Twins right-hander Ervin Santana underwent surgery on his right middle finger nearly six weeks ago, on Feb. 6. He’s still unable to grip a baseball in the wake of the procedure, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Santana won’t be able to start a throwing program for as long as that’s the case, which could put his 10- to 12-week recovery timeline in jeopardy. Asked whether he’s still on track to return on schedule, Santana said: “I don’t know. They didn’t say a specific time, but for me I just want to come back when everything is 100 percent. I don’t want to rush anything.” The Twins are in much better shape than they were when Santana landed on the shelf, having since added Jake Odorizzi via trade with the Rays and Lance Lynn in free agency.
- Righty Jeremy Hellickson languished on the open market from November until Friday, when he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals. Interest was otherwise hard to come by for Hellickson, even though he has enjoyed a decent career to this point and is fairly young (soon to be 31). “They were actually the first team that called,” Hellickson said of Washington (via Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com). “When Scott (Boras) told me the Nationals, I thought: ‘That’s a perfect situation.’“ Hellickson, who had been working out with other Boras clients before signing, noted that his first trip to free agency “wasn’t fun.” Now, he’s “excited” about his new team and hoping to win the fifth spot in its rotation.
- Mariners righty Erasmo Ramirez has been down with a lat strain for nearly a month, and he might not be ready to return by April 11, when the team will first need a No. 5 starter, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. If Ramirez isn’t back by then – manager Scott Servais noted that an April 11 return “would be very aggressive” – the Mariners are likely to go with left-hander Ariel Miranda or righty Robert Whalen, Divish writes.
- Red Sox reliever Bobby Poyner is “a legitimate candidate” to earn a roster spot, Ian Browne of MLB.com writes. The 25-year-old left-hander entered camp as a non-roster invitee, but he has since thrown 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball during spring action, which has put him “in the mix” for a big league role, according to manager Alex Cora. Poyner, whom the Red Sox selected in the 14th round of the 2015 draft, hasn’t even garnered any Triple-A experience to this point. He divided last season between High-A and Double-A, combining for a 1.49 ERA with 12.5 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 60 1/3 innings.
- While it’s up in the air whether Poyner will be part of Boston’s season-opening bullpen, that’s not the case in regards t Craig Kimbrel. The closer has been away from the team since Feb. 28 because his 4-month-old daughter, Lydia, had heart surgery. Fortunately, she’s recovering well, relays the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, who adds that Cora expects Kimbrel to be ready for Opening Day. Kimbrel’s on his way to camp, where he’ll throw live batting practice Monday.
- As expected, Rangers lefty pitching prospect Cole Ragans will undergo Tommy John surgery, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News was among those to report. And in further bad news for the Rangers’ prospect pool, righty Kyle Cody is dealing with elbow inflammation. Surgery may eventually be in the offing for him, Grant tweets. The 23-year-old Cody ranks as Texas’ No. 8 prospect at MLB.com.