After injury, Tomko's arm 'was like lumpy gravy'

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Brett Tomko was having one of the best stretches of his 13-year career when he suffered an arm injury in the final inning of a complete-game shutout of the Rangers on September 14. The outing made him 4-1 with a 2.95 ERA in six starts for the A’s after being released by the Yankees, but Tomko had to be shut down for the final three weeks of the season with a pinched nerve that just recently healed enough for him to begin throwing again.
Tomko told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the recovery process has been “very, very slow” because “it was a really bad injury.” He added that the nerve damage caused his arm to atrophy to the point that a therapist said his “biceps was like lumpy gravy.”
Here’s more from Slusser:

Tomko still gets what he called “electrical shocks” in his forearm, and doctors told him the area could be numb for a year. That hasn’t stopped him from resuming throwing, and Tomko is hoping to sign with a team before or possibly during spring training. He has a few standing offers for minor-league deals … but he is aiming to be throwing off the mound by early March and he figures if he is throwing well and teams have a need by that point, perhaps he will find a big-league opportunity.

Tomko caught a tough break with the injury, but not being able to pitch down the stretch actually allowed him to post an ERA below 4.00 for the first time since he was a 24-year-old rookie in 1997. Prior to joining the A’s late in the season he had a 5.23 ERA in 20.2 innings for the Yankees, and before that Tomko was 4-12 with a 5.55 ERA in 2007 and 2-7 with a 6.30 ERA in 2008. In other words, the 37-year-old right-hander was a poor bet to have success in 2010 even before his arm turned into something you put on top of mashed potatoes.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.