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Notes: Santana receives Spahn Award

Notes: Santana receives Spahn Award

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ARLINGTON -- Twins ace Johan Santana accepted the trophy for the 2006 Warren Spahn Award on Wednesday morning. Santana was unable to attend the gala presentation of the award earlier this year in Oklahoma, so the Oklahoma Sports Museum, which sponsors the award, arranged for an intimate ceremony at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Joined by many of his teammates, Santana accepted the trophy and immediately thanked his supporting cast.

"It's an honor for me to receive this award," Santana said. "It's also an honor for me to be with you guys, the Minnesota Twins. I want to thank all of you guys, my teammates. It is true, I couldn't have done anything without you guys."

The Warren Spahn Award is presented to the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball, based on wins, strikeouts and ERA. It is named after the late Warren Spahn, the winningest left-hander in big-league history with 363 victories.

It was the second time Santana has received the award. He also won it in 2004. Randy Johnson won the first four Spahn Awards, beginning in 1999. Andy Pettitte claimed the award in 2003, while Dontrelle Willis won in 2005.

"Santana is only the second Major League Baseball lefty to win this prestigious award more than once," said Richard Hendricks, president of the Oklahoma Sports Museum. "He has been a great pitcher already and is in the prime of his career. It's an honor to have him as the recipient."

Santana earned the 2006 Spawn Award with his 19 wins, 245 strikeouts and 2.77 ERA. His two Spawn trophies have coincided with his two American League Cy Young Awards.

Reliever Joe Nathan was among Santana's teammates at the ceremony, and he spoke afterward about being able to support his fellow pitcher.

"He knows how much we support him and back him," Nathan said, "So, to actually be able to go in there and show our faces when he was receiving the award today, it was pretty cool to be there."

No changes with off-day: The battered and bruised Twins pitching staff will get an extra day of rest with Thursday's off-day, but manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't expect any changes to the rotation.

"We have to see through the MRIs and all that stuff where we're at as far as pitching," he said. "But as far as skipping a guy in the rotation, [pitching coach Rick Anderson] and I have talked about it, and he wants to try to keep it as is."

Gardenhire feels too many changes to a rotation could yield negative results.

"When you start doing it, you know, you get guys out of whack," the manager explained. "You've got one guy going eight days, one guy going four days or five days, and then you get really out of whack. We're tying to keep it as is and keep them on line, if we can."

The day off also will be used to assess the growing injury situation of the club. Doctors will look at pitcher Dennys Reyes' MRI and decide on a course of action, and pitcher Glen Perkins and infielder Jason Bartlett both will have MRIs done.

Redmond filling in admirably: After going 1-for-4 Tuesday night, catcher Mike Redmond has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games. Despite that, the 36-year-old was not in the lineup for Wednesday's day game at Texas.

"His legs are a little sore today," Gardenhire said Wednesday morning. "He's got a pretty deep bruise on his thigh, and his legs were a little sore after the game last night."

Chris Heintz was slotted into the lineup for Wednesday, in part because he has experience with starting pitcher Boof Bonser.

"[Heintz has] caught Boof in the Minor Leagues," Gardenhire said, "So Heintz will catch today."

Until Joe Mauer is fully healthy and able to return, Redmond likely will be called upon again soon.

"He's done really well for us, swinging the bat and calling games like we thought he could," Gardenhire said of Redmond. "But we don't want to press him too much. He's 36 years old and that's a very demanding position."

Redmond attributes some of his success at the plate to simply getting more chances.

"I'm playing. I'm usually a backup player," Redmond said. "Every time you get an opportunity to play more, it helps."

Captain Consistency: Santana pitched seven innings Tuesday night, extending his streak of starts in which he's gone at least five innings to 101 games. The string dates back to May 29, 2004. The last time Santana was unable to last five innings was May 23, 2004, against the White Sox. Santana's streak is the longest in club history and the fifth longest in the Major Leagues in the last 50 years.

Up next: The Blue Jays travel to the Twin Cities for a three-game set beginning on Friday. Scott Baker (1-0, 2.16 ERA) will face Toronto for the first time in his career. The Baker that arrived at the Majors this year pitches down in the zone and commands all of his pitches. It's a far different look than the one Baker displayed during his struggles with Minnesota last season. The Twins hope to see more of the same aggressiveness from Baker. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT.

Shawn Smajstrla is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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