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Santana faces hitters after second setback

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-hander Ervin Santana progressed to throwing a 35-pitch live bullpen session at the club's Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla., on Friday, and suspended shortstop Jorge Polanco stood in to face him and take some swings.

It was a good sign for the Twins, as it was the first time Santana faced hitters since suffering a second setback related to his surgically repaired right middle finger in late May. Polanco has been dealing with an injured and infected finger on his throwing hand after jamming it in a door last week, but was healthy enough to take swings against Santana. Polanco must return from his 80-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs on July 2 or be placed on the 10-day disabled list.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-hander Ervin Santana progressed to throwing a 35-pitch live bullpen session at the club's Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla., on Friday, and suspended shortstop Jorge Polanco stood in to face him and take some swings.

It was a good sign for the Twins, as it was the first time Santana faced hitters since suffering a second setback related to his surgically repaired right middle finger in late May. Polanco has been dealing with an injured and infected finger on his throwing hand after jamming it in a door last week, but was healthy enough to take swings against Santana. Polanco must return from his 80-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs on July 2 or be placed on the 10-day disabled list.

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"The good news today is kind of a two-front scenario," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Reports on Ervin, 35 pitches were good. Threw all his pitches. Talked to him earlier today and he said it was one of the better days he's had in a while. So, I was encouraged by that. Polanco was able to swing relatively pain-free. I think there were a couple of times when he has to reach for pitches, he gets a little irritation on that finger. We're gonna try to bring him along."

Santana will throw against hitters, including Polanco, again on Monday. After that, he's expected to start a second rehab assignment, which would begin with Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Molitor said Santana's first outing would be three innings, but they want to make sure his velocity is where it needs to be before he gets into game action.

"That's what we're going to monitor," Molitor said. "Before he gets into a game, we want to make sure he can get hitters out, even at a lower level. We need to make sure that velocity comes back."

As for Polanco, he's eligible to start a rehab assignment to get ready for his reinstatement, but his finger still isn't 100 percent. He's expected to start his rehab as a designated hitter and the Twins will monitor if he'll be healthy enough to be activated in Milwaukee on July 2. Polanco is out of Minor League options, so the DL is their only option if he's not ready to play by then.

"That's why we're hoping he can start DHing even if he's not ready to play in the field here," Molitor said. "We have 10 days to see how it unfolds and we all know that there are things that we have to consider on how we're gonna handle that once that day comes."

Worth noting

• Third baseman Eduardo Escobar was held out of the lineup against the Rangers on Friday after being hit on his right elbow by a pitch from Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello on Thursday. But Molitor was encouraged by Escobar's progress and he could return on Saturday.

Video: BOS@MIN: Escobar hit by pitch, later leaves the game

"I think probably a tad better than I expected," Molitor said. "He's sore and there's some limitation because there's still a lot of swelling there that impedes his ability probably to throw accurately, as well as take his normal swing. But I'm fairly optimistic that in another, roughly, a little less than 24 hours, that he might be able to start a game tomorrow."

• Left fielder Eddie Rosario returned to the lineup after missing Thursday's game with left shoulder soreness. It's an injury the Twins will continue to monitor, but it's not considered serious.

"I just think it's one of those things where we're going to try to stay ahead of those things as best as we can," Molitor said. "Just maybe some small program to keep that shoulder as strong as we can. It's just wear and tear."

• As part of the Twins' annual Hope Week, first baseman Joe Mauer, and his wife Maddie, hosted 30 families from Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare at Target Field on Friday afternoon. Mauer was joined by his current teammates such as Escobar and Brian Dozier, former teammates such as Justin Morneau and Corey Koskie, NFL players Ryan Harris and Chad Greenway and NHL players Zach Parise, Mark Parish and Paul Martin.

"Everything went great," Mauer said. "This is the third [time] we've done it and we've been able to raise more than $1 million. It was a good day for the kids out there and we had a lot of helpful sponsors. It was pretty cool."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Ervin Santana