While the Red Sox were in the process of losing a dramatic, extra-innings game to the Tigers at Fenway Park Wednesday night, an encouraging development transpired more than 900 miles away in Greenville, S.C.: Danny Santana began his rehab assignment.
The Greenville Drive, now the High-A minor-league affiliate of the Red Sox, were originally slated to open their 2021 season against the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Tuesday, but that game got postponed due to inclement weather.
So the Drive held their Opening Day ceremonies on Wednesday evening, and those ceremonies included the introduction of Santana to the Red Sox organization.
In a game started by top pitching prospect Jay Groome, Santana got the start at second base and batted out of the two-hole. He went 1-for-3 with a first-inning single, a popout, and a groundout before his night came to an end after five innings.
The 30-year-old utilityman originally signed a minor-league deal with the Sox back in March, but was hospitalized shortly thereafter due to a right foot infection. He also underwent an ulnar collateral ligament repair and augmentation procedure last September, as noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.
Prior to signing with Boston, Santana had spent the previous two seasons with the Texas Rangers, where he clubbed 28 home runs and collected 81 RBI in 2019 while playing every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher.
In regards to the Dominican native’s rehab, Red Sox manager Alex Cora indicated over the weekend that Santana will need a decent amount of time to get re-acclimated to the speed of the game.
“He needs at-bats,” Cora said on Saturday. “He needs a lot of at-bats. But I can’t tell you how many games. It’s more than two weeks.”
How Santana progresses from the UCL procedure he underwent last fall will factor into his timetable as well.
“I think he starts playing in the infield first and then he’ll move to the outfield obviously because of the arm,” said Cora. “But he’s in a good spot. He’s a full-go. It’s just a matter of the progression to do it right so we don’t push him too hard.”
Upon inking a minor-league pact with Boston earlier this spring, Santana originally had until April 30 to opt out of of his contract if he was not called up to the majors.
That opt-out date has since been pushed back to sometime in mid-May, according to The Boston’s Globe Alex Speier.
With that in mind, it should be interesting to monitor just how quickly Santana can work his way back to the point where he is potentially knocking on the Red Sox’ door.
Given the fact that he is versatile and hits from both sides of the plate, it goes without saying that Santana could provide the Sox with some much-needed bench depth once he is back in the full swing of things.
Of course, Santana being called up at any point would also require him to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster, so there would be some hurdles that would need to be cleared on that front.
(Picture of Danny Santana: Will Newton/Getty Images)