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Twins hoping for Miguel Sano ruling before spring training

Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field in Minneapolis on Aug. 17, 2017. Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins are hopeful of a resolution before spring training opens next month in Major League Baseball's investigation of allegations against third baseman Miguel Sano.

"Right now Major League Baseball is conducting their investigation," Twins general manager Thad Levine said Thursday, Jan. 11, during an appearance on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. "We've been asked to kind of stand down and allow that process to unfold. We're hopeful we'll have information back in a timely fashion."

An MLB spokesman recently told the Pioneer Press the league began its "review of the matter immediately upon learning of the allegations."

Betsy Bissen, a freelance photographer in the Twin Cities, posted allegations against Sano on her Twitter account on Dec. 28. According to Bissen, who has refused all media requests, Sano attempted to kiss her and forcibly held her against her will following an autograph signing session at a Minnetonka mall in October 2015.

Sano issued a statement denying the allegations.

Sano, 24, spent the holidays at home in the Dominican Republic but was scheduled to return this week to Fort Myers, Fla., where he is continuing to rehab from a Nov. 13 surgery on his left shin.

"Miguel is complying with everything Major League Baseball is pursuing," Levine said. "He's desirous of clearing his name as soon as possible. We're going to let that process unfold and hear from Major League Baseball, ideally before spring training so we have a full understanding."

According to a person with direct knowledge, MLB has made it clear to the parties involved that "there is not a firm timeline" and it will take "as long as a thorough investigation requires."

Penalties, including suspension and fines, are left to the discretion of Commissioner Rob Manfred under a joint policy with the players' union on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. That policy was announced in August 2015, shortly before the alleged incident occurred on the penultimate day of the regular season.

Six such incidents have incurred penalties since the policy was put in place, most recently last March when New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia was suspended 15 games without pay.

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was investigated in 2016 after an alleged incident with his sister, but no penalty was handed down after both Puig and his sister denied an assault occurred, no witnesses were uncovered and available video evidence did not support the allegation.

Outfielder Hector Olivera, then with the Atlanta Braves, earned the longest suspension to date under the policy, 82 games without pay in 2016.

"To my understanding, that process is happening in the back right now," Levine added during his appearance. "We will be able to update the public when we have information back but right now we're just sitting back as well."

Darvish derby

Free-agent pitcher Yu Darvish took to his Twitter account late Wednesday and suggested his list of potential landing spots is down to six teams.

The Twins, as expected throughout this slow-moving offseason, remain in the mix. Also listed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram were the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees, with Darvish adding, "I know one more team is in."

That team, according to reports, is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who acquired the 31-year-old right-hander from the Rangers on July 31 and got two nightmare starts from him (21.60 earned-run average) in a World Series loss to the Astros.

"For our marketplace, however this plays out, I think it's a real excitement and enthusiasm to see that players of that caliber are viewing Minnesota as a great destination at this time," Levine, who helped the Rangers sign Darvish out of Japan six years ago this month, said during his radio appearance.

That deal guaranteed Darvish $60 million over six seasons with another $51.7 million going to the Nippon Ham Fighters via a posting fee. Darvish's take alone should blow past that $111.7 million figure this time, with a six- or even seven-year contract being speculated. However, with Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb also unsigned among prominent free-agent starters, it's possible there will be some downward adjustment in those eventual deals.

The Twins have never guaranteed more than five years to a starting pitcher, that coming in December 2014 with Phil Hughes after a three-year, $42 million extension with two years and $16 million remaining on his original deal. Hughes has posted a 5.04 ERA and worked just 268 innings over his past three injury-plagued seasons.

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

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