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Struggling Miguel Sano becomes latest Twins player to deal with hamstring issue

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals
Jun 21, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano (22) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Sano’s miserable start to the season got worse on Tuesday when the first baseman exited the first game of the Twins’ doubleheader at Oakland because of tightness in his right hamstring. Sano departed in the sixth inning of a 7-0 loss to the A’s and did not play in Minnesota’s 1-0 loss in the nightcap.

“We’re going to continue to evaluate him,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said after the Twins’ lost their third consecutive game. “He was in the training room getting some work done, (and) he was not playing in the second game based on what we had found so far. We’ll see how he’s doing (Wednesday) and then we have an off day coming up, too. I can’t tell you I know what we’re going to end up with (when it comes to) Miguel’s hamstring.”

Sano, who is hitting only .111/.310/.244 with two home runs and four RBIs, is the third Twins player to suffer a hamstring injury this season. Third baseman Josh Donaldson injured his right hamstring running to second on a double in his first at-bat of the season. Donaldson ended up on the 10-day injured list and returned to the lineup last week against Boston. Center fielder Byron Buxton also missed four games last week because of a right hamstring strain, returning on Tuesday to play in both games.

Buxton had been scheduled to play Saturday against the Angels in Anaheim, but Minnesota’s games on Saturday and Sunday against Los Angeles were postponed because of the Twins’ issues with COVID-19. The Twins also had their game Monday in Oakland postponed. It was made up Tuesday. Right fielder Max Kepler, left fielder Kyle Garlick and reliever Caleb Thielbar all went on the COVID injured list Tuesday, joining shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who did not make the trip.

With Sano unable to play first base in the second game Tuesday, catcher Mitch Garver started at first. The Twins could have called up prospect Alex Kirilloff, who can play left field and first base, but reportedly did not want to have him fly commercially to Oakland during a pandemic. Kirilloff could be on the Twins’ roster when they open a three-game series against Pittsburgh on Friday at Target Field.

Sano wasn’t the only Twins’ injury concern after Tuesday’s losses. Designated hitter Nelson Cruz was hit on the right heel by a pitch from Oakland’s Jake Diekman in the seventh inning. Cruz was in obvious pain as he went to first base before JT Riddle pinch-ran for him.

“He was limping a little bit afterwards,” Baldelli said. “I think it caught him pretty square. We’re going to get him looked at and he’ll be in the training room to get that evaluated. We’ll see what we’ve got there, too.”

Cruz went 0-for-5 in the two games Tuesday, but is hitting .348/.396/.652 with four homers and 10 RBIs.