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E. Santana gets a chance with White Sox

Former Twin signs Minor League deal in attempted comeback from 2018 finger surgery
@scottmerkin
February 23, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ervin Santana passed his physical, officially agreed to a Minor League deal with the White Sox including a Spring Training invite and then threw a bullpen session Saturday morning at Camelback Ranch. The veteran right-hander, who will earn a $4.3 million salary in 2019 if he makes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ervin Santana passed his physical, officially agreed to a Minor League deal with the White Sox including a Spring Training invite and then threw a bullpen session Saturday morning at Camelback Ranch.

The veteran right-hander, who will earn a $4.3 million salary in 2019 if he makes the Major League roster, was limited to five starts for the Twins last season after having surgery on his right middle finger and then battling through the after-effects. Everything is getting better for Santana, thanks to rest, recovery and a great deal of physical therapy, but he’s not on a regular schedule quite yet.

“I take it one day at a time and see what happens,” said Santana before Chicago's Cactus League openers on Saturday. In split-squad games, the White Sox lost, 7-6, to the Dodgers, and lost, 6-5, to the A's. “It was difficult because when you have finger issues you’re not going to be able to hold the grip the way you want to and throw the ball the way you wanted. It was a little bit frustrating, when you’re trying to do whatever you can to come back from an injury and nothing is going the way you want it to, and you have a setback again. I did my rehab and all that stuff and it’s very good now.”

Santana’s Opening Day availability should become clearer in mid-March. If Santana were unable to break camp with the team, Manny Banuelos and Dylan Covey appear to be the best bets for the team's fifth-starter slot.

Santana, 36, is one season removed from a 16-8 record with a 3.28 ERA, as well as 211 1/3 innings pitched, five complete games and three shutouts for the Twins in 2017. Now, he’s being looked upon once again as a steady mound presence for an organization with rising young talent.

“I’m glad to be here, glad to be part of this team,” Santana said. "I am very happy to be part of such a young club. They have special young talent and a lot of good players. I just want to be part of a good team.

“Thank God my shoulder and elbow [have no] issues, so I am safe in that area," Santana said. "My main thing is getting my finger better. We’ll see what happens.”

Tucker joins the White Sox

The White Sox also announced a Minor League deal with outfielder Preston Tucker on Saturday, including a Spring Training invite.

Tucker, 28, is a career .222 hitter with 23 home runs and 68 RBIs in 243 games over parts of three Major League seasons with Houston (2015-16), Atlanta ('18) and Cincinnati ('18). He split last season between the Braves and Reds, batting .229 with 11 doubles, six homers and 27 RBIs in 97 games.

Third to first

Dylan Cease, the No. 21 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, is not in the White Sox pitching lineup for the first five days of Cactus League action. The White Sox are trying to ease the right-hander into action while managing his workload early in a season that figures to include a big league promotion.

• Saturday’s roster additions mean Santana will wear uniform No. 54; Randall Delgado, who already was in camp wearing No. 54, will switch to 25. Tucker will wear No. 32.

Reynaldo Lopez, who starts Wednesday at home against the Reds, will be the first starter from the projected White Sox rotation to take the mound in a 2019 Cactus League contest. Carlos Rodon, who could wind up as Chicago's Opening Day starter, will throw in a simulated game Monday along with relievers Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colome.

They said it

“Honestly, I don’t care where I’m hitting. First, second, third, fifth, seventh, it doesn’t matter. Whatever I can do to help the team.” -- Yoan Moncada, after a two-hit game against the A’s in Mesa, on whether he preferred to hit leadoff

Up next

The White Sox travel to Peoria for a road contest against the Padres with a 2:10 p.m. CT start on Sunday, but Manny Machado will not be in the lineup for San Diego. Left-hander Bernardo Flores gets the start for the White Sox, with Aaron Bummer, Caleb Frare, Ian Hamilton and Juan Minaya also scheduled to pitch.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.