Daily dispatch from Fort Myers

Santana pitched playoff game in pain

– Ervin Santana brought his usual infectious smile and laid-back attitude with him to Twins camp Monday. As well as a dark blue cast around his right hand.

“Matches the uniform,” he joked, but it will also prevent him from throwing, or even picking up, a baseball for two weeks. There’s some minor pain in his hand, Santana said, but that’s normal after surgery. And he’s looking forward, he said, to being rid of the nagging pain he felt in his middle finger when he threw his slider last season, a result of the calcification buildup in his knuckle that was removed last month.

The finger was indeed acting up during the wild-card game against the New York Yankees in October, he said. “There was a little pain there, especially when I threw the slider,” Santana said. “But I didn’t think about it, you know? I was trying to win.”

He lasted only two innings, though, giving up four runs on a pair of home runs in the Twins’ 8-4 loss at Yankee Stadium. Santana doesn’t blame his sore finger for the loss, though; as he pointed out, it was bothering him in September, too, and he had a 1.90 ERA in his final four starts of the regular season.

But after the season ended, he said, the Twins sent him to three hand specialists for advice on how to deal with his condition. Two of them recommended surgery, which was done in New York on Feb. 6.

Now he will watch his teammates work out for the rest of the month. “There is some freedom to begin conditioning aspects, so he’s going to do some things,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He wants to be here, too. It’s important for him to be around.”

Etc.

• Three players did not take part in the first day of camp: second baseman Brian Dozier, who was stricken with a kidney stone over the weekend; Willians Astudillo, a catcher whose visa remains pending in Venezuela; and Anibal Sanchez, who underwent a full physical exam, including a magnetic resonance imaging test Monday. Assuming there are no issues, the pitcher is expected to sign his one-year contract Tuesday.

• Before Monday’s workout began, the Twins held a ceremony to dedicate Rick Stelmaszek “Stelly” Field just outside Hammond Stadium. The team’s main practice field is named for Rick Stelmaszek, the bullpen coach whose 32-year tenure is the longest in franchise history. A large group of some of the greatest Twins in history gathered for the event, including Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Bert Blyleven, and Torii Hunter. “I’ve got a pretty good team behind me,” Molitor said during the ceremony, which concluded with Joe Mauer and Kent Hrbek helping Stelmaszek’s widow, Cathy, unveil a plaque that recounts the career of the coach, who died in November.

Let’s meet Gregorio Petit

Position: Utility infielder

Age: 33

2017 stats: .260 with four home runs in 76 games, mostly with the Blue Jays’ Class AAA team in Buffalo.

Acquired: Signed as a free agent to minor league contract.

Role: Competing for bench role as utility infielder.

Did you know: Known as a brilliant defender, the Venezuelan signed his first professional contract with Oakland in 2001. He has played 1,407 games, but only 171 in the majors, for five teams. He has played at Class AAA every year since 2007 (except 2011, when he missed the season because of a knee injury), and has played for seven AAA teams. This is the eighth consecutive spring he has been a nonroster invite to a major league camp.

PHIL MILLER