Twins rookie Danny Santana didn’t start the series finale against Tampa Bay on Sunday, a day after he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts against Rays ace David Price.
Santana was activated from the disabled list Friday after suffering a knee injury on June 25. He went 0-for-11 in three games during a rehab assignment at Class A Fort Myers during the All-Star break, but the Twins put the speedy 23-year-old back in center field and at his leadoff spot Friday. He went 1-for-5 with an infield single and two strikeouts in his return.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said he thought Santana was overwhelmed by a tough pitching staff and possibly not quite ready after having so few at-bats on his rehab assignment. Gardenhire left him out of the lineup so hitting coach Tom Brunansky could help him work on mechanics.
“He was kind of flat-footing everything,” Gardenhire said, “which coming off a knee injury, you get in some bad habits.”
Gardenhire said he hoped the break would help Santana get his pre-injury stride back, which starts with utilizing his lower body.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said he blamed Santana’s Saturday performance mostly on Price, the Rays’ lone All-Star selection.
“[Sam] Fuld is playing good, so it’s not unusual to try and throw him back in there,” Ryan said. “Danny, it doesn’t hurt him any to sit over there and watch him.”
Fuld started in center field and went 1-for-2 to raise his average to .432 since July 1.
Gardenhire reached 1,000 career victories in the first week of the season, so it wasn’t a surprise that 1,000 losses eventually would follow.
He is 1,042-1,000 in 13 seasons managing the Twins, a .510 winning percentage, after Sunday’s loss. But he isn’t looking at the milestone as any sign of failure — more as a sign of respect, actually.
“It means you’ve been managing a long time,” he said. “And you’re getting old.”
Happy birthday, Tony O.
Sunday’s game also marked Twins legend Tony Oliva’s 76th birthday. Gardenhire joked he would give the Cuba native a cigar for a present, but he then more seriously reflected on Oliva’s continued impact on the team, including his mentoring of young Latin players.
“That’s probably one of the great injustices in this game as far as Minnesota goes is Tony Oliva not being in the Hall of Fame,” Gardenhire said.
• With his team nine games under .500 and the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline approaching, Gardenhire said he and the players can’t be distracted by potential deals. “I can’t worry about that. I mean, we’ve just got to keep trying to figure out where to win ballgames. That’s upstairs [in the front office], with conversations going on. We’ll have meetings, I’m sure. We always do at this time of the year. [I’ll] talk to the staff and Terry [Ryan] and [assistant GM] Rob [Antony] and see where they’re [at] and see what they want to do.”
• First baseman Joe Mauer still is recovering from a right oblique strain he suffered July 1. Ryan said Mauer is doing well, still taking swings and progressing. As far as sending Mauer to the minor leagues for a rehab assignment, Ryan said he and Gardenhire have not discussed it with Mauer and the trainers yet. “I think it’d be premature for me to say that right now because I don’t know how long he’s going to be out,” Ryan said.
• Righthander Ricky Nolasco is rehabbing a right elbow strain that landed him on the disabled list July 8. Ryan said Nolasco did not throw Sunday but would Monday, hopefully stretching to 120 feet.