“I was really excited about being able to compete without any screens behind the catcher or anything and actually having an umpire behind the plate,” Santana said Tuesday in Sarasota, Fla. “I’m very happy to get the first one out of the way.”
Santana continued to improve on his fastball velocity, throwing in the 86-89 mph range Monday. But more importantly, his changeup sat at 75-76 mph.
“It’s always good to see you’re making an improvement. When I’m on the mound and competing, I’m not thinking about it,” Santana said. “When I’m competing, it’s me against the hitter, so I’m trying to work my way into everything I do, so you don’t know what you’re throwing when you’re pitching. … I knew that I had the command going along with the velocity you guys are talking about. So that’s a good mix.”
Because this was his first extended spring training outing, the club believes Santana can still pick up some velocity on his fastball before he's able to be an option for the major league club.
Facing Minnesota Twins extended spring training hitters Monday, Santana could tell that his changeup was effective.
“I’ve seen the reaction with the hitters, and that’s what you want to see,” Santana said. “You want to see the kind of swings they’re taking. This is a different level. It’s not the major league level, but at the same time, you want to see how your pitches are and how you can command them. That’s the key.”
Santana would likely have to pitch five innings before he is able to join a minor league affiliate for a rehabilitation assignment.
Davis takes swings, makes throws
First baseman Chris Davis continued to progress from a strained left oblique muscle with added baseball activities before Tuesday’s game. Davis took 25 swings in the indoor batting cages and made 30 throws on the field.
“He’s right where he needs to be in the process,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m not going to say he’s ahead or behind in the process. He’s moving in a good manner, and he’ll make some more progression [Wednesday].”
While Showalter said he’s encouraged by Davis’ progress, he said that the possibility of Davis returning by Sunday, when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list appears to be a “long shot.”
Davis likely still would need to go on a brief minor league rehab assignment before he is activated.
“He’s in a good spot in the process, comparatively speaking,” Showalter said. “We’ll see each day. He had a good day today. He’s going to need some at-bats, but I don’t think he’s going to need that many, probably two or three days, tops.”
The Orioles considered leaving Davis in Florida at the club’s complex in Sarasota to continue recovering, but Davis will remain with the team and return to Baltimore before going on a rehab assignment.
O’s recall McFarland, option Brach
Before Tuesday’s game, the Orioles recalled left-hander T.J. McFarland and optioned right-hander Brad Brach to Triple-A Norfolk.
The move provided the club with much-needed bullpen depth. McFarland was available as the team’s long reliever behind starting pitcher Chris Tillman.
“The way our bullpen was constituted, we didn’t have any length, especially with the 13 days in a row,” Showalter said. “I think there could be some corresponding things as we go forward the next day or two, but we’ll see what happens the next day or so.”
The team was able to recall McFarland on Tuesday because he had just completed the mandatory 10-day window that players must remain in the minor leagues after being optioned.
Showalter said there was some consideration to go to a 13-man staff and play with a short bench, but he wants to make sure third baseman Manny Machado gets some games under his belt after coming off the DL last week.
“We could go to 13,” Showalter said. “There’s always that possibility. We’re going to err on that side [of caution], the more we get our arms around Manny being OK and everything’s fine there. We could feel a little bit better in the infield. I hope we pitch real well — the starters — we don’t need to change anything. “
Around the horn
Right-hander Dylan Bundy threw 50 pitches Monday and is set for another 50-pitch bullpen session Thursday. The next step for Bundy would be throwing batting practice next Tuesday, which would be the first time he has faced live hitters since March 2013. He would throw at least two live batting practice sessions before he could pitch in a simulated game. … Showalter said Norfolk right-hander Kevin Gausman will return to the Tides rotation Saturday after a bout with focal pneumonia. He will have two work days before he makes that start. … Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold (neck) saw his first simulated game action in several weeks, taking five plate appearances Tuesday. ... Outfielder Francisco Peguero (right wrist) had four at-bats in an extended spring training game Tuesday in Sarasota. He is scheduled to play nine innings Wednesday. … Right-handed reliever Luis Ayala, who is on the minor league disabled list with neck stiffness, has thrown five outings in extended spring training games, but he doesn’t appear to be an option to help the Orioles at this time.