Johan Santana has begun throwing off a mound

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Johan Santana took an important step this week in his recovery from surgery to repair a re-tear of the anterior capsule muscle in his left shoulder. He provided the update via his Twitter account yesterday:

We heard in late December that Santana was close to making a decision on a minor league deal, but at this point he might try to throw for teams before signing anywhere. A reunion with the Twins has been mentioned as a possibility, with GM Terry Ryan recently saying that it would be a “good fit for both of us,” but he doesn’t expect Santana to be ready until midseason.

Santana had his surgery last April, so he’s about 10 months removed right now. He went 19 months between starts in the majors after his previous surgery in 2010, but he managed to pitch in minor league games after 11 months.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.