Miguel Sano flexed and looked into the camera as his Zoom interview ended Wednesday.
“King Kong is back,” the Twins first baseman said. “Put it on the board — 30 bombas!”
Thirty home runs in the abbreviated 60-game season would be quite a feat, but Sano was clearly happy to participate in Twins workouts for the first time this summer.
The former All-Star has been sidelined because he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 1 as the team gathered in Minneapolis. He was cleared to return Tuesday after two negative tests.
“I never felt any symptoms,” he said. “I just came here and got my test and got a positive. … I never got the flu. I never found it hard to breathe, anything like that.”
Sano said he remained in the basement, where he could work out, while his wife, son, brother and strength coach stayed upstairs in his house.
“I used to cry in bed at night missing my family and the people around me because I had to be by myself to protect them as well,” he said. “That was a hard process. I was working in my basement, doing some agility stuff. I was hitting off the tee. I tried to put a little more effort when I could every day to get myself ready to come back here.”
Teammate Willians Astudillo, who also tested positive and was asymptomatic, has not yet been cleared to return.
Sano is moving to first base after the Twins signed All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson and said he’s ready for the season opener July 24 in Chicago against the White Sox.
The Twins have Thursday off, but Sano will be in St. Paul with the taxi squad to work out.
“I don’t have any limitations on anything,” he said. “I’m ready to go, 100 percent. I feel great.”
His return Wednesday was emotional.
“That’s what it felt like when I saw my baby born in 2017,” Sano said. “That’s something special. That’s something when [head trainer Michael] Salazar called me [Wednesday] and told me the news, I almost cried and I called everybody in my family. It was a great moment for me.”
After a scare
Byron Buxton also claimed he’ll be ready for Opening Day two days after bruising his left foot and being carted off the field during an intrasquad game.
“I’m just blessed that it wasn’t worse,” Buxton said of twisting his foot while chasing a fly in center field. “I got ready to make that cut, felt a small little pop and definitely it was one of those things that didn’t feel right — kind of sharp pain immediately … it kind of just freaked me out.
“I’m a little sore, but Opening Day, I will be there. Nothing’s going to stop me.”
Buxton is coming off shoulder surgery, and wasn’t likely to be ready for the original start of the season. He had been sharp in the Target Field camp before his foot injury, and said he worked hard during the three-month pause in play while back home in Georgia.
“This little time off kind of gave me time to … work a little bit harder on my swing as well,” he said. “I had guys back home throwing to me quite a bit, just to see the ball up there in live at-bats, so I worked most of the time during that off time.”
Buxton will rehab for a few days before the team leaves for Chicago.
“I haven’t done too much [yet],” he said. “I walk in the pool with the water and kind of take it day by day. Like I said, it’s pain management, so the less pain I have, the more I do. The more pain I have, the less I do.”
Zack Littell did something different during the long break between spring training and the resumption of workouts.
“I never threw to a catcher, actually, when I was home,” the Twins reliever said. “I had a net in the backyard that I was throwing in every day.
“Mechanically, I was able to just go out there and feel what I needed to feel and the biggest part was just staying in shape and exercising my arm every day. … [Now] I’m just happy to have somebody to play catch and throw the ball back.”