Twins’ Ervin Santana throws batting practice, preparing for July return

Ervin Santana has taken the next step towards returning to the Twins rotation when he becomes eligible July 4.

Santana, who was suspended 80 games for PED use back in April, threw a bullpen session with live hitters on Sunday, according to St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Santana had a 42-pitch live batting practice session Sunday at extended spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., and will take the mound again Wednesday, general manager Terry Ryan said.

"He’s starting to throw some and ramp it up," Ryan said Monday.

Santana is expected to start a few games at extended spring training before rehabbing with a minor-league team in mid-June.

Under MLB’s Joint Drug Agreement, Santana will be allowed to spend 16 days in the minors before his suspension ends, which should allow him to make three starts before he’s removed from the restricted list.

(h/t St. Paul Pioneer Press)