Notes: Santana could get 'pen work
All-Star left-hander may pitch in relief this week in Chicago
DETROIT -- Johan Santana will make his final start of the first half on Wednesday in New York against the Yankees, but that might not be his final appearance on the mound before the All-Star break.The Twins ace said on Sunday that he might pitch out of the bullpen this coming week in the Twins' three-day, four-game series at Chicago against the White Sox. It's the club's final series before the break. The revelation came after Santana was asked about being on rotation to pitch in the All-Star Game. Santana said he would like to be ready to pitch in the game, but he said his priority right now was helping out his team. "I might make a relief appearance or whatever it takes in Chicago," Santana said. "The important thing is to finish the first half of the season strong and try to win as many games as we can. I'm pretty sure we can make some adjustments [to pitch in the All-Star Game]. But, right now I'm focused on this week." Twins manager Ron Gardenhire admitted there had even been some discussion of starting Santana for Sunday's finale in Chicago. Most of that occurred before it was known that Santana would make the All-Star squad. The club decided against having Santana pitch on three days' rest, but Gardenhire didn't rule out the possibility of using Santana in relief in a big-game situation. The skipper said the chances are unlikely of that occurring, but it's an option nonetheless. "Maybe if we need an inning or two, we'll use him," Gardenhire said. "It's not something I've given a lot of thought to. He's one of the best starters in the game, and you'd hate to stick him out there and do something to him out of bullpen. Although he will do anything to help you win, because he wants to win." Santana said he still expects to go through his normal routine, including throwing his bullpen session on the regular day. But if the club needs him in a critical situation, Santana appears willing to take the ball. "I'm going to be ready for whatever the situation will be," Santana said. "A lot depends on how we get to Chicago after New York. Hopefully we'll be in pretty good shape."
Showcase time: The invitations for the Home Run Derby have not yet been extended, but if Justin Morneau has his way, he will be taking part in this year's event in San Francisco.The first-time All-Star was very receptive to the idea of showcasing his power skills in the marquee event. "I would love to, if they asked me," Morneau said. "I know I'll be incredibly nervous if I'm in it. But I've been in a couple of them in the Minor Leagues and it's a lot of fun when you are out there. If you get in a groove, there is no feeling like it." With Morneau's skipper on hand for the event, it could seem ideal to have Gardenhire pitch to the first baseman for the event. "He wants to hit home runs, doesn't he?" Gardenhire said with a laugh. "If he wants me to, I'll sure do it. But I think he wants someone who throws the ball straighter than I do. "I've got movement. I don't think hitters want movement when throwing BP. I'm not trying to get movement, it just seems to happen." On his way: Rondell White appears well on his way to perhaps joining the Twins in time for the start of the second half. White went 1-for-3 with a run-scoring double and two runs scored as the team's DH in the first game of Class A Fort Myers' doubleheader with St. Lucie on Saturday. The plan had been to have White play in both games of the doubleheader, but the decision was made for just one. Gardenhire said it wasn't an indication of any troubles for White. "They decided he had enough and why push it?" Gardenhire said. "It was a long first game so there was no sense in that." White played left field in Sunday's contest and went 1-for-2 over his five innings of playing time. Gardenhire said that White's ability to play in left field comfortably is a big factor in his return. After watching White struggle as a designated hitter at the start of the '06 season, Gardenhire wants to make sure they have options of where to play White. That's not to say White won't DH, but the club needs to know that there is options. "He knows and we all know that he needs to play left field to be successful," Gardenhire said. "Can he turn around and do it as a DH? We don't know that yet. But we'll try left field first." No way, Yo: The Twins also got a remarkable pitching performance in that Fort Myers doubleheader on Saturday. Right-hander Yohan Pino pitched a seven-inning no-hitter in Game 1. Pino walked four and struck out seven in the outing. Minor Award: Rookie League Elizabethton first baseman Rene Leveret was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Week for the week ending June 29. Leveret, 21, hit .370 with two doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs in six games for the E-town Twins. Coming up: The Twins head to New York for the start of a four-game series with the Yankees. Right-hander Boof Bonser (5-4, 4.65) will have quite a test in his first start at Yankee Stadium, as he faces off against Roger Clemens (1-3, 5.32 ERA) in the 6:05 p.m. CT start.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.