Santana doubled with one out against Yankees left-hander Vidal Nuno and successfully stole third base. But he dived headfirst into the bag, and it appeared his own helmet caused the cut above his eye as it flew off while sliding.
Aaron Hicks replaced Santana as a pinch-runner, and he took over in center field for his first game action since suffering lower back pain while taking batting practice before Wednesday's game against the Rangers. Hicks went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a walk.
Santana was leading off for the first time in his career, and it moved Brian Dozier down to the two-hole for the first time since April 18 and for just the third time this season. Joe Mauer also moved back to hitting third for just the fifth time this year and the first time since May 10.
Hicks told Twins manager Ron Gardenhire that his back is no longer a problem, but he wasn't ready to hit curveballs in early batting practice, so Gardenhire initially left him out of the starting lineup.
"Hicks is fine," Gardenhire said before the game. "He took early BP. ... His back is fine, but he just didn't want to see breaking balls. But I called the Yankees, and they said they're gonna throw some, so he's not playing."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.