UPDATE: Cora has confirmed that Santana will indeed begin a rehab assignment next week.
Red Sox minor-league signee Danny Santana will begin a rehab assignment with High-A Greenville when the 2021 minor-league season starts next Tuesday, according to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.
Santana, 30, signed a minor-league deal with the Sox last month that included an invite to big-league spring training.
Shortly after signing, however, Santana suffered a right foot infection in mid-March that required surgery as well as a stay in the hospital.
Since then, the Dominican native has been able to return to the field and has been rehabbing in Fort Myers. It would appear that he is now at a point where he can take it up a notch in regards to the level of competition he is facing.
“He’s going through his progression. He’s getting his at-bats,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Santana over the weekend. “He’s feeling good. Actually, I’ve been in touch with him every other day. And he’s progressing well.”
Originally signed by the Twins as an international free agent back in 2007, Santana has proven to be a super-utilityman of sorts over the course of a seven-year major-league career.
Over the last two seasons with the Rangers alone, the switch-hitter has played every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher.
In addition to playing everywhere in his time with the Rangers, Santana also put together one of the best season of his career with Texas in 2019.
Across 130 games spanning 511 plate appearances, the 5-foot-11, 203 pounder slashed .283/.324/.534 with 28 home runs, 81 RBI, and 21 stolen bases en route to being named the Rangers’ Player of the Year.
Last year, though, Santana was limited to just 15 games on account of a right elbow sprain and was ultimately non-tendered by Texas in December.
“A switch-hitter with speed and power,” Cora said Thursday afternoon. “We saw it two years ago. He was amazing. Against us he was really good. I do believe he’s a quality at-bat from the left side. He brings speed. We can run a little bit more. That’s what he does… Let’s see where it takes us. We need him to get healthy and get his repetitions. And we have to be patient and see where it takes.
“But he’s a good player,” added Cora. “He’s a player we recognized during the offseason just like the other two (Kiké Hernández and Marwin Gonzalez). It just happened his situation was a little bit different with the surgery. It’s a player we really like. And we do feel when he’s right, he can contribute to a championship-caliber team.”
Before going down with that right foot infection this spring, Santana seemed to have a legitimate shot at cracking the Sox’ Opening Day roster as a bench piece given his defensive versatility and ability to hit from both sides of the plate.
Now that he is on the cusp of getting back into game action, Santana’s Red Sox debut could come sooner rather than later if Franchy Cordero (.191/.255/.234, 25 K in 51 PAs) continues to struggle at the plate.
That being the case because Cordero can be optioned to the minors and — as noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier — the Triple-A season begins next week.
Speier also notes that Santana’s initial pact with the Sox included an April 30 opt-out if he is not called up to the big-leagues, but that opt-out date has now been pushed back “by a couple of weeks” to mid-May.
(Picture of Danny Santana: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)