Johan Santana made what’s expected to be his final extended spring training start for the Orioles today, throwing 4.1 innings and 76 pitches against inexperienced minor leaguers in Florida.
Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports that Santana struck out eight and walked zero while allowing two runs on six hits, and his fastball was clocked at 86-88 miles per hour. The next step for Santana will presumably be a minor-league rehab assignment and a long-awaited return to formal game action.
Even while winning multiple Cy Young awards Santana was never a flamethrower, but at his peak he averaged 92-93 miles per hour. At the end of his time with the Mets he averaged 88-90 miles per hour, so at the very least Santana is relatively close to being back to where he was just before multiple shoulder surgeries.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.