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Santana displays readiness for Twins debut

Righty tosses eight scoreless innings in final Triple-A outing, scheduled for Sunday start

CINCINNATI -- Twins right-hander Ervin Santana was impressive in his final tuneup with Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday, tossing eight scoreless innings against Pawtucket.

Santana, who is lined up to make his return from his 80-game suspension on Sunday in Kansas City, pitched well in his three rehab starts with Rochester. Santana showed no signs of rust, posting a 1.84 ERA along with 11 strikeouts and four walks in 20 2/3 innings.

Santana's final outing was his best, as he scattered five hits and struck out five without walking a batter. He also threw 99 pitches, so he's fully stretched out and won't have a pitch-count limitation in his first start with the Twins.

Santana is technically eligible to return on Saturday, barring any rainouts, but he is scheduled to start on Sunday. The Twins still haven't announced who he'll replace in the rotation, but general manager Terry Ryan has indicated they will not go to a six-man rotation.

That means Wednesday's start could be a big one for rookie Trevor May, who has pitched well with a 3.70 ERA in June but is coming off his worst start of the season. He recorded just one out against the Brewers on Friday, giving up six runs.

Santana, 32, joined the Twins on a four-year deal worth $55 million this offseason, but his suspension for the use of a performance-enhancing drug was announced just three days before the start of the regular season on April 7. Santana lost roughly $6.6 million in salary and is not eligible to pitch in the postseason.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.
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