what he’s capable of doing.”


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