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What's next for Ervin Santana in slow-moving rehab process?

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins pitcher Ervin Santana was already scheduled to return to New York City on June 4 for his four-month checkup with hand surgeon Dr. Charles Melone.

The difference is that the 35-year-old right-hander will do so having just had his rehab assignment paused after two disappointing outings in which his fastball failed to crack 90 mph.

"We expect to see more velocity out of him," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "He is still in the early stages of pitching in games. I think about guys in spring training and their build-ups. I think he's below where he would want to be."

Upon revealing the Feb. 6 procedure to remove a calcium deposit from the knuckle of the middle finger of Santana's pitching hand, the Twins announced Santana was expected to return to "major league game activity" in 10 to 12 weeks. That would have placed his 2018 debut somewhere between April 17 and May 1.

Why the delay? Falvey said the original prognosis assumed Santana would get his "finger moving quickly," but the decision to place a "more formal brace" and cast on the hand delayed the timeline.

A new 30-day rehab window will open once Santana returns to minor-league action.

Mauer: 'I'm not there yet'

Joe Mauer's return from the disabled list might not be as imminent as the Twins had hoped.

The franchise first baseman was "disappointed" by the return of concussion-like symptoms during an early on-field workout Thursday afternoon at Target Field.

"Hitting, I felt pretty good, but taking groundballs and moving around is kind of when I started to feel some of that stuff, so we kind of backed off," Mauer said. "There's different levels that we've been attacking. Today we got a better feel of where it was at. I'm not there yet."

Mauer hasn't played since leaving mid-game on May 18 against the Milwaukee Brewers. He described his condition to reporters after that game as being neck and upper-back related, similar to whiplash, and traced it back to a diving attempt at catching a foul ball on May 11 at the Los Angeles Angels.

On Thursday, Mauer revealed for the first time what happened later that night.

"Obviously, my neck was what it was," he said. "(On) the drive home, the symptoms started to really kind of pour on. That's why you didn't see me for a couple days."

The Twins placed him on the 10-day disabled list the following day with a cervical strain and concussion-like symptoms. Asked directly if he believes he suffered a concussion against the Angels, Mauer suggested he had.

"Definitely having the symptoms," he said. "I think that's kind of how they do (differentiate): If you have the symptoms, then you probably had one."

Hughes deal

Including the competitive-balance pick (No. 74 overall) in next week's draft in the deal that sent struggling pitcher Phil Hughes and reportedly about $14.5 million to the San Diego Padres wasn't easy, Falvey said.

"It's always tough to give up draft picks, especially when you're sitting in that room prepping for the draft and thinking about players," Falvey said. "A draft pick is an asset, but to get the financial flexibility in being able to move some asset value around to help us in the near term, we felt like this was the right deal to make."

The Twins, who will pick 20th, also transferred the $812,200 slot value of the No. 74 pick to the Padres. That leaves the Twins with a total draft bonus pool of just $5.93 million, fifth-lowest among the 30 organizations.

The Padres reportedly took on roughly $7.6 million, including the pro-rated minimum salary, of the $22.14 million the Twins still owed Hughes through next season.


Tests on Byron Buxton's fractured toe revealed no changes in its condition during what he termed his three-week "experiment" in attempting to play through the pain. He will be reevaluated next week after a few more days of rest.

Shortstop Jorge Polanco (80-game steroid suspension) has been spending extra time working in Fort Myers, Fla., with minor-league infield coordinator Sam Perlozzo. Polanco's 20-game rehab assignment is scheduled to begin June 12 with a return to the major league roster pegged for July 2 at Milwaukee.

Right-hander Tyler Duffey was recalled from Triple-A Rochester for the second time this year after pitching to a 1.50 earned run average in 24 innings. Aaron Slegers, who worked 5 1/3 innings of long relief on Wednesday in Kansas City, was optioned back to Triple-A.