Twins skipper Paul Molitor revealed to reporters today that the team’s top starter, Ervin Santana, is “a bit” behind schedule (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger). Santana has been limited to throwing soft baseballs into a screen, and a return in May now looks considerably likelier than a return in late April. Santana underwent surgery to repair an injury to the middle finger on his right hand back in February. When he’s ultimately ready to return, he’ll join a new-look rotation that includes newcomers Lance Lynn and Opening Day starter Jake Odorizzi, as well as returning righties Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson.
Here’s more from the American League:
- Meanwhile, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn provided the media with a positive update on the rehab progress of left-hander Carlos Rodon (Twitter link from Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times). Rodon, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder back in September, has begun throwing sliders in his bullpen sessions, which are up to 30 to 35 pitches each, per Hahn. A return in late May isn’t out of the question, which would give the Pale Hose a rotation boost a bit sooner than they previously expected.
- The Athletics optioned top prospect Dustin Fowler to Triple-A Nashville to begin the season, leaving Boog Powell to open the season as Oakland’s center fielder. A’s GM David Forst spoke highly of both outfielders in an email to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, noting that Fowler “worked incredibly hard to rehab his knee injury and amazingly put himself in a position to help us as soon as he’s needed.” Forst added that he expects Fowler to contribute at the big league level sooner rather than later. Manager Bob Melvin, Slusser notes, voiced a preference to bring Fowler to the Majors when he’s ready to stay rather than risking the possibility of rushing him and needing to send him back down. Fowler already has 95 days of MLB service time after spending the second half of last season on the DL, so the decision to option him isn’t tied to a desire to delay his free agency or any other such service manipulation.
- In their latest ballpark-related initiative, the Athletics have announced (Twitter link) that they wish to obtain the O.Co Coliseum and its surrounding property in exchange for taking over $135MM in debt relating to the site. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier & Ross dove into the interesting bid, which represents the latest new plot twist in a long-running drama. Generally, while the A’s are not committed to the site, the club is also concerned that alternative bidders might acquire it with other intentions — perhaps leaving the organization with only one site option (Howard Terminal) for a long-sought new park. In a follow-up tweet, the Chronicle duo reported that the team and municipality have agreed upon “exclusive talks over ballpark development,” potentially involving either of the two remaining site options, though just what that entails is not immediately clear.