Sano gets break amid struggles, hamstring issue

Sano gets break amid struggles, hamstring issue

KANSAS CITY -- Twins rookie slugger Miguel Sano was held out of the lineup on Tuesday night against the Royals to give him a physical and mental break amid recent struggles and his mild right hamstring strain.

Sano said before the game that his hamstring is getting a little bit better each day, but he's had trouble at the plate, striking out 11 times in his last 12 at-bats, although he does have two walks over that span.

"It's not injury-related," manager Paul Molitor said. "We like having him in there. He's been a difference-maker for us since we inserted him in the lineup a couple months ago. He's for the first time going through an extended period where he hasn't had the success he had early. So I think it's good to sometimes take a step back and watch, to where you can try to slow the game down a little bit. He'll have a good session today of BP, hopefully, and we'll try to get him back in there tomorrow."

Molitor, though, said there remains a possibility that Sano could be out of the lineup again on Wednesday to give him a three-day break with Thursday's off-day. But Molitor said it's also hard to keep Sano out of the lineup, as he's hitting .277/.386/.574 with 15 homers and 42 RBIs in 56 games.

"I've had that thought," Molitor said. "We'll kind of see how today goes. I'm not going to commit to that yet, but I have thought about tomorrow as a mental and physical break, and whether that will be the best thing for him going forward."

Molitor added that he's not worried about Sano going forward, and thinks he can get out of this rut. Sano showed better patience on Monday, drawing two walks.

"I don't think he's too far off," Molitor said. "He's just been a little overaggressive and the strikeouts are starting to pile up. He just has to get back to trusting what you do. So I'm not overly concerned."

Worth noting
• All-Star closer Glen Perkins, who has been out since Sept. 1 with a back strain, saw a spine specialist in the Twin Cities and could receive a cortisone injection. Perkins initially felt lower back spasms, but now it's more of an issue in the center of his back.

"It's become real specific in terms of where his pain is at," Molitor said. "It's doing better overall."

• Rule 5 reliever J.R. Graham remains on track to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday before a three-game series against the White Sox. He's been out with a right shoulder strain since Aug. 26.

• Rookie right-hander Tyler Duffey will have his turn skipped on Saturday against the White Sox, as Tommy Milone and Kyle Gibson will be moved up to start on regular rest with an off-day on Thursday. Duffey has a 2.67 ERA over his last five starts, but he has thrown a combined 170 1/3 innings this year after throwing 149 1/3 innings last season.

• Right-hander Ricky Nolasco, on the 60-day disabled list since June 1 with a right ankle impingement, has progressed to throwing off a mound. The Twins still aren't sure if he'll be able to return before the end of the regular season.

"We're still trying to figure out how we're going to go forward with him," Molitor said.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.