"I can feel whether it's something big or not. From a couple years ago when I had the Tommy John, I felt a different pain."
Sano said he started feeling the tenderness in his elbow while practicing his fielding during the Twins' series against the Rays last weekend. The pain gradually evolved over the course of the series and has been an issue for Sano while throwing, but not hitting.
Sano, 23, made some throws before Saturday's game against the Royals after having his throwing limited in practices throughout the week, and manager Paul Molitor described the session as not great, but not horrible. Sano's last start at third was last Sunday at Tropicana Field, but he has since made five starts as the designated hitter. Sano was not in the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Royals.
"I want to play defense," Sano said. "I want to be out there in the infield, but I can't go out while my elbow's bothering me so I'm not going to force it or anything."
The Twins have been fine with keeping Sano as the designated hitter in light of third baseman Trevor Plouffe's recent activation from the disabled list. Rookie infielder Jorge Polanco, who entered Sunday with hits in 14 of his previous 15 games, has also made several starts at third.
"We've got an off-day tomorrow and we're going to make sure we don't put him out there in a position to play, and then find out that something maybe we aren't expecting," Molitor said. "I'm not in a position where I need to push him."
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.