Twins confident in Sano despite shaky defense

Twins confident in Sano despite shaky defense

MINNEAPOLIS -- Throughout Miguel Sano's defensive struggles, Twins general manager Terry Ryan has maintained that he expects the 23-year-old slugger to overcome his issues and one day become a good defender.

Even though Sano has committed seven errors in 10 games since he was switched back to being a full-time third baseman, the Twins aren't ready to hit the panic button yet.

"If it continues, then you've got concerns," Ryan said. "Those are some plays that are no-doubters. He should make them. He's made some fantastic plays in between. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he hasn't been over there, and he's rusty and he hasn't played third, basically, for about a year."

After committing only three errors as a right fielder for most of the season, Sano has committed errors in each of the last three games at third, including two in Saturday night's victory over the Indians, when he dropped an easy foul pop-up and booted a grounder.

But as Ryan pointed out, Sano has made his share of highlight-reel plays as well, thanks to his plus arm and athleticism, which both show lots of promise.

Ryan has been of the mindset that the Twins should be more worried about Sano's bat, and that the glove would soon follow, and he reiterated that belief before Sunday's game. Sano has hit .265 with three homers and nine RBIs since his return from injury on July 1, but his season average still leaves room for improvement at .241.

"Once he starts hitting, I think the fielding's going to fall in line, too," Ryan said. "Most of the time, when guys hit, the defense takes care of itself. I suspect he's thinking too much about what's going on with that bat."

Twins manager Paul Molitor had a chat with third-base coach Gene Glynn after the All-Star Break about how they wanted to help ease Sano's transition back into third in his first significant action there in the Major Leagues, while being careful not to take too much of his time and not wearing him out too much.

Like Ryan, his confidence in his young third baseman hasn't wavered.

"He does have the attributes to play there, but you make a couple errors there early and he's a guy that needs a pat on the back when he makes a mistake," Molitor said. "I think he's strong enough to handle the fact that it's going to take some time to get a little bit more consistent over there."

Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.