Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
There are only a handful of prospects across baseball that have drawn more attention or discussion than Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano. The 20 year old reached Double-A during the 2013 season and figures to make his arrival in Minnesota sometime in 2014, but those plans might need to be placed on hold.
Sano experienced some soreness in his throwing elbow last season, something that slowed him noticeably, so when he began to experience the same discomfort following workouts this week there was an immediate concern. He reportedly underwent an MRI exam on Friday. Sano’s agent, Rob Plummer, fears that his client could have a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), as he told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Plummer apparently received a phone call early Friday morning from a concerned Sano, who simply asked “You think I should have the surgery?”.
"“If this was nothing, Miguel wouldn’t have asked me that,” Plummer said Friday afternoon from his New York headquarters. “I have a feeling this is more than nothing. We have to wait for the MRI to be read, but it feels like this is more than nothing."
Sano first strained his UCL while participating in the Venezuelan Winter League. Tommy John surgery was briefly discussed at the time, but the team ultimately opted to place their star prospect on a rehab program instead as the injury wasn’t believed to be a major concern. All accounts suggest that he’d been progressing as planned, as Berardino notes that the team performed an additional evaluation once Sano arrived at Spring Training before letting him begin a more strenuous throwing program.
Should the MRI reveal a tear in the UCL and he needs to undergo TJ surgery, Sano will almost certainly miss the entire 2014 season.
The chances were already slim that Sano won a spot in the Twins lineup on Opening Day with a strong Spring Training, but this injury concern that hope is likely gone. Realistic projections did suggest that he could make his Minnesota debut sometime later this season but until the team knows the extent of his injury its difficult to hold onto any expectations for the upcoming year.