SEATTLE — Ervin Santana is still being affected by the surgery that cleared out the calcium deposit in his middle finger, Paul Molitor said Friday, so his next rehab start will take place with the Class A Fort Myers Miracle, not Chattanooga or Rochester.
“He’s been throwing for awhile, but he hasn’t got everything back, in terms of how he’s spinning it and how hard he can throw it,” Molitor said. Santana, an All-Star for the Twins last July, threw 45 pitches over two innings in Chattanooga on Wednesday, never eclipsing 90 mph, and showed signs that more healing is necessary.
“It’s having some impact. You imagine he’s throwing 87-90 [mph] instead of 94, there are just things that haven’t quite returned yet,” Molitor said. Until the velocity and spin rate rise, he added, so even though he is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list on Sunday, it’s hard “to feel like [his return] is imminent, as far as helping us out.”
Santana’s arm obviously needs to build up, too, considering that rehab start was his first competitive outing of 2018. Rather than have him battle through only a couple of innings against higher level hitters, the Twins want Santana to pitch a longer outing, just for the repetitions. So he has returned to Fort Myers and will travel with the Miracle to Clearwater — Santana’s offseason home is nearby — to start Tuesday’s game. The Twins will want him to move up to Class AAA at some point, but for now, they want him to focus on recovery, not results.
“His pitches aren’t where they need to be in terms of velocity. All his pitches are down, the slider and changeup, too. So we still have to build him up,” Molitor said. “Everyone is anxious to get him back up here, but we’ll have to see how his starts go. He needs to go out there and pitch and try to build up, in terms not only of being able to sustain through a longer outing, but in how the quality of the pitches come back, too.”
While Santana rehabs in Florida, the Twins are in the opposite corner of the country, opening a three-game series with the Mariners. Joe Mauer isn’t here — he won’t rejoin the team on this road trip, which continues in Kansas City next week, as the Twins take care to avoid triggering any concussion symptoms — but Miguel Sano is, and he seemed excited to play again. He’ll be at first base tonight, while Logan Morrison gets the night off with Mariners ace lefthander James Paxton on the mound.
Here are the lineups for the first of three games at Safeco Field, where the big news is the Mariners’ acquisition earlier today of former Twins outfielder Denard Span: