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Steve Pearce exits game with lower back stiffness

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Steve Pearce didn’t make it out of the first inning on Friday. He struck out looking against the Tigers’ Buck Farmer and was replaced by rookie left fielder Teoscar Hernandez at the start of the second inning. A later report by the club revealed lower back stiffness, but a timeline for his return has yet to be established.

Pearce, 34, doesn’t appear to have a history of back injuries. He missed 110 days with a combination of calf tightness and a right knee contusion earlier this season, but has been relatively healthy since his return to the field in June and slashed .249/.320/.446 with seven home runs and a .766 OPS in the second half.

Following Pearce’s early exit, Hernandez went 1-for-2 with an RBI double to put the Blue Jays on the board in the fifth. They currently trail the Tigers 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth.

Miguel Sano gained weight this offseason

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Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:

Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.

They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.

Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.

Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.

So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.