FORT MYERS, Fla. — There were 288 wins worth of Johan Santanas in the Twins clubhouse today, but neither of them is available to pitch.
The two-time Cy Young winner stopped by to say hello to his former teammates — though other than Joe Mauer, they’re all on the coaching staff now — and reminisce about his time with the Twins. The left-handed changeup artist, who turns 39 in three weeks, didn’t look like he’d put on a pound over his playing weight, making it hard to believe that five and a half years have now passed since his last major-league game.
Santana, who will be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame on Aug. 4, traded old stories with Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins, Justin Morneau and more.
Across the clubhouse from where the former Twins ace was holding court sat the current Twins ace, also once named Johan Santana and also wishing he could pitch. Ervin Santana, who changed his name when he entered professional baseball to avoid confusion, sat alone in front of his locker, his right hand still encased in plaster.
Santana still has a week to go before the cast can be removed, and he can’t wait. While his teammates work out, build their endurance and stretch out their pitching arms, Santana spends his day riding a bike, working on his abs, and watching. Lots of watching.
At least the cast, in place to protect a middle finger from which a calcium deposit was removed earlier this month, doesn’t itch, Santana said. But he has to wrap a plastic bag around it when he showers, to keep it dry. The deep blue cast has been decorated by his two young children, with daughter Sofia even adding a small stick-figure drawing of her and her dad standing in front of their house.
Is he as bored as he looks? “A little bit,” said Santana, who is expected to miss the first month of the season. “I try to do whatever I can, but I can’t do everything.”
The dos Santanas stayed behind in Twins camp this morning as half the squad rode the bus five miles east, to JetBlue Park. The Twins, who won an exhibition game against the University of Minnesota on Thursday, will open their Grapefruit Season schedule at noon Central against the Red Sox. Aaron Slegers starts for the Twins, facing Hector Velazquez.
Like the rest of MLB’s 30 teams, the Twins will be wearing “SD” caps (shown above on the head of infielder Gregorio Petit) to show support for the victims of last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, just a couple of hours from here.
Here is the Twins’ lineup for today’s game, which can be heard online at twinsbaseball.com:
followed by Enns, Moya, Jorge, Busenitz, Curtiss, Kinley.
Here's the Red Sox lineup:
De Jesus 2B
De La Guerra 3B