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Johan honored to join Twins Hall of Fame

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – AUGUST 04: Johan Santana, former pitcher for the Minnesota Twins speaks as he is inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame before the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals on August 4, 2018 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Via MLB

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s a special weekend at Target Field, as the Twins honored one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history with former American League Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana officially getting inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Santana, the 31st member of the Twins Hall of Fame, arrived on Friday, and he was joined by several of his former teammates such as Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Brad Radke, Cristian Guzman, Luis Rivas, Juan Rincon and J.C. Ramirez as well as former manager Tom Kelly. Hunter, Cuddyer, Radke and Kelly are fellow Twins Hall of Famers. Santana was honored in a special pregame ceremony prior to the game against the Royals.

“Coming back, being here again, seeing my old friends — being inducted into the Hall of Fame is something I never would have thought about back then,” Santana said. “Now it happened and I was like, ‘Wow.’ Hard work pays off. That’s basically what it is. I’m very excited, looking forward to enjoy this time and see my friends, and just hang out and enjoy this.”

Santana, who won AL Cy Young Awards in ’04 and ’06, was a three-time All-Star during his eight seasons with the Twins from 2000-07. He was memorably acquired via the Rule 5 Draft prior to the ’00 season and became one of the most dominant pitchers of his era with an impossibly good changeup that was taught to him by former Twins coach Bobby Cuellar.

“Just an incredible get by the Twins, first of all, to get him through the Rule 5,” manager Paul Molitor said. “And find a way to get him established up here as his changeup developed and he became one of the more dominant pitchers for a fairly long stretch. You just had to marvel at what he was able to do. It’s a just honor for him, for sure, and someday we’ll see if the next level of Cooperstown comes calling for him, which I think there’s a good possibility.”

At his height of his run with the Twins from 2003-07, Santana went 82-35 with a 2.92 ERA and 1,152 strikeouts in 1,070 2/3 innings. He was also an All-Star from 2005-07 and he won his lone AL Gold Glove Award in ’07. Santana won the pitching triple crown in 2006, leading the AL in wins, ERA and strikeouts. His most memorable regular season performance was his 17-strikeout game against the Rangers in ’07.

“I’m excited for Johan,” said first baseman Joe Mauer, who caught Santana from 2004-07. “It’s well deserved. He was almost two different guys. On game day, he was all business and he was a bulldog out there on the mound. The other four days, he was a lot of jokes, a lot of laughing, a lot of smiling. He liked to keep things loose in the clubhouse. He was one of my favorite teammates. I’m happy and excited for him.” 
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