Back when the Orioles signed Johan Santana to a minor-league contract in early March he was reportedly topping out in the low-80s with his fastball, but now things are looking a bit more promising for the two-time Cy Young winner’s comeback.
Santana threw two innings in an extended spring training game yesterday and Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that “he was clocked at 86 to 89 miles per hour” in what was his first game action.
That’s still not at Santana’s pre-shoulder surgery peak, but it’s close enough to be very encouraging and, even if he doesn’t add any more velocity, could be enough to let him succeed in a relief role.
Santana hasn’t thrown a big-league pitch since August of 2012 and the Orioles will be in no rush to push along his recovery process, but the 35-year-old could be a factor in the second half.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.