After missing all of last season following shoulder surgery Johan Santana was back on the mound today for the first time since September of 2010 and held the Braves scoreless for five innings in a no-decision.
Santana unraveled a bit in his final inning, walking No. 8 hitter Tyler Pastornicky and pitcher Tommy Hanson, but escaped the jam by getting leadoff man Michael Bourn to hit one back to the mound.
His fastball topped out in the high-80s, but that wasn’t uncommon for Santana even before the surgery and he racked up five strikeouts in five innings, including Dan Uggla twice.
Santana threw 54 of 80 pitches for strikes while allowing just two hits and two walks. Not quite vintage Santana from his Cy Young-winning days, but close enough that the Mets have to be awfully pleased with how he looked after a 570-day layoff.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.