MINNEAPOLIS -- If it were April, Miguel Sano might have landed on the disabled list. If the Twins were out of contention, they might have the option to rest their prized rookie for more than just a day. But with the calendar having flipped to September and the Twins in hot pursuit of the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card spot, Sano has proven too valuable to take out for an extended period of time, despite a nagging right hamstring strain.
Sano has been noticeably hampered on the basepaths the past few days. He had three hits on Tuesday, but a day later, answered bluntly when asked how his hamstring felt: "Bad." After a night game Wednesday in which Sano hit a home run and then couldn't do more than jog slowly down to first after hitting into a double play in his next at-bat, manager Paul Molitor opted to rest his designated hitter Thursday, although Sano was summoned as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of the Twins' 6-4 loss to the White Sox, flying out as the potential tying run.
"It's a tough thing right now with him. I know he wants to play, and staying in the lineup from here on out is the most important part of the equation," Molitor said. "A day game following a night game heading into Houston isn't going to make a huge difference. I can't tell you exactly that. There's no way to measure how much 40 hours might help."
The Twins can't really afford much more than 40 hours. Since his callup, Sano has put a significant power presence into their lineup and helped them stay in postseason contention. While Sano would likely benefit from more than a day off, it doesn't seem likely that the Twins will go that route.
"I don't think we are going to be able to find that out because I don't imagine him -- unless things get significantly worse -- that we're going to take him out for a week or whatever it might be that would get him better," Molitor said. "We're just going to try to monitor it and rest it a little bit when we can and try to find a way to get as many at-bats as we can from here on out."
Molitor said Sano was available to pinch-hit if necessary, and that he could've played Thursday. He expects him to be in the lineup when the Twins head down to Houston for a weekend series starting Friday.
"Every time he runs, I kind of hold my breath. It's not like he's got pain in his knee or his foot where it's just going to be there," Molitor said. "It's a muscle that if it tears or pops or whatever, then you're going to be disabled as far as being able to contribute, so I'm thinking today might be a day. We've got 29 games, realistically, how many can he contribute? Let's hope he gets the majority of them in there, but today, I'm going to go ahead and put him down."
Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.