Santana heading to Triple-A to prepare for return

Twins targeting July 5 start after righty finishes suspension; Sano approaching callup

Santana heading to Triple-A to prepare for return

ST. LOUIS -- When Ervin Santana is done serving an 80-game suspension in early July, expect to see him join the Twins' rotation immediately. That was the message manager Paul Molitor reiterated on Tuesday regarding Santana, who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug before the season.

A July 4 game at Kansas City would be the Twins' 81st game of the season, and if Santana's health permits it, the Twins would like to plug him in on July 5 for the third game in the four-game series.

Santana was on his way Tuesday to Triple-A Rochester, where he'll begin pitching in games to prepare for his return.

"I would think that if his starts go well in terms of health, not so much in terms of results -- obviously you look at them somewhat -- when it's time for him to come here and pitch, that's probably what's going to happen," Molitor said.

What that means for the rest of the rotation is yet to be determined, Molitor added.

"We're going to have decisions to make as far as how that's going to play out with the people that we have," he said.

Worth noting

Byron Buxton could be joined by another one of his teammates from Double-A Chattanooga before too long. The organization's No. 2 prospect, Miguel Sano, is batting .257 with 12 home runs this season, and Molitor said they are monitoring him closely.

Sano's monster home run

"Every day that goes by, he's closer to getting here," Molitor said. "That's kind of a general answer, but whether it's in a couple weeks or be it September, we've been looking for him to get consistency."

David Cobb is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.