E. Santana continues to throw BP sessions

E. Santana continues to throw BP sessions

MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Ervin Santana is continuing to throw live batting-practice sessions as part of his throwing program to get ready to return from his 80-game suspension for the use of a performance-enhancing substance.

Santana threw a 60-pitch live BP session on Wednesday, and is throwing again this weekend to mark his third time facing batters. He's eligible to return on July 4.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan said that if everything goes according to plan, Santana could make his first start in extended spring training next week. He's expected to start a Minor League rehab assignment in mid-June, as he gets a 16-day rehab assignment to get ready for his return, per Major League Baseball rules.

The 32-year-old signed a four-year, $55 million deal before the season. His suspension was announced on April 3, just three days before Opening Day. He was slated to be the club's No. 2 starter behind right-hander Phil Hughes.

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