Erv ball: Santana likely Twins' Opening Day starter

Erv ball: Santana likely Twins' Opening Day starter

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins manager Paul Molitor essentially revealed that veteran Ervin Santana will be the club's Opening Day starter for a second straight season, but he hasn't told the right-hander about the decision in person yet.

Santana was easily Minnesota's best starter in 2016, posting a 3.38 ERA in 30 starts. He also started on Opening Day for the first time in his career, but his outing in Baltimore was cut short because of rain after only two innings. He'll be looking for a longer outing when the Twins open the season against the Royals on April 3 at Target Field.

"I think it's a fairly obvious choice at this juncture," Molitor said. "It hasn't been communicated. I haven't felt the need to do that. Gosh, it's Feb. 17."

Santana, 34, struck out 149 and walked 53 in 181 1/3 innings last year. His 3.38 ERA equaled his 2011 season as the second-lowest mark of his career, as he had a 3.24 ERA with the Royals in '13. The 12-year veteran has a career 4.09 ERA with 133 wins with the Angels, Royals, Braves and Twins.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. 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.