The Twins have lost projected Opening Day starter Ervin Santana for 10-12 weeks after he had surgery on the knuckle of the third finger of his pitching hand Tuesday.
That means Santana could be sidelined until May 1.
Santana, an All-Star last season, had the surgery in New York City, performed by Dr. Charles Melone. The Twins said in a release that Santana "underwent a successful capsular release/debridement procedure to his right third finger MCP joint."
The release also read: "After ramping up his bullpens in advance of spring training, Ervin experienced discomfort in his right middle finger last week. This is something he had dealt with in the past and was reviewed via MRI and X-ray at the end of the season. It was determined at that time there was no injury to the tendon and an injection was the appropriate course of action. The injury is a result of repeated cumulative stress from pitching, not one acute event, and did not present again until this past week.
"Ervin was then re-examined by Dr. Melone and it was determined that the best course of action was to address this with a surgical procedure. He will begin rehabilitation this week. His expected return to major league game activity is 10-12 weeks from today."
Santana, 35, was 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA last season, and started the team's wild-card playoff loss to the Yankees, pitching only two innings. He led the American League in complete games (5) and shutouts (3).
Santana will make $13.5 million this season. His contract becomes guaranteed for $14 million in 2019 if he reaches 200 innings this season, now far more unlikely due to finger injury. He'll now probably be a free agent at season's end.
He pitched 211 innings last season.
The Twins' pitchers and catchers report to training camp in Fort Myers, Fla., on Tuesday.
The team was already in the market for a starting pitcher. Santana, who started 33 games last season, was expected to head a rotation that includes Jose Berrios (25 starts last season) and Kyle Gibson (29 starts). Also in the mix are Adalberto Mejia (21 starts) and Phil Hughes, who started nine games before a season-ending injury.
Several big-name starters -- including Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb -- are still free agents.
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