Twins’ Santana to miss start of season after finger surgery

Published 7:57 am Wednesday, February 7, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Twins right-hander Ervin Santana will miss the start of the regular season after unexpected surgery on his right middle finger.

The Twins announced the 35-year-old right-hander had the procedure Tuesday in New York by Dr. Charles Melone, after Santana experienced discomfort during a bullpen session last week. Santana is expected to need 10 to 12 weeks of rehabilitation before he can pitch in a major league game, which would keep him out of the rotation until at least mid-April.

Santana has had trouble with the digit before and had an X-ray and MRI after the 2017 season, when doctors determined there was no injury to the tendon. He was treated with an injection at the time. The injury resurfaced last week, and Melone’s recommendation was surgery. The procedure to the joint of the finger is a capsular release/debridement. The Twins said the injury stems from wear and tear, not one acute event.

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Santana was an All-Star last year, going 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA in 211 1/3 innings over 33 starts. He led the majors with five complete games and three shutouts. He started the AL wild card game, which the Twins lost at Yankee Stadium.

Santana will make $13.5 million this year, and the Twins have a 2019 option at $14 million with a $1 million buyout. The 2019 salary would become guaranteed if Santana pitches 400 or more innings combined over the 2017 and 2018 seasons, including 200 or more in 2018, and passes a physical. This injury will make that 2019 option unlikely to vest.

Twins pitchers and catchers are scheduled for their first workout on Feb. 14.

The club also announced Tuesday that 13 players have been invited to big league camp with minor league contracts: right-handed pitchers Myles Jaye, Michael Kohn and Jake Reed, catchers Willians Astudillo, Brian Navarreto and Bobby Wilson, infielders Taylor Featherston, Nick Gordon, Gregorio Petit and Brock Stassi, and outfielders Nick Buss, Ryan LaMarre and LaMonte Wade.

Eight of those players have major league service, including Wilson, a 34-year-old who has played in 324 games for five teams with a .214 career batting average. He last played in the majors in 2016, for Detroit, Tampa Bay and Texas. He spent 2017 in the Pacific Coast League with Oklahoma City, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.