(AP) - The surprising Minnesota Twins, who are in second place in the AL Central, have added a front-line starter for the second half of the season.
Right-hander Ervin Santana has been reinstated after an 80-game drug suspension and is scheduled to start Sunday against the Kansas City Royals and try to give Minnesota a split of its 10-game road swing.
"It's a little different than making a trade, I think," manager Paul Molitor said Saturday. "Obviously, you're adding a good player to a club that you didn't have previous. We all knew this one was coming. It was just a matter of riding out the storm.
"The impact might be similar, but the mental part is different. It's not all of a sudden, hey, we traded for this guy. You just know you're going to have this guy available to you at some point."
Santana signed a $55 million, four-year contract with the Twins (43-38) in December after going 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA last season for Atlanta. The 32-year-old tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and sat out the first 80 games of this season.
He went 3-1 with a 1.89 ERA in spring training and was penciled in to be the Twins' No. 2 starter when MLB announced the suspension April 3 after he tested positive for the substance Stanovlol.
"It was tough you know like any other bad news people get," Santana said. "Everything has been very good especially with the way we've been playing right now. We just have to keep it up and keep going."
He said he got to spend more productive time with his family during the time off. How did Santana explain his suspension to his children?
"Like every other parent would say, `Don't do bad things' and that's it," he said.
Does Santana feel like he did a bad thing?
"What do you think?" he replied. "Let's leave it right there. It's in the past and I'm just moving forward. And I'm happy to be back."
Santana said "not at all" on regrets.
He went 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in three rehab starts with Triple-A Rochester, striking out 11 in 20 2-3 innings. Santana pitched eight scoreless innings with no walks against Pawtucket on Tuesday.
"All I know, I'm ready," Santana said of his Sunday start. "I don't know if I'm going to be midseason form or full-season.
Santana spent his first eight seasons with the Angels and was an All-Star in 2008. He went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA for the Royals in 2013.
Molitor said Trevor May, who went 4-7 with a 4.37 ERA in 15 starts, would be assigned to the bullpen with Santana now starting.
The Twins might be counting on Santana to go deep in his debut after six relievers combined to get 15 outs in Saturday night's 5-3 win after Mike Pelfrey gave up three runs without retiring a batter in the fifth.
The Royals (45-33) turn to Danny Duffy (2-4, 5.44 ERA) in their bid to split this four-game series. The left-hander is 0-4 with an 8.14 ERA in his last five starts, but he's also gotten two combined runs of support in his four losses.
Duffy was reached for four runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 4-0 defeat at Houston on Tuesday. He's 0-1 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts and five lifetime appearances versus the Twins, limiting Joe Mauer to two hits in 13 at-bats and getting the best of Trevor Plouffe (3 for 19, seven strikeouts).
Mauer, though, homered in a three-run first Saturday and went 4 for 5 to improve to .337 with 51 RBIs in 76 games at Kansas City.
The Royals have dropped five of six while scoring 12 runs in that span. They're batting .152 (7 for 46) with runners in scoring position during this funk, well off their .279 season average.