Orioles want Johan Santana to push back opt-out date ahead of possible mid-June call-up

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Johan Santana can opt out of his minor-league contract with the Orioles on June 1 and he’s clearly not ready to be called up to the majors yet, so the team is hoping that the two-time Cy Young winner is willing to push back to opt-out date to continue rehabbing from multiple shoulder surgeries.

Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports that the Orioles have presented Santana with a planned schedule in which he’d throw 85 pitches in an extended spring training game Monday and then begin a minor-league rehab assignment with starts at Triple-A on June 8 and Double-A on June 13.

Then, if those outings go well, he could be called up to join the Orioles’ starting rotation as soon as June 18.

There had been some talk of the Orioles prepping Santana to take on a bullpen role, in part because he might be better suited for that at this point in his career and in part because it would allow him to return to the majors more quickly. However, manager Buck Showalter told Dubroff that Santana is now being viewed as a starter option only and apparently the Orioles have liked what they’ve seen from him enough to think he can contribute pitching every fifth day.

Assuming that he agrees to stay in the minors for a while longer, that is.

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Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.