"It's really an honor to be the guy to start the first game, but I've never really worried about it," Santana said. "I've always followed Radke, and that's all you could ask for. I would have no problems with him being the No. 1 pitcher, but fortunately for me, I have the opportunity to start. There's going to be a lot of excitement but I know how to control my emotions."
The emotions may be in check, but it won't be an easy first-day start for Santana. The Twins
are in Toronto for their first series of 2006 to take on the potent Blue Jays. Additions
such as closer B.J. Ryan, third baseman Troy Glaus and starting pitcher A.J. Burnett have made Toronto a more formidable opponent.
"They can pitch, catch the ball and swing the bat," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's a very good baseball team. They put a lot of money into it this winter and it will be a fun
opening series for us against a good baseball team."
The Twins have made some changes themselves and are still waiting for the regular season to see just what kind of effect it will have on an offense that was often stagnant in 2005. Designated hitter Rondell White, third baseman Tony Batista and second baseman Luis Castillo are all expected to help improve Minnesota's ability to score runs.
The moves that the Jays made this offseason were significant but there's no doubt that one player is still the star of that show and it's the team's Opening Day starting pitcher -- Roy Halladay. The front-runner for the
2005 American League Cy Young before breaking his leg in a game near midseason, Halladay gives Toronto a true ace to lead
Santana and Halladay will give the Opening Day game two of the best pitchers in the American League. But even with such a strong pitching matchup, there is an added confidence
for the Twins just knowing that Santana will be on the mound in the first game of the season.
"Whenever he's on the mound, all of our guys feel like we have a great shot of winning," Twins catcher Joe Mauer said. "He's one of the best in the game."
This spring there was a different kind of preparation for Santana as he was the No. 1 starter for his native country of Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. The experience allowed Santana to prepare a little earlier and get some extra work
in on a few of his pitches. The result has been that Santana says he feels as good as he ever has, which may be good for the Twins and dangerous for their
"I'm ready to roll," Santana said.
Hitters, be warned.
LHP Johan Santana
16-7, 2.87 ERA in 2005
1-1, 6.57 ERA in 2005 vs. TOR
2-2, 3.82 ERA lifetime vs. TOR
LHP Roy Halladay
12-4, 2.41 ERA in 2005
1-0, 0.00 ERA in 2005 vs. MIN
4-0, 2.20 ERA lifetime vs. MIN
On the Internet
Twins probable lineup|
Official game notes
It's the beginning of April in chilly Toronto so don't expect a wide-open roof.
Wednesday: at Blue Jays, 6:07 p.m. CT
Thursday: at Blue Jays, 6:07 p.m. CT
Friday: at Indians, 2:05 p.m. CT