Santana still peeved despite solid outing

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After surrendering a career-worst nine runs in a 15-0 loss to the
Yankees last Sunday, Johan Santana had to face the questions all week
whether his recent struggles and loss of velocity were due to an
injury. Former pitching coach Rick Peterson even resurfaced this week
to stir the pot, telling ESPN 1050 that his surgically repaired left knee may be bothering him.

Well, Santana answered those critics on Saturday afternoon, hurling a
season-high 7 1/3 innings in a 3-1 tough-luck loss to the Rays. Santana
was solid despite the loss, allowing two runs on three hits while
striking out three and walking three. And those pesky questions about
his velocity? Answered them too by reaching 91-92 MPH with regularity.

After the loss, Santana addressed the media, still peeved about how things played out this week:

“You guys made a big deal out of it.
You even have people that don’t belong to this team talking and telling
what’s going on with me. What am I supposed to do? I think it’s not
professional. If you look around, you got professional players and
professional people on this ballclub that know exactly what they have
to do and what it takes for us to do our jobs.”

“And then to have someone that
doesn’t belong here say something and you guys believing what they’re
saying. I think it’s bad. But I know what I have to do to keep myself
in the game, and I hope you guys don’t forget that — because I know
myself well enough and better than a lot of people around here. So next
time you guys want to ask something, I’ll be more than happy to answer
questions. But don’t believe what people are saying around here. I
don’t play that game.”

Sonny Gray was denied insurance coverage for the World Baseball Classic

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics poses for a portrait during photo day at HoHoKam Stadium on February 22, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.

According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.

Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.

While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.

Report: Josh Hamilton likely to undergo another knee surgery

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.

More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.

Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.