Tag: Johan Santana

Mark Mulder AP

Mark Mulder still mulling over the possibility of a comeback


Mark Mulder saw his comeback attempt come to an abrupt end last February when he ruptured his left Achilles tendon while doing agility drills prior to a bullpen session in Angels camp. The veteran southpaw is now fully recovered now and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s still thinking about giving his comeback another try:

We also saw Johan Santana go down with an Achilles injury last year. It would be nice to see both pitchers go out on their own terms rather than have physical issues get in the way. Here’s hoping they each get a chance to do that.

Mulder, now 37, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2008 and was forced into an early retirement due to shoulder issues. A two-time All-Star, he owns a 4.03 ERA with 103 wins over 203 starts and two relief appearances in the majors. He finished second in the AL Cy Young Award balloting in 2001 after going 21-8 with a 3.45 ERA with the Athletics.

Ron Gardenhire: Too much of the credit, too much of the blame

Ron Gardenhire

For a few years there, I saw it as my personal mission to the spread the gospel of Ron Gardenhire, then manager of the Minnesota Twins. From 2002 to 2010 or so, Gardy had an amazing run. The team won the American League Central six times in nine years.

And they won those championships with players who were, bluntly, not very good. In 2002, they won 94 games with an offense that couldn’t score (ninth in the American League) and pitching staff without a single starter throwing 200 innings. 

In 2003, none of the five starters who made at least 20 starts had an ERA less than 4.49, and only Torii Hunter managed 20 home runs. They won the division again.

In 2008, their rotation was Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker, an almost unpitchable Francisco Liriano, my buddy Glen Perkins who was soon in the minors reestablishing himself as a reliever, Kevin Slowey and Carl Pavano. They won the division.

In 2010, their closer Joe Nathan blew out in spring training, their former MVP Justin Morneau had a concussion and missed half the season. They won the division.

Twins fans would often to write to me then to say that the team was winning IN SPITE of Gardy, not because of him, and I believed that to a point. I sometimes think that, strategically anyway, managers in general hurt their teams more than they help — meaning that if they would fall asleep in the dugout they might do better than some of the ill-advised maneuvers that they try when wide awake. Gardy was an old-school type, meaning he would occasionally spit on advanced metrics and would talk a lot about the intangible value of Nick Punto.

But the team seemed to fulfill their potential year after year, at least in the regular season. Yes, they were playing in an often lousy division. Yes, it helped in many of those years to have 19 games with the Royals and Tigers and Indians. Yes, in the postseason they would collapse at the first hint of wind. But, honestly, they won six division titles. You look at those teams. Other than 2006 — when they had a legitimately great team with Joe Mauer and Morneau at full power and the good versions of Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano — show me a Twins team that you could win with in Strat-o-Matic. You telling me some other manager is getting more out of Christian Guzman and Boof Bonser?

Anyway, the last four years have been entirely different. The Twins have lost 92-plus games every year and have been general non-competitive. It hasn’t helped that Joe Mauer has aged five years at a time or that the Twins thought it was a good idea to give Ricky Nolasco a billion jillion dollars. But whatever. The Twins fired Gardy Monday, and it makes me sad, obviously, but it’s not like you could blame them. This is the deal with baseball managers. Maybe Gardy did get too much of the credit when the team winning. Now comes the time when he gets too much of the blame.

I suspect Gardy will get another shot with a team, though you never know about these things. Lately the theme seems to be to hire 1980s and 1990s All-Stars — Matt Williams (five times), Robin Ventura (1992), Brad Ausmus (1999), Don Mattingly (six times), Walt Weiss (1998), Ryne Sandberg (10 times) and so on. It makes you wonder if the days are gone when teams will hire scrappy middle infielders who couldn’t hit. Teams seem to be shifting toward player-manager types, once good players who the young players grew up watching.

Gardy comes from the Tom Kelly school — he was the valedictorian of the Tom Kelly school — where managers grump and demand and instill and bunt too much and occasionally fall in love with limited but gritty players. When you get the right players, the Gardy style can still win a lot of games. When you get the wrong players, the Gardy style can still lose a lot games. It’s almost enough to make you think it’s really all about the players.

Manny Machado to hit in simulated game today

Manny Machado AP

There’s no clear timetable for Manny Machado to rejoin the Orioles, but he’s about to take a step forward in his rehab from knee surgery.

According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, Machado will take two at-bats today in a simulated game against rehabbing left-hander Johan Santana. These will be his first at-bats in a competitive setting since he had the medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee repaired in October.

While this qualifies as progress, Machado hasn’t been cleared to run the bases. That will be the biggest step of all. Once that happens, the Orioles can think about sending him on a minor league rehab assignment. That still sounds a little ways off, though.

The Orioles have used Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty, and Steve Lombardozzi at third base so far this season. They are hitting .189/.189/.324 as a group.

Johan Santana tests his surgically-repaired shoulder by throwing off full mound

Johan Santana Getty

Johan Santana still has a long way to go before he pitches in another major league game, but he took an important step today in his recovery from his second shoulder capsule surgery.

According to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, Santana has advanced to throwing off a full-mound in Orioles’ camp. The southpaw is expected to throw two more bullpen sessions before having hitters track his pitches in the batter’s box. The next step would be facing live hitters.

Nearly one full year removed from surgery, Santana hasn’t had any setbacks with his shoulder. Kubatko writes that he could be ready for game action sooner than the Orioles originally anticipated, but there’s no way to know for sure until he starts to build up his workload.

“Put it this way: I feel good,” he said. “What that means, time will tell. I feel really good. So does that mean we’re going to be on the mound facing hitters soon? I don’t know. But I’m optimistic when it’s time that I’ll be ready and we’ll carry that through the season. Not just one game and one time. I want to do it the rest of the season.”

Santana hasn’t pitched in a major league game since August 17, 2012.

Johan Santana and Dylan Bundy are rehab buddies

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles

Johan Santana is one of the best pitchers of this generation and he’s coming back from multiple shoulder surgeries at age 35.

Dylan Bundy is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball and he’s coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery at age 21.

They’re both in Orioles camp and Adam Berry of MLB.com writes that they “have developed somewhat of a competitive relationship as they work their way back to game action.” Bundy is currently throwing from flat ground, whereas Santana has advanced to throwing from a half-mound, and so “Bundy was lobbying to catch up to Santana and throw off a higher mound.”

Not exactly breaking news or anything–both pitchers are hoping to make an impact for the Orioles in the second half–but little stuff like this always makes me smile.