5/7 PREGAME NOTES: Santana vs. Sale, Filling Out the Starting Rotation and Buxton and Dozier Updates

Greetings from Target Field, where it is 57 and sunny. It should hover around the mid-60s by game time.

It’s Ervin Santana (R, 5-0, 0.66 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (L, 2-2, 1.38), two of the best pitchers in the American League.

“As a fan of baseball, you love to watch the top-end players, pitchers, whatever it might be. And every once in a while, you’re fortunate enough to get a matchup when you see a couple of best pitchers, at least here early in the season, going head to head,” said manager Paul Molitor.

“I’m gonna be more focused more on the game as a whole, but somewhere inside you realize it’s a good opportunity for fans that like baseball to watch a really good matchup today.”

So, a reason to come out the the ballpark today, especially in this weather.

Byron Buxton is back in the lineup today with the Twins, but Brian Dozier remains out with an ankle sprain:

And the Red Sox lineup:

Despite his status as one of the best pitchers in the big league, and the Red Sox’s big acquisition in the offseason, the Twins have been able to get to Sale in the past while he was with the White Sox.

“I don’t think guys like to talk about it too much, because you know what this guy is capable of,” said Molitor.

“Obviously with his transition to the Red Sox, he’s highly motivated to go out there and help that club.”

As for Santana, Molitor is realistic that his numbers are not sustainable throughout the year, but says he knows he’ll reliably give the Twins good innings during every start he has.

“He’s a manager’s delight in that he seems to find a way to give you a chance to compete and potentially win games every time he takes the baseball,” he said.

“We all know that somewhere along the way, that the run that he’s on is not gonna be quite as high-end, you’re just not gonna see those numbers sustained.”

Filling out the rotation

While Santana is securely intrenched as the team’s ace, the rest of the rotation needs to be filled out.

“We’re kinda looking at timing and how it’s gonna line up, as far as the choices that we have. Obviously we have [Adalberto] Mejia and [Jose] Berrios down there, and you got Tep (Nick Tepesch). Yesterday was a difficult one to kinda judge, given how it unfolded,” said Molitor.

“But we hope to have that figured out, so these guys can plan their routines moving forward according to when they’re going to pitch.”

Mejia had a poor start in his last outing in Rochester, and command remains an issue. Berrios is not being considered for Tuesday even with his 1.09 ERA and 0.788 WHIP in the minors. And Tepesch didn’t make it out of the second inning yesterday — albeit in a start where he hadn’t pitched in over two weeks.

Haley activated off the disabled list

The Twins could have stashed Rule 5 pick Justin Haley in Triple-A for up to 30 days, but they chose to activate him off the 10-day disabled list and keep him on the big league roster.

“Ideally we would have liked to have seen him get stretched out a little bit more. He was scheduled to pitch a couple of innings today, and talk about the possibility of when the right timing was for him to return, given some of our issues with pitching here in the short term, it expedited what we had to do,” said Molitor.

“His outing, as well as how good he feels, and the fact that it hasn’t been that long of a layoff allowed us to make the decision to bring him back.”

Buxton and Dozier updates

Molitor considered waiting to put Buxton back into the lineup until Tuesday, given that the Twins have an off day and want to make sure he’s recovered completely, but he was ready to go today and is hitting eighth today.

“Buxton’s doing a lot better,” said Molitor. “You could argue that 48 hours would be a good thing for him to wait until Tuesday, but he’s, in my mind, given how well he felt yesterday, he’s gonna play today.”

As for Dozier, he will not go on the disabled list, but probably won’t play until Tuesday.

“Dozier came in walking significantly better than yesterday, which is encouraging,” said Molitor. “The amount of swelling and discoloration, and discomfort yesterday got our attention. In his case, with the 10-day, you want to be as patient as you can, because if you can get him in five or six days, or even less, you don’t want to lose the whole ten days.

“With the off day tomorrow, we decided to be patient with his decision. He somewhat joked that he said he might be available later in the game today, but we’ll have to see.”

I’ll be covering the game today. Feel free to tweet me @tschreier3.

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