Santana was the Opening Day center fielder, but manager Chris Woodward said the 29-year-old is not ready to play the outfield just yet. Santana, who was not in the starting lineup on Sunday, will likely start out being used at designated hitter and could play first or second base right away.
And Santana did appear at DH on Sunday, tapping in for Shin-Soo Choo in the eighth inning. He got off to a quick start, lacing an RBI single to center, before collecting a second RBI by walking with the bases loaded in the ninth.
“We just got to be careful with his arm,” Woodward said before the loss. “I think, eventually, within a week we’re hoping he can play everywhere on the infield. I still don't see outfield being an option for at least another week or two. Right now, I'm kind of focusing on first and second base for him.”
Santana was 1-for-17 to start the season before going on the IL. He was the Rangers Player of the Year in 2019, when he hit .283/.324/.534 with 28 home runs and 81 RBIs.
Santana last played in a game on July 28 and was placed on the IL on Aug. 2, retroactive to July 30.
His return increases the Rangers' depth but will make for a tricky fit in the lineup. Todd Frazier is locked in at first base so that Isiah Kiner-Falefa can play third. Nick Solak is playing center field, and the Rangers want his bat in the lineup. But Santana would be a defensive upgrade in center.
Second base could be an option if Rougned Odor continues to struggle offensively.
“Danny is a big part of our team,” Woodward said. “He was our starting center fielder; he's our three-hole hitter to start the season. He deserves an opportunity to be in the lineup when he returns.
“It's a puzzle that I'm going to have to figure out and try to keep everybody happy, which is impossible. But I just ask all these guys to be professional and make sure that they are not pouting or getting upset that they are not playing as much as they would like.”
Martin, for his part, has made five relief appearances this season, conceding one earned run across 4 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old has four strikeouts against six walks and appeared in 51 games (two starts) in 2019.
“He’s just been sore. It wasn’t getting better," Woodward said after Sunday's loss. "He’s been throwing through it. We decided to shut him down and evaluate him when we get back to Texas and make sure we get him healthy. We need him in our bullpen.”