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.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.