Twins righthander Ervin Santana arrived in the Twin Cities for an appointment with Twins doctors, then flew back to Fort Myers, Fla., after hearing the words he wanted to hear.
He can finally start a throwing program.
Santana, who had surgery to remove a calcium deposit from his middle finger on Feb., 6, has not bounced back as fast as he or the Twins had hoped. It took longer for him to regain full movement of the finger and he also struggled to grip a baseball. The best case scenario was that he could return in 10 weeks following surgery. That can’t happen now, but he could return in early May, which would be at end of the 12-week window.
“We have been going slowly,” manager Paul Molitor said, “and now he’s going to have a chance to get out on the field and play catch in the throwing program and try to get him extended over time.
“It’s early in the process, but at least the baseball part has begun.”
Santana has to go from playing catch a few times to throwing in the bullpen a few times. Then he’ll likely throw live batting practice before beginning a minor league rehabilitation program. Then he’ll be on a spring training-like progression, in which he’ll throw around 30 pitches then add more with each successive outing.
Santana has boasted that he’s a fast healer, which wasn’t the case in this recovery. Now the Twins will be challenged to keep him from accelerating his throwing program too much.
“We have enough confidence in his judgment,” Molitor said, “as well as surrounding him with people who will be monitoring pretty much everything he does.”
Puerto Rico week nears
Astros All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa admitted he’s a little jealous that the Twins and Indians were selected to take part in the Puerto Rico series next week in San Juan. Correa, who was born in Ponce, remembers when he watched the Cubs and Expos in San Juan as a child and what that experience meant to him.
“It’s going to be something that [fans] will never forget,” he said. “It’s something you’ll never forget when you see major league players in your hometown.”
Major League Baseball on Tuesday announced some of the events planned during the two-game series, to be played next Tuesday and Wednesday at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, named after the first Puerto Rican-born player to play in the majors.
Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor will visit the schools they attended while growing up on the island. Rosario was born about 30 miles from San Juan in Guayama while Lindor was born in Caguas, about 20 miles away.
There will be a charity golf tournament played on Monday to benefit the local Boys and Girls Clubs and Habitat for Humanity. Citizens who were pivotal during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria will be honored before Tuesday’s game. Former All-Star Carlos Beltran will throw out the first pitch before Tuesday’s game, and the national anthem will be performed by former All-Star Bernie Williams.
One day after hitting on the field for just the second time all season, the Twins stayed in and let players get ready on their own while the Astros worked out on the field.
Some Twins players did come out and take some grounders and run around to get their legs warmed up.
Molitor has been a little concerned about how the cold weather has forced his players to alter their routines. Second baseman Brian Dozier says his teammates have adapted well to the change.
And, as quiet as it is kept, many players get more out of hitting flip throws into a net than through batting practice.
“One million percent,” Dozier said.
Righthander Phil Hughes (left oblique) is scheduled to throw in the bullpen on Wednesday in Fort Myers and will be available to start on Friday against the White Sox if needed. Hughes currently is on a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Class A Fort Myers.