Johan Santana made his Grapefruit League debut this afternoon and threw two scoreless innings against the Cardinals.
It was Santana’s first game action since pitching in the instructional league in October and his first appearance against major league competition since undergoing surgery to repair a torn capsule muscle in his left shoulder of September of 2010.
Santana gave up one hit and walked a batter while throwing 17 out of 29 pitches for strikes. The southpaw topped out at 90 mph with his fastball, but mostly sat in the high 80s. He left a number of pitches up in the zone, which resulted in some hard hit balls, but he was able to walk away from the outing unscathed.
Obvious rust aside, it was a pretty encouraging performance. The Mets are hopeful that Santana will be ready for Opening Day, but the timeline could obviously change depending on how his surgically-repaired shoulder responds to the increased workload.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.
It’s been a tough season for the mythology of Jonny Gomes‘ veteran clubhouse savior reputation.
First he signed with the rebuilding Braves and performed poorly while Atlanta fell apart after a surprisingly decent start. Then he was traded to the Royals, for whom he played just 12 games and hit .167. And now Kansas City has left Gomes off the ALDS roster.
It makes sense, though. Gomes’ only real use to the Royals would be as a pinch-hitter versus left-handed pitching, but manager Ned Yost rarely pinch-hits and will no doubt be more willing to use 25th man Terrance Gore as a pinch-runner in the late innings.
Beyond that, not many surprises on the Royals’ roster for their series against the Astros. They went with 11 pitchers, which means both Chris Young and Kris Medlen are on the roster. Jeremy Guthrie is not.