Santana's return has Twins weighing options

Among potential strategies is using six-man rotation until ASG break

Santana's return has Twins weighing options

CINCINNATI -- Right-hander Ervin Santana is set to make his return from his 80-game suspension on Sunday against the Royals, and manager Paul Molitor said the Twins are weighing their rotation options.

Santana made his third and final rehab start with Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday, tossing eight scoreless innings, which sets him up to start in Kansas City on Sunday. Molitor said the Twins could decide to move a starter to the bullpen or option one to Triple-A Rochester, and he said they're also considering a six-man rotation in the short term.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan has indicated he's against a six-man rotation, but in this case, it would just be for a week heading into the All-Star break to give them more time to make a decision.

"We have options about the rotation," Molitor said, "whether we're going to try to go six men to the break, or if we're going to go with five. Or if we do move a guy out to go to five, is he going to go to the bullpen, or are we going to send him out? So there's a lot of things we're looking at as options that we still haven't finalized."

Molitor added that it's a good problem to have, and the Twins are excited that Santana pitched so well in his three rehab starts. Santana had a 1.84 ERA in 20 2/3 innings, with 11 strikeouts and four walks. He scattered five hits and walked none on Tuesday.

"I just had a chance to look at the numbers, and they jump out at you," Molitor said. "He was efficient and obviously effective. His command must've been good, because he didn't walk anybody. I think everybody is excited to know we're getting a pitcher of Ervin's caliber to join our club over the weekend."

Molitor said he's unsure if Santana will address the entire team once he returns, but he doesn't think it's something the right-hander necessarily needs to do.

"I have no idea," Molitor said. "I've had some communication, primarily through texts, over the past couple of months. I've talked to him a couple times. But I haven't really asked him about his desires in that regard. But if I were a player, I wouldn't expect it. I'd be excited to have him come back. We're far enough removed from when it happened, I think for the most part we're ready to move on and hope he comes up here ready to contribute."

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.