Does Jose Miranda Have A Second Act?

Photo Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

On May 2, 2023, The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman wrote a piece detailing José Miranda’s first 365 days with the Minnesota Twins. Minnesota had called him up on May 2, 2022, and he went 0-for-4 against the Baltimore Orioles. Since then, wrote Gleeman, “Miranda has carried the lineup for weeks at a time, battled through several lengthy slumps, switched and re-switched positions, brought his famous cousin to the park, found a mentor in Carlos Correa, and put his strengths and weaknesses on display in 153 games.”

Miranda was hitting .234/.298/.342 on May 2. He played six games after that, hitting .143/.143/.191, and the Twins sent him to Triple-A. Minnesota recalled him on July 2, and he went 1-for-10, dropping his batting average to .211/.263/.303. On July 15, the Twins placed him on the injured list with a sore shoulder. A day later, they shut him down for at least a week after he got a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right shoulder. On September 1, Minnesota moved him to the 60-day injured list, and the team announced he would undergo season-ending surgery 12 days later.

Despite playing only 40 games last year, Miranda maintained a presence at Target Field. His photo remained on light posts around the stadium and was still in team videos. There was also the unforgettable promise of his rookie season when he hit .268/.325/.426 with 15 home runs in 125 games.

But Miranda experienced shoulder soreness in spring training, which likely impacted him throughout the year. Royce Lewis also moved to third base after Carlos Correa re-signed, and Lewis hit .309/.372/.548 with 15 home runs as a rookie. Miranda was always a bat-first player, but there will be more pressure for Miranda to produce at the plate if he’s a first baseman or designated hitter.

“My swing felt kind of a little bit different,” Miranda said. “I don’t know if it was because of the shoulder. Something felt weird when I was extending my arms and when I was going to hit the ball. I can’t say it was all the shoulder…. It never hurt swinging, but it was really uncomfortable, but definitely, it was throwing where it hurt the most.”

In a year, Miranda had gone from an integral part of their future to re-establishing himself during spring training this season. “It was hard,” Miranda admits. “It was hard from the get-go because…you want to help the team. You want to have a great year. You want to establish yourself in the big leagues in my second year.”

Miranda first went to Alabama for treatment on Sept. 13. Initially, the doctors told him to stay in Birmingham for three weeks to see if they could avoid surgery. There, he worked with Kevin Wilk, one of the best physical therapists in the state. He packed a suitcase, rented an apartment, and tried to rehab the shoulder. “We started working on different stuff like stretching,” he said. “I was throwing during that time and then just trying to avoid surgery. But in the end, it just kept bothering me, kept hurting, and we decided that surgery was needed.”

On Oct. 4, Miranda had surgery on his right labrum and rotator cuff. “It was more of a cleanup,” he said. “I had some different stuff and some old stuff that I had already there that was causing all the problems in the shoulder.” Miranda has been hitting off a machine and doing batting practice, and he started throwing again two weeks before TwinsFest.

The Twins plan to use him at DH for the first few spring training games and gradually move him to first and have him play some third. The more significant issue is that Minnesota has a starter at each of Miranda’s natural positions. Lewis plays third, and Correa occupies short. On Friday, the Twins signed Carlos Santana to a one-year, $5.25 million deal to play first base and DH. That means Miranda is insurance for if Lewis goes down or Correa suffers an injury and Lewis has to move to short. He could also spell Santana, 38, who may occasionally need a day off.

Miranda has bounced back before. The Terry Ryan regime selected him in the second round of the 2016 draft, and Miranda only played one game above High-A before the 2020 quarantine. But he hit .344/.401/.572 in Double- and Triple-A in 2021, forcing himself into Minnesota’s plans. He’s capable of doing something special after a down year.

There’s an adage in baseball that a good bat always finds its way into a lineup. Miranda is a career .254/.310/.396 hitter. If last year was an injury-fueled sophomore slump, and Miranda builds off his rookie season this year, he’ll find a way into the lineup. However, if last season was a sign of what’s to come, he likely will seek a trade to a team where he’ll get more playing time. Miranda’s first 365 days were impressive. His next two months were trying. Next year will likely determine whether he maintains a presence in Minnesota for years to come.

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