Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said left-hander Johan Santana will throw five innings or 75 pitches Tuesday in an extended spring training game and then his next step will be determined.
Santana, a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, has an opt-out clause at the end of the month in the minor league deal that he signed in the offseason, but Duquette said he doesn’t believe that is a concern.
“That’s open for discussion. I think the June 1 date was a date we had in mind that he would be close to being ready for the big leagues,” Duquette said. “It’s a fluid situation.”
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Santana, 35, has not pitched in a major league game since Aug. 17, 2012 — a loss at the Washington Nationals when he was with the New York Mets — and he has been recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.
It’s expected that Santana would need an injury rehabilitation stint in the minor leagues before helping the Orioles this season. So far, he has not thrown more than four innings in extended spring training.
“He is making good progress, he is throwing his pitches,” Duquette said. “And this time out, he is going to be five innings or 75 pitches, and that will be a good test for him. He has been feeling good the day after, so that’s all good.”
Santana, who is 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA in 360 major league games, would immediately become the most accomplished pitcher on the Orioles’ staff. At this point, it’s unclear who would come out of the rotation, if and when Santana makes it back to the majors.
“He is a competent major league pitcher, and there is always room for them,” Duquette said.
Here's what Duquette said on some other topics:
On the catching situation:
Although the uncertainty regarding Matt Wieters’ health obviously is a factor, Duquette said that he traded for San Diego veteran catcher Nick Hundley because the Orioles are always trying to improve their options at catcher, a difficult position to fill.
“We always like to have depth at the position and, given Hundley’s availability and his proven veteran leadership, we thought he’d be good for our club,” Duquette said.
On trading Troy Patton:
Duquette said he felt he could move a left-handed reliever because of the emergence of T.J. McFarland, who can serve as a long man and lefty specialist, if needed.
“I think the development of McFarland and his capability to pitch out of the 'pen was a good development for us,” he said.
On Nolan Reimold:
Duquette said there is no exact timetable for the return of outfielder Nolan Reimold, who has missed much of the past three seasons with a serious neck injury. Reimold played his first extended spring training game Friday, and he homered and doubled.
“He had a good game the other day. I was encouraged by that. He hit the ball well, ran well,” Duquette said. “That was just his first game, right? But he played well.”