Twins righthander Ervin Santana will make his 2018 debut on Wednesday in Toronto against the Blue Jays, the Twins announced this morning.
This comes after Santana went through a longer than expected recovery following surgery in early February to remove a calcium deposit from his right middle finger, the finger that helps him throw his slider effectively.
"It's going to be a little bit of changing it up in terms of where to slot him in," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We thought keeping him on his regular rest would be good."
In his last start for Class AAA Rochester, Santana held Norfolk to one run over six innings on Friday while needing just 66 pitches to do so. The Twins would have like for Santana to build up more endurance, but decided to reinsert him into the rotation anyway.
By using Santana on Wednesday, Kyle Gibson, Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi all will get an extra day of rest. Combine that with the recent All-Star break, and the Twins feel good about how their rotation is set up for the remainder of the season.
Jose Berrios, who pitched an inning in the All-Star Game last Tuesday, is getting six days between starts before he faces Toronto next Tuesday.
This ends a process that took much longer than anyone anticiapted. Santana even predicted he would be back on the mound by the end of April - about 11 weeks following the surgery. But he had trouble gripping a baseball for a couple weeks following surgey. Then he had trouble throwing his slider. Then his velocity was down in early rehab outings, and he continued to seal with some swelling.
The Twins stopped Santana's program in late May for him to return to the specialist, Dr. Charles Melone, who peformed the surgery. Santana was assured that he was on the right path to recovery, and resumed his throwing program.
Santana, 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA last season, could be a boost to a Twins rotation that has lacked consistency. Logan Morrison is off the DL and back in the starting lineup today. His immediate goal is to work on his.193 batting average. But Molitor got a little geeky while pointing out that Morrison was swinging the bat better before he landed on the DL.
"I think that anyone who just looks at the surface numbers obviously they could be better and the start didn't help," Molitor said. "I think over the last month the contact has been a lot better. Expected wOBA to real wOBA and all those kind of things, just tells you he's hitting the ball harder more consistently. And he's a guy who gets beat up by the shift a lot, the way he hits the ball.
"He wants to try to hit it in the air and pulls a lot of balls hard. And there's not a lot of room over there. I think that he's anxious to move forward and hopefully start bumping the numbers a little bit and hope to get a little better return."
Twins trying to avoid the sweep today against the lowly Royals
Joe Mauer, DH
Eddie Rosario, LF
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Mitch Garver, C
Max Kepler, RF
Ehire Adrianza, SS
Jake Cave, CF
Jake Odorizzi, RHP Royals
Whit Merrifield, 2B
Jorge Bonifacio, RF
Salvador Perez, DH
Luca Duda, 1B
Rosell Herrera, CF
Alex Gordon, LF
Alcides Escobar, SS
Drew Butera, C
Brad Keller, RHP