The Minnesota Twins were holding their breath after power-hitting prospect Miguel Sano — ranked No.6 in Baseball Amerca's preseason prospect rankings — reported discomfort in his right elbow on Friday. Unfortunately, their worst fears were realized on Saturday when it was determined he will require Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2014 season.
Sano, 20, originally injured his elbow while playing winter ball in November. The diagnosis was a strained UCL, which the team attempted to rehab through rest and a conservative throwing program. The initial approach seemed to be working, as Sano reported to camp pain free. However, an off balance throw across his body in Thursday's exhibition game aggravated the elbow and left him no choice but to get it fixed through surgery.
“I think they had a plan and they followed the plan perfectly,” assistant general manager Rob Antony told the Pioneer Press on Friday. “That was just a matter of, ‘OK, we’re going to have to find out here. So let’s go, let’s roll him out there and find out sooner than later.’ And if he gets through a week of games and there is no discomfort, you might say, ‘OK, here we go.’ Unfortunately he felt a little something and we have to check it out and see where it’s at.”
According to the Pioneer Press, Sano's agent Rob Plummer spoke to his client on Friday morning and came away concerned then when Sano asked him if he should go ahead with the surgery.
“If this was nothing, Miguel wouldn’t have asked me that,” Plummer said Friday afternoon from his New York headquarters. “I have a feeling this is more than nothing. We have to wait for the MRI to be read, but it feels like this is more than nothing.”
It's definitely more than nothing, though if there is a silver lining it's that Sano's surgery won't carry the same 12-18 rehab time that pitchers face. He'll be looking at six to nine months in a best case scenario, which obviously wipes out this seasons but gives him a good chance to arrive at full strength next spring.
Of course, there's always that uneasy feeling when any player goes under the knife, but it's a little stronger with a player like a Sano. The Twins are counting on having his bat in the middle of their order soon, and for many years to come after his arrival. Will surgery set his timeline back? Will it affect his immense power? Will the Twins have to consider a position change?
Those questions are likely running through Antony's mind as he awaits the operation. He's probably looking at a few sleepless nights over the next few weeks, and many Twins may be joining him.
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