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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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.