Miguel Sano's having the best season of his very young career.
The 24-year-old power hitter will set career highs for home runs (28, through 111 games) and runs batted in (77) this season, and both those marks lead the Minnesota Twins clubhouse.
What's more, with a resurgent Minnesota in the hunt for a wild card spot, those runs Sano's generating actually mean something: 10 days ago, Sano hit a two-run home run in a game where Minnesota topped the Detroit Tigers 6-4, and on Friday, he belted two homers in a 10-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Friday's game was also notable for a far less successful swing, when Sano foul-tipped a ball that clipped him in the shin. He kept playing, and was in the lineup again on Saturday, but was pulled midway through that game.
Sano was then placed on the 10-day disabled list, with what's being called a "stress reaction."
All of this makes sense. Here's where that stops: On Sunday, Star Tribune sports columnist Jim Souhan used Sano's injury -- again, the result of a ball hitting him in the shin -- to write about ... Sano's weight.
Perhaps his shin was too fat to get out of the way?
Here are a few choice lines from Souhan's opinion piece, with key passages bolded:
"The injury was caused by a foul ball. His recovery might be affected by the amount of man that shin must support."
"Sano is 24 and until this week he had not suffered any injuries related to his bulk, but even his strength and assorted other athletic gifts will not allow him to be the player he should be if he isn’t careful."
[Until this week... and including this week!]
"Then came Saturday night, when Sano hit a grounder to third and barely made it halfway down the line because of his shin."
[You mean the shin he hit with the baseball? The night before? When he also hit two home runs?]
"I’ve seen clubhouse attendants carrying in large bags of fast food before games."
[Were they for Miguel Sano? Why are we talking about these food bags? Or is this just a statement about the strength of clubhouse attendants?]
Souhan's curiously belly-focused column drew notice (and criticism) from NBC Sports, which called out the columnist for a history of "treat[ing] illness and injuries of sports figures as moral failings and evidence of poor character." Case in point: Souhan's newspaper once felt fit to apologize after he questioned then-Gophers football coach Jerry Kill's leadership abilities to lead the team because... Kill has epilepsy.
City Pages reached out to Souhan to ask what he thought of negative responses to his Sano column, and received this response.
"Did you read it? Can you show me where I said that Sano was injured because of his weight? Or are you just another guy who can't or won't read what was actually written but would like to have something to complain about?"
[Answers, in order: Yes; no; probably.]
What's maybe most interesting about all this is what Jim Souhan wrote about Miguel Sano days before taking on his weight. It's a small item, with Souhan praising a remarkable defensive play Sano made at third base, comparing it to Brooks Robinson, widely recognized to be the best defensive third baseman of all time.
So on Tuesday, Miguel Sano's in good enough shape to make one of the plays of the year, maybe one of the best plays at third base ever... Friday, Sano hits a ball into his shin... and by Sunday, his lack of diet discipline is a threat to the team's postseason chances. Got it.
On the bright side, there have been no further reports of big bags of food in the Twins clubhouse.
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