The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

July 28, 2013

Thoma column:

Miguel Sano on Tuesday hit a home run for the New Britain RockCats. The Twins prospect then took almost a half-minute to round the bases.

The Twins Double-A affilate then benched him for four games. He didn't play again until Sunday.

The benching of Sano — currently rated by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in all the minors — created something of a social media storm, as twits with 130 characters and less information accused the Twins of overreacting or even of trying to quash his home run production.

It seems likely that Sano was out of the lineup for reasons that go beyond the "pimping" of Tuesday's homer. In the one bit of original reporting on the incident I've seen, Patrick Reusse said that:

- Sano and the pitcher, Bobby Lanigan, had had a clash earlier, before the Twins released Lanigan;

- Terry Ryan, the Twins general manager, was at the game, saw the incident, talked with Sano afterwards and, in Reusse's words, "didn't like what he heard."

The slow trot was the catalyst, certainly, but such issues as comportment with teammates and respect for bosses may well have entered into the discipline.

Sano is hardly the first 20-year-old minor leaguer to get a disciplinary benching, and he won't be the last. It's part of the process of maturation.

But this one got attention because it was possible to focus attention on it.

It wasn't that long ago that the only information most Twins fans got about the farm system was what dribbles the front office fed to the metro beat writers. For the more intense fans, there were little snippets in The Sporting News and, later, Baseball America.

Today there are at least three bloggers, led by the estimable Seth Stohs, who essentially specialize in following the Twins minor leaguers. If Byron Buxton isn't in the lineup on Tuesday, it's on Twitter before the first pitch. There's a video of the Sano at-bat and slow trot on YouTube, so we can see and judge that. (But we're not privy to his encounters with Ryan and manager Jeff Smith.)

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