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La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Twins starter Santiago to pitch with heavy heart on Wednesday


Here are three thoughts following the Twins' 8-1 win over Texas

SANTIAGO TO PITCH WITH HEAVY HEART: A few minutes after the game ended, Hector Santiago left a heartfelt message on Instagram. It was for his grandmother, who has passed away in recent days. Santiago still intends to make his start tomorrow against the Rangers, but it could be an emotional night for him. 

SANTANA IS 4-0: Pitchers don't have their best stuff every outing. There could be 10 or so starts a season where they have to junk a pitch that isn't working or rely on certain pitches more heavily that others because they aren't feeling right. We've heard Phil Hughes talk about his struggles with his change up recently. That has not been the case for Ervin Santana, who pitched another seven strong innings on Tuesday. Joey Gallo got him for a home run, but that was it. And Santana said his slider and change up have been working fine all season. "So far, yes," he said. "I just have to make sure that when I throw my warmup pitches that I throw everything so I have a good feel for them." Santana is 4-0 with an MLB-low 0.77 ERA. This is his best start since 2008, when he went 5-0 with a 2.48 ERA in April.

O'ROURKE NEEDS TOMMY JOHN SURGERY: There was as story published in the New York Times in 2011 that pointed out that MRI exams aren't that reliable. I kept thinking back to that as Ryan O'Rourke talked before the game. O'Rourke needs Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament that was discovered after getting a second opinion from Rangers team orthopedist Dr. Keith Meister. "The first MRI, everything they showed me, I agreed with," O'Rourke said. "And we put dye in my arm and it didn't leak anywhere." FYI: Injecting dye into the area can help detect tears. "They couldn't see a leak, I couldn't see a leak. So it was read correctly," O'Rourke said. " The second one we did, the dye didn't leak again. But what we delved into deeper, it made complete sense. I think my arm has been through a lot in 28 years of throwing. A lot of scar tissue has built up there. The dye is not going to leak through the scar tissue but things could still be torn in there, which obviously was the case." That's a tough break for O'Rourke, who has spent hours doing research about what could be wrong with him, looking for anything that suggested it was not a torn ligament. But it was. 

Reliever O'Rourke has torn elbow ligament, needs Tommy John surgery

Lefthander Ryan O'Rourke has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and will need Tommy John surgery, the Twins announced today.

O'Rourke traveled with the Twins to Arlington to be evaluated by Rangers orthopedist Dr. Keith Miester. After Miester consulted with Twins doctors, it has been determined that O'Rourke needs season-ending surgery. 

O'Rourke ruled out any chance of a modified procedure that would allow him to return to action sooner. He's looking at a return to action in early 2018.

"If I could put a two month timeline on it, I would say that," O'Rourke said. "There's reality, and it is a lot longer than that."

He was diagnosed with a strained flexor pronator mass near his elbow during spring training. An MRI exam revealed no structural damage, so O’Rourke started a throwing program. Discomfort persisted, forcing O'Rourke to seek a second opinion. A second MRI exam was taken, which also came back clean.

"But what we delved into deeper, it made complete sense," O'Rourke said. "I think my arm has been through a lot in 28 years of throwing."

O'Rourke is in the process of selecting a surgeon for the procedure. 

As for the game, Ervin Santana will attempt to improve to 4-0 on the season while the Twins try to win a second game in Arlington. Santana has not pitched here since 2013, when he gave up just one unearned run over seven innings while pitching for Kansas City.

Twins manager Paul Molitor admitted it was hard to leave Robbie Grossman out of the lineup, but this is the result of Kennys Vargas being called up and needing at bats. So the American League leader in on base percentage is not in the lineup tonight.

Twins 

Brian Dozier, 2B
Max Kepler, RF
Miguel Sano, 3B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Jorge Polanco, SS
Jason Castro, C
Kennys Vargas, DH
Eddie Rosario, LF
Byron Buxton, CF

Ervin Santana, RHP  6-7, 6.93 ERA at Globe Life Park, but gave up unearned run in last outing here on June 2, 2013 while with Kansas City.


Rangers

Shin-Soo Choo, DH
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nomar Mazara, RF
Mike Napoli, 1B
Rougned Odor, 2B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Joey Gallo, 3B
Jonathan Lucroy, C
Ryan Rua, LF

Andrew Cashner, RHP