Santana's pitch count won't change

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 19, 2007 - 12:36 AM

Despite his ace's frustrations, manager Ron Gardenhire says Johan Santana will face the usual limits on the number of pitches he can throw in a game.

NEW YORK - Johan Santana will face the same pitch-count restrictions he always has faced when he returns to the mound tonight against the New York Mets.

Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson spoke to Santana after the two-time Cy Young Award winner voiced his displeasure over being pulled from Thursday's start against Atlanta.

Manager Ron Gardenhire removed Santana with the Twins down 2-0 after the seventh inning. Santana had thrown 108 pitches. The Twins rallied for three runs in the ninth and won 3-2.

Santana's career record is 84-37, but he is 6-6 this year, despite a 3.19 ERA.

"He was frustrated more than anything else," Gardenhire said. "Andy's talked to him about it. I haven't talked to him about it because I'm set on my ways. I'm not going to let Johan go out and throw 150 pitches, even if he wants to. I want Johan pitching when we open the new stadium [in 2010]."

With few exceptions, Gardenhire rarely lets a pitcher start an inning after his pitch count has exceeded 105.

Santana threw a season-high 114 pitches in a six-inning start April 29 at Detroit. Last year, his season-high was 120 in a seven-inning April start at Chicago.

"Obviously if you're a competitor, you want to go back out there," Gardenhire said. "But we have a pretty good system here. He's had a pretty good career, and I'd like to keep it going."

Cirillo could help

Jeff Cirillo had three hits Sunday and could get more chances to play third base with Nick Punto struggling.

A new problem surfaced last week, however. Cirillo, who had arthroscopic surgery in April to repair torn meniscus in his left knee, needed a cortisone shot for his right knee. So Gardenhire has been playing him sparingly, waiting to be sure Cirillo's legs are OK.

"I'd like to use him a little more if I can," the manager said.

Gardenhire said Cirillo would play one or two games in this series, especially with the Twins facing lefthander Oliver Perez on Wednesday.

"That's what we brought him over here for, to play against lefties," Gardenhire said. "But if it looks like Nick's fighting it, we'll sure use [Cirillo]. Yeah, it's an option. But he has to be healthy."

Rincon stumbles again

After giving up three runs in the eighth inning of Sunday's 10-9 victory over the Brewers, Twins reliever Juan Rincon got roughed up for four runs (three earned) in the eighth inning of Monday's 8-1 loss to the Mets.

"Every once in a while, you're going to go through a period where you struggle a little bit," Gardenhire said. "But he's been a great reliever around here, and he still is. And I'm not ready to give up the ship on Juan Rincon.

"I have a big spot in my heart for him because he's done a lot of good around here. And I'm sure he'll get back to doing good."

Castillo's streak

Luis Castillo, who made regular visits to Shea Stadium when he played for Florida, had a 32-game hitting streak at the stadium before going 0-for-4 Monday.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the longest streak by any player in the history of the stadium, which opened in 1964.

"I played here so much," Castillo said. "I just like it."

Etc.

• Twins center fielder Torii Hunter returned to the lineup, as expected, one day after getting hit on his left knuckles by a pitch from Milwaukee's Jeff Suppan. Hunter went 0-for-4.

• This is the Twins' family trip, so several of the players' wives and children were on the team charter Sunday. A bigger plane was ordered, but the flight was still delayed by an hour. The problem? Too much luggage.

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