CHICAGO – Ervin Santana’s visit to the Twins’ hand specialist didn’t go as well as hoped Tuesday, and while further tests have been scheduled, Twins manager Paul Molitor said, “it’s becoming a little less likely he’s going to pitch here” again in 2018.
Santana had X-rays taken of his pitching hand after an examination by Dr. Thomas Varecka in Minneapolis, Molitor said, and “there was some concern about what he saw.” Santana will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam Wednesday, and the Twins don’t want to make any decisions or announcements about his status until the results of the MRI are reviewed.
But Santana, who went on the disabled list Sunday after reporting increasing discomfort in his right middle finger, appears unlikely to be cleared to pitch again anytime soon.
“I’m not sure where it’s going to go,” Molitor said. “There’s going to be communication from people that have seen him in the past, to Dr. Varecka, to our [medical] staff, and try to come to some kind of consensus [about] what the next step is going to be.”
After undergoing surgery to remove calcium deposits in early February, Santana, 35, missed nearly four months of the season. He pitched only five times for the Twins, between July 25 and Aug. 16, and the results weren’t encouraging: an 8.03 ERA, a fastball that averaged only 89 miles per hour and, he revealed this week, a return of the pain in his finger.
The Twins own a $14 million option on next year, but are likely to pay a $1 million buyout instead and allow Santana to become a free agent.
No tweeting please, Dad
Tyler Austin’s efforts to unseat Greg Bird as the Yankees first baseman ended when New York included him in the trade for Lance Lynn last month, and Austin says he’s excited to be a Twin. But his father, Chris Austin, obviously isn’t happy about the Yankees’ choice.
And Tyler Austin isn’t happy about his father making that public.
Twice in the past 10 days, Chris Austin compared his son to Bird on Twitter, and Tyler wishes he hadn’t.
“Pretty embarrassed about what my dad put on there,” Austin said.
On Aug. 11, after Austin homered in his debut with the Twins, his father tweeted “18 homerun for Tyler on the year but bird is word.” And Saturday, after Austin singled twice and connected on his third home run as a Twin, Chris Austin tweeted “Tyler has more hits with the twins in a week than bird has in a month with the Yankees.”
Both tweets were later deleted.
“I didn’t know about it until somebody sent me a picture of it. I told him immediately to take it down,” Austin said of the latest tweet. “It’s embarrassing and should never happen.”
Austin, 26, is off to a strong start with the Twins, batting .370 (10-for-27) with three home runs in eight games so far. Bird is the object of much criticism in New York, and it’s grown louder given his 9-for-64 (.141) slump since Austin was traded July 30. But the Twins’ new first baseman and DH is clearly eager to move on from the controversy in New York.
“I’m excited to be here. We’ve got a great group of guys that I’m happy to share a locker room with,” Austin said. “This team is filled with talent, from top to bottom.”
Austin will be contacting his former teammate to apologize, he said. “I will be reaching out to him, because something like that should never happen,” he said.
• Michael Pineda allowed only two hits over four innings Tuesday in his Class AAA debut with Rochester, walking two and striking out two against Pawtucket. The former Yankee, recovering from elbow surgery a year ago, remains on track to return to the major leagues in September.