BREAKING: Sano to undergo Tommy John surgery

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Top prospect Miguel Sano will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will miss the entire 2014 season, the Twins confirmed Saturday.

Sano felt something in his right elbow while making a throw in Thursday’s intrasquad game, and an MRI exam on Friday revealed a high-grade partial tear of his UCL. After consulting with team doctors, it was determined that the third baseman needed Tommy John surgery.

Sano, ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect by MLB.com, will miss the rest of the season, according to Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony. The timetable for position players having Tommy John surgery is eight months instead of the usual 12 months for a pitcher.

“We believe the right thing is to go ahead with the surgery,” Antony said. “I still need to confer with his agent to get all the logistics regarding that but basically from everything I’ve gathered from our doctors and trainers, it’s an eight-month process from start to finish. He’ll hopefully be doing some hitting things four months after the surgery. We hope to have the surgery sometime within in the next month. He’ll have plenty of time to get ready for next year’s Spring Training.”

Sano, 20, said he’s scheduled to fly back to the Twin Cities and have the surgery next week but Antony said it still hasn’t been decided where or when Sano will undergo the operation.

Sano, who had a chance to make his big league debut this year, was disappointed about missing the season but was confident that the injury won’t hamper his career.

“When I come back, I’m the same player,” Sano said.

Sano was originally diagnosed with a strained UCL this offseason after playing in just two games in his native Dominican Republic in the Dominican Winter League. But after consulting with Twins doctors and Dr. James Andrews, it was determined Sano needed only rest and rehabilitation instead of surgery.

Antony explained that if Sano had the surgery in November, he would’ve missed most of the Minor League season, so the Twins were hoping he’d be able to play the whole season after rehabbing this offseason. He added that Sano didn’t reinjure his elbow, as the MRI results were the same from November, but that it just didn’t get any better.

“He might’ve been ready at the tail end of the regular season but if you can avoid surgery, any time you have that chance, he might not have missed any of the season,” Antony said. “So do you want to be back for the last month of the season or possibly play the entire season? It was our doctors and Dr. Andrews who agreed that it was the right course of action. So we don’t have any regrets on how it was handled.”

Sano, who hit a combined .280/.382/.610 with 35 homers, 30 doubles and 103 RBIs in 123 games split between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain last season, was cleared to throw at the start of Spring Training, and didn’t have any issues until Thursday’s intrasquad game.

The Twins were hopeful that it was just normal soreness or inflammation but the MRI exam on Friday confirmed their worst fear that the top prospect needs season-ending surgery.

“It’s disappointing for the organization but more disappointing for the player,” Antony said. “He’s a 20-year-old who is arguably one of the top five prospects in the game. Everybody has to deal with adversity in their career so this is a slight setback for him. But hopefully he can get this taken care of and come back strong and he’ll be back in big league camp next year at 21.”

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