FORT MYERS, Fla. (WCCO) — It’s here. The Minnesota Twins reported for Spring Training, and the team’s first full workout happened on Sunday after pitchers and catchers had already been there for nearly a week.
There is new-found optimism after the squad went into the final weekend of the regular season last year battling for a playoff spot. The end result was an 83-79 record in Paul Molitor’s first year as manager after three straight years of at least 90 losses.
One of the big changes this year is moving Miguel Sano, the slugger, to the outfield. It was done to make room for Byung Ho Park as a designated hitter. He’s getting some help with fly balls from a guy who spent several years patrolling center field and was a fan favorite.
There is no doubt that Sano casts a huge shadow in right field. Despite playing in just 80 games with the Twins last year, Sano emerged as a legit clean-up hitter with 18 homers and 52 RBI. The Twins now want him to be their everyday right fielder.
That’s why the recently retired Hunter is at Spring Training for a short time: To tutor Sano on every aspect of playing that spot. We’re talking about a 6-4, 260-plus pound presence out there.
“He makes adjustments well and that’s all that we need. A lot of guys can’t make the adjustment, and right away when you tell Sano he’s going to try to apply it and try to get better at it,” Hunter said. “Even when we came out here earlier during practice, everything I told him that morning he was trying to apply it out there in the outfield. You can tell the difference between a guy who wants it and a guy who doesn’t. He’s one of the guys that wants it.”