At their current sluggish pace, the Twins will finish the season with 45 stolen bases, or the same number Paul Molitor swiped by himself with Milwaukee in 1987. It’s a trend that clearly bothers the Twins manager.

“I don’t even know the last time we stole a base, to be honest,” Molitor said Friday. “Some of the guys we’re trying to get to develop that area, we haven’t done a good enough job to get them in position to understand all the concepts involved.”

For the record, Eddie Rosario stole second on Aug. 23, the Twins’ only steal in exactly a month. Unless the Twins run more over the season’s final three weeks, they will finish with the fewest successful steals since 1984, and almost certainly one of the 10 lowest totals in team history.

Part of the reason is the absence of speedster Byron Buxton, who has been successful on 29 consecutive steal attempts but added only five to his total in his 28 major league games this season. Yet Buxton still ranks third on the Twins in steals this year, trailing only Rosario and the departed Brian Dozier, with eight apiece.

Home runs are far more important today than they were in Molitor’s day, but he still would like the Twins to run more.

“There are other things that still work” besides home runs, he said. “Baserunning — you’ve heard me say it for years, how important it is to run the bases. If you run well, you can win a lot of games in that fashion over the course of a year. I don’t think we’ve taken advantage of our athleticism.”

Better prognosis

Ervin Santana won’t pitch again this season, but he got some peace of mind this week. Santana visited his surgeon, Dr. Thomas Melone, in New York, and now believes the lingering soreness in his fingers will recede as he continues to use his right hand.

“The fingers were [binded] in one position by my cast, and it’s like waking them up again,” Santana said of the soreness caused by an irritated nerve, which worried him because it wasn’t at the spot on his hand where Melone did the surgery to remove calcium deposits from the middle finger on Feb. 4. “It’s nothing unusual for regular people, because they don’t [put strain] on the fingers like a pitcher.”

The condition worsened with use, but Santana said the pain will be gone in plenty of time for him to resume regular workouts in the winter. Santana’s contract is up in November, however, so he doesn’t know if he will be in a Twins uniform next season.


• Molitor said he reached Buxton by phone Thursday, but the manager revealed little about their conversation. “He’s doing well,” Molitor said. “All things considered.” Buxton was reportedly upset over not being called up to the majors when his minor league season ended Monday.

• Rosario, who missed a week because of a strained quad, returned to the lineup Friday and had two hits, including his 23rd home run of the season, an eighth-inning solo shot off Wily Peralta.

• Miguel Sano’s left knee, bruised during a hard slide into second base Tuesday at Texas, was still sore Friday, so the third baseman missed a second game. “I don’t think it’s too far out there,” Molitor said. “We’re just running a few more tests to make sure he’s going to be OK and there’s nothing that’s going to linger.”

• Tyler Austin, who turned 27 on Thursday, is bothered by an aching back. Molitor said he kept him out of the lineup in order to give him more res.

• Righthander Michael Pineda, whose comeback from elbow surgery was delayed by knee pain, is still consulting with doctors to determine the best course of action. His condition may include more than just a torn meniscus, Molitor said, though Pineda is expected to be ready for spring training next year.