Sano reveals pain of infant child's death

Twins slugger lost young daughter in late 2014

Sano reveals pain of infant child's death

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- While Miguel Sano was enjoying a breakout rookie season with the Twins last year, he was also privately grieving.

Sano, 22, was dealing with the death of his daughter, Angelica, who was born in the Dominican Republic on Nov. 22, 2014, but died about a week later due to a heart defect, as first reported by The New York Times on Saturday.

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"It was really hard," Sano said Sunday morning. "When I was playing in Double-A, I cried every day about that. To be in that position -- to have my first baby die."

Sano was helped by the support of his family, including his wife, Daniela, his mother, Melania, as well as his sister and brother. He has a tattoo of Angelica's name inscribed across his right forearm as a tribute, and said he plays every game in honor of her.

Sano said it was especially tough on his wife, whom he first started dating when he was 15 years old. But after the news of their daughter's death went public on Saturday, Daniela told Sano that she'd like to try to have another baby.

"God gave me something special, but he took it back," Sano said. "So I need the support of my family."

The news of Sano's personal tragedy surprised some in the Twins' clubhouse, as some of his teammates didn't know what he was going through last year, including manager Paul Molitor.

"It was kind of kept quiet," Molitor said. "I didn't have knowledge of it at the time. It's one of those things he's obviously had to deal with. Those are horrific things, obviously."

But many of Sano's teammates at Double-A Chattanooga, where he started the year before being called up to the Majors on July 2, knew what he was going through, even if they didn't know all of the details.

Byron Buxton, who has long been linked with Sano as two of the top prospects in baseball, said he found out during Spring Training last year, and the two grew closer throughout the season as a result.

"I could see he was down a little bit so I just walked over and asked what was wrong," Buxton said. "And he told me. And ever since that day, we kind of clicked together. I've tried to be there for him and try to hang out with him. We just did a lot of stuff where it wasn't really off his mind, but it kept him from being down."

Buxton, the father of a 2-year-old son, Brixton, with his wife, Lindsey, said it's hard for him to think about what Sano was going through last year.

"Now that I got a 2-year-old, I could only imagine what that feels like to him," Buxton said. "It's tough. He tells me that he plays every game hard for her."

Twins general manager Terry Ryan was one of a few members of the organization to know about the death of Sano's daughter shortly after it happened, but said he chose to keep it quiet until Sano was ready to tell his story.

"Like anybody, the grieving period was a lengthy one for him, but it wasn't something I was willing to converse about for many reasons because it was personal," Ryan said. "I know it's out now, but all of us felt bad at that time. That's a tough thing for a 21- or 22-year-old man to go through, or for anybody. There's a grieving process and ultimately I don't think he'll ever get over that. I don't think any parent would."

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.