Two people with important jobs involving the Twins’ on-field product said this during my time in Fort Myers last month:
Beyond competent work as a starting pitcher, one asset brought to Twins by Ervin Santana was the bond he had created with the team’s young players from the Caribbean.
J.O. Berrios, soon to be 21 and the team’s No. 1 prospect as a starter, was in big-league camp for a couple of weeks and was said to be particularly noticeable in attaching himself to Santana.
Berrios is from Puerto Rico, Santana from the Dominican Republic, and the Twins were impressed with both:
Berrios for wanting to absorb knowledge on how an established starter prepared for a season, and Santana for his interest in the young man’s development.
It sounded like exactly the dynamic you want to have taking place between a young pitcher with a chance at a tremendous career, and a 32-year-old with a track record of being a workhorse.
So it goes for this team stuck in a rut of bad play, bad decisions and bad luck, and today I’d have to say this:
The chances of Santana being a successful mentor for Berrios and other young Twins from the Caribbean are about the same as Greg Jennings trying to input everything he knew about receiving into the cranium of Cordarrelle Patterson.
The Twins have to hope that Santana comes back from his steroids suspension as a straight shooter and fully contrite, or that Berrios and others have found another elder from whom to absorb knowledge and to respect.