Whenever Ervin Santana returns to the Twins - and it could be as soon as next week - he might not be the same pitcher.

Santana gave up just one earned run on Friday during a six-inning outing against Norfolk, but his fastball topped out at 89-90 miles an hour. That's at least three m.p.h. slower than he normally throws - and we have seen a couple 95's fly out of his hand too.

"I think we just have to get used to the fact the velocity is going to be down a little," Twins manager Paul Molitor said after tonight's loss to the Royals.

It's the years in your life, not the life in your years. Getting old is a matter of mind over matter - if you don't mind, it doesn't matter. But the fact is Santana is in his age 35 season and is coming off of a surgery ( I know, finger surgery, but it's still a surgery). A slowdown was inevitable. So we will see soon if he's crafty enough to pitch around it. With his slider and changeup, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

It's also possible that he gets a couple mph once he's back on the MLB bump. But the Twins are preparing for lower numbers.

Molitor said they have not decided yet if Santana will be called up next week or make one more start for the Red Wings. He only threw 66 pitches tonight, so he might need another start just to build his endurance.

"I'm sure we'll talk through it in the short term," Molitor said.

Here's one report on Santana's outing. He sounds like he's ready to return.

The following is an extra note that didn't make the dead tree edition:

Berrios beaming

Twins righthander Jose Berrios remains in post-All-Star Game hubris. In addition to facing fellow Puerto Ricans Javier Baez and Yadier Molina during a scoreless fifth inning, Berrios had a chance to talk shop with a couple All-Stars.

Berrios dressed next to White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, so it was easy to strike up a conversation with him. But one player Berrios made a point of reaching out to was Red Sox lefthander Chris Sale.

"Every year, he is one of the best in the game," Berrios said,"so I ask him how he stays consistent."

Berrios and his immediate family had a blast in the nation's capital. He had pre-paid for a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., during the break. When he couldn't go, he sent his parents and other family members while he took his wife and children to Washington, D.C. Everyone came out ahead.

"It was pretty awesome," Berrios said of his All-Star week. "I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed every moment I spent there,"

Berrios is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday at Toronto.

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