For a change, there’s some good news today regarding Twins injuries. Ervin Santana threw roughly 35 pitches to hitters Friday in Fort Myers, and among them was Jorge Polanco.
That’s a step forward for both missing Twins, given that they have been sidelined by finger injuries for longer than the team had hoped.
Santana, still working his way back from February finger surgery, may be nearing the point where he can pitch minor-league games and begin building his arm up for a return to Minnesota, which now appears inevitably after the All-Star break. He will throw again on Monday, and the Twins will evaluate his progress and make a decision then.
Polanco’s return is much closer and much more definitive: He must be placed on the Twins’ 25-man (and 40-man) roster on July 2, when his 80-game steroids suspension expires, or go on the disabled list. But he caught the middle finger on his throwing hand in a car door nearly two weeks ago, and the finger subsequently became infected, forcing the Twins to abandon their plans to begin a minor-league assignment last Sunday.
“We’re just trying to make sure we get that finger right before he’s done too much,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Polanco was able to swing relative pain-free. There were a couple of times when he had to reach for pitches [and] he got a little irritation on that finger. … We’ll try to get him out at least to start DH-ing some games before he’s ready to play defensively.”
That won’t take place until next week at the earliest, however, which puts the Twins in a potential bind. They can use him in minor-league games, but if they use him too much — how much is undefined, but figure it to be more than two or three games — they won’t be able to claim he’s unable to play, and thus able to go on the disabled list. But Polanco hasn’t played, other than intrasquad games with Twins rookies, since spring training, so ideally the Twins would like to get him some work first.
But Paul Molitor hinted that the Twins may be willing to activate Polanco on schedule, even if he’s not ready to play shortstop, just to put him in the lineup. “We have 10 days to see how it unfolds,” the manager said.
One look at the Twins’ lineup tonight shows you how much they would like to get Polanco back. With Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton missing, and with Eduardo Escobar sidelined by a bruised elbow — he said he’s got a little soreness but is otherwise fine, a day after being hit by a Rick Porcello fastball, and should be back in the lineup on Saturday — the Twins’ lineup lacks some firepower today. But Eddie Rosario is back, and says his sore shoulder is better.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s series opener against Texas: