Santana named Opening Day shortstop

Second-year player hit .319 in 101 games as a rookie in 2014

Santana named Opening Day shortstop

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Given his impressive rookie season last year and his numbers this spring, it comes as no surprise, but Danny Santana will be the Opening Day shortstop for the Twins, manager Paul Molitor said Saturday.

Santana, who hit .319/.353/.472 in 101 games as a rookie last year, has followed that up by hitting .341/.356/.455 with three doubles and a triple in 13 Grapefruit League games.

He'll be the starting shortstop over the incumbent Eduardo Escobar, who has also excelled this spring, hitting .302/.295/.535 with three homers, a double and 13 RBIs in 13 Grapefruit League games entering Saturday. Escobar was also solid last year, hitting .275 with a career-high 35 doubles in 133 games as the starter.

Escobar will head to a super utility role, and started in left field on Saturday to increase his versatility. In addition to shortstop, Escobar can also handle third base and second base, and has made five career appearances in the outfield.

Eduardo Nunez is also expected to see time as a super utility player this year, and has more experience in the outfield than Escobar with 20 career appearances in left and six in right, in addition to his time at second, short and third. But Escobar figures to get much more at-bats this year, Molitor said.

"We're trying to get him out there to get him more comfortable," Molitor said about Escobar in the outfield. "We had [Nunez] out there more last year once Escobar became the shortstop. For Nuney, it's possible he could see play out there, but he's also a guy who can pinch-run and pinch-hit. Hopefully we can find him some at-bats to keep him sharp."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.