CLEARWATER, Fla. — Paul Molitor told reporters this morning that he wants Ervin Santana to lose weight.
OK, that’s not exactly what he said. Molitor confirmed that the anchor of the Twins’ staff caught a flight to New York this morning, in order to have his surgically repaired middle finger examined and, he hopes, have the cast removed from his right arm.
“Hopefully, he comes back a few pounds lighter,” Molitor joked about the bright blue cast.
Santana is expected to fly back to Florida this evening, and could be testing that hand as soon as Tuesday, depending upon what doctors and the Twins’ training staff decided.
Meanwhile, the Twins spent this morning putting even more miles on their heavily-used buses. Four times in the past six days, Minnesota players have caught 7:30 a.m. buses and rode at least 125 miles to play afternoon games. It’s just part of training in Florida, but some years are worse than others.
“Last year took its toll, I think, throughout the spring,” Molitor said. This year, “there just happen to be a lot of the further ones compacted together.”
The bright side is that after today, only one trip of more than 100 miles remains — a week from today, they head to Tampa to face the Yankees. And getting the long drives out of the way early also comes with the benefit of having plenty of players available, since no cuts have been made yet. “Unfortunately, a lot of the same guys have been on most of the rides, the way it’s worked out,” Molitor said. “That’s all right — [they can] earn their stripes.”
Molitor has been getting extra looks at players who are less likely to make the team, which gives them a better chance to make a positive impression. Today’s entire lineup, in fact, is made up of players who are not guaranteed roster spots, though Robbie Grossman and Ehire Adrianza are the favorites to keep theirs.
Here are the lineups for today’s game against the Phillies at Spectrum Field, one of the most fan-friendly venues in the Grapefruit League:
Gibson RHP, followed by Slegers, Little, Gonsalves, Kinley, Romero.