Danny Santana played shortstop throughout spring training but was all over Target Field before Saturday’s game.
Santana took ground balls at short, as Twins coach Paul Molitor looked on and gave pointers. After that, he was in the outfield taking fly balls. With a three-man bench, the Twins need versatility, and Santana, a legitimate shortstop prospect, is going to have to move around the field during his stint with the Twins.
“We’ll get him out there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Santana was called up from Class AAA Rochester for righthander Mike Pelfrey, who was put on the 15-day disabled list because of a groin injury. Santana could be a solution at shortstop, as the Twins have been unable to get Pedro Florimon’s bat going. Eduardo Escobar has been getting many of the recent starts at short, although Florimon was in the lineup for Saturday’s 6-1 victory over Baltimore.
Having the 23-year-old Santana play different positions gets his speed and bat on the field, where he could impact the game. He was batting .268 with seven doubles and two triples at Rochester. He also stole four bases in five attempts. Last season, he hit .297 with 30 steals at Class AA New Britain.
Santana, a native of the Dominican Republic, has the tools to be a quality shortstop. When asked how strong Santana’s arm is, assistant General Manager Rob Antony said, “it’s a missile.” But Santana needs to be more consistent. He committed 32 errors in 125 games at shortstop last year, and this spring he had stretches when he gave opponents extra outs.
Antony recently saw Santana during a trip to Rochester and was pleased, saying: “I thought he looked much better. I thought he was under control.”
Santana, who arrived in the Twin Cities around 1 a.m. Saturday, said he can play short, second, third and the outfield if needed. It will be intriguing to see how the Twins use him.
“I feel a little more confident in the field now,” he said. “I feel like I play the game the right way.”
Waiting for Willingham
Sunday will be four weeks since left fielder Josh Willingham last played in a game for the Twins. He was hit on the left wrist with a pitch April 6 in Cleveland and has been on the mend ever since. He was diagnosed with a small fracture in his wrist. He had hoped to swing a bat Saturday, but the Twins backed off that plan.
“It probably would take six weeks to heal, heal,” Antony said. “They were hoping that in two-three weeks, the pain would be gone and once the pain is gone, then you are fine to do [more swinging]. It is not going to get any worse then.
“This is longer than we hoped or expected, but every person is different.”
Once Willingham is able to swing the bat with no pain, he will be able to face live pitching and begin gearing up for a rehabilitation assignment. But no one knows when that will happen.
And as for Hicks …
It’s too early to tell if center fielder Aaron Hicks will be ready to play once his stint on the seven-day concussion disabled list is up. Hicks banged his head on the wall during Game 2 of a doubleheader with the Dodgers on Thursday. He stayed in the game and played one more inning, but the training staff checked him again and told Gardenhire that Hicks needed to come out of the game.
With the run of concussions Twins players have had in recent years — Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe, Wilkin Ramirez — the club won’t take any chances with Hicks.