Since return from injury, Santana off at plate

Since return from injury, Santana off at plate

MINNEAPOLIS -- Danny Santana looked lost at the plate during his first two games back from a knee injury that had kept him out since June 26.

The center fielder went a combined 1-for-9 with one infield hit against the Rays on Friday and Saturday. He was not in the starting lineup for Sunday's finale vs. Tampa Bay.

"We've seen this kid enough to know he was a little bit out of whack," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was kind of flat-footing everything. Coming off a knee injury, you get in some bad habits. Hopefully we can get him using his legs a little bit like he was before."

One could say the Twins might've seen this coming. Santana was 0-for-11 in three rehab games (left knee bone bruise) at Class A Advanced Fort Myers.

"You'd like 'em to be swinging good when they come back," Gardenhire said. "That doesn't always work out. Some guys go down, and it's about feeling healthy, it's not about the results. That's what their thought process is. A young kid like Santana, I wasn't too worried about the results. I wanted to make sure his knee was healthy, but obviously he got in some bad habits."

The manager said Santana would work with hitting coach Tom Brunansky and try to improve his lower-body movement. Minnesota hopes the promising young player can return to his pre-injury form, as he had a .315 batting average in 39 games this season entering Sunday.

"He is an igniter," Gardenhire said. 'There's no doubt in my mind when he was going good -- before he got hurt -- he was what got us started. He was on base. He could run. He had the whole package."

Alex M. Smith is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @asmiff. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.