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Sticking with Twins, Ervin sees Classic foe anyway

Santana, who opted out of WBC 2017 to better prep for season, allows first runs of spring
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Ervin Santana opted not to pitch for the Dominican Republic in this year's World Baseball Classic, but he got a taste of international play on Thursday in the Twins' 10-7 win over Team Colombia at Hammond Stadium.

Santana, coming off a career year in which he posted a 3.38 ERA in 30 starts, decided not to pitch in the Classic, as he wanted to put his focus toward a strong start to the season with the Twins. The righty was mostly solid against Colombia, but he allowed his first runs of the spring, surrendering two of them on four hits, including a solo homer to Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro on an 0-2 fastball in the fourth.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Ervin Santana opted not to pitch for the Dominican Republic in this year's World Baseball Classic, but he got a taste of international play on Thursday in the Twins' 10-7 win over Team Colombia at Hammond Stadium.

Santana, coming off a career year in which he posted a 3.38 ERA in 30 starts, decided not to pitch in the Classic, as he wanted to put his focus toward a strong start to the season with the Twins. The righty was mostly solid against Colombia, but he allowed his first runs of the spring, surrendering two of them on four hits, including a solo homer to Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro on an 0-2 fastball in the fourth.

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"I have goals," Santana said. "I want to pitch better in the first half. I want to be here to work on stuff."

Video: TOR@MIN: Santana discusses his preparation for spring

Santana, lined up to be Minnesota's Opening Day starter for a second straight year, had a 4.06 ERA in 16 starts before the All-Star break, and a 2.65 ERA in 14 starts the rest of the way. He also missed the first half of the 2015 season after being suspended for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

So Santana is using the long spring to be sharper heading into the regular season, and he enjoyed his test against a Colombia team he was largely unfamiliar with because several of its players are still in the Minor Leagues. Of the batters he faced, Donovan Solano, Jhonatan Solano, Giovanny Urshela and Alfaro have big league experience.

"It's not difficult at all [to prepare] because you have to face them some time anyways, and a lot of them are in the big leagues," Santana said. "It was good. I got a lot of ground balls."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Ervin Santana