Baltimore County

Johan Santana says he has 'nothing to lose, a lot to gain' from comeback

The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. – Johan Santana met with the media Wednesday for the first time since he signed a minor league deal with the Orioles.

Earlier Wednesday, Santana participated in his first spring workout with his new club, throwing long toss and participating in conditioning drills with Dylan Bundy.

Here's what Santana had to say:

On what led him to signing with the Orioles:
One of the biggest things is [that] they understand exactly where I am as far as my rehab and everything. And then they've got the confidence that they'll be able to help me to come back. We're on the same page and I'm very happy for that. Also, Chris Correnti, who is an assistant trainer, I've worked with him in the past, so we've been together and working in some rehabs. Definitely, I feel good about it.

On whether he feels good about his progress:
Yeah, definitely. We still have some way to go but I've been throwing off the mound and getting my strength back, and so far everything's been good. We don't know how long it's going to take, but we're on the right track.

On whether he believes if June is a realistic return time:
I hope so. There's nothing written down right now. I've got to go one day at a time and make sure every day is a good one and we'll see when we'll be ready. Right now, I'm throwing off the mound but I'm not facing hitters or anything and the intensity is not there yet. But the good thing is I feel good, and once you start building up and getting into baseball, it definitely should catch up quicker.

On how much velocity he believes he will have to regain:
Honestly, I have no idea. Only time will tell how fast I will throw. But as long as I don't feel anything in my arm, I'll be able to go out there. I know what to do. And again, you've got to make adjustments. There's no question about it. That's what I'm going to do. But right now, I don't really know what my velocity will be. This is just a process that we have to build up everything, and then we'll see how it goes.

On potentially joining the Orioles down the stretch:
That’s a good situation that might happen with me. It could be sooner, it could be later. This team is going to contend. And I am going to prepare to try to help as much as I can in any way. So whenever it is time for me to join the team I’m going to help as much as i can and hopefully it will be sometime soon.

On if it was important to him to join a potential contender:
No question. You never know what’s going to happen and injuries are part of the game. Definitely being in this situation is good for me. I don't even know when I am going to pitch again, but I hope I will do it and do it for this ballclub. And it means a lot to me. Because I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know when my career is going to end. So you just got to take a chance and I think I’m in a good situation here.

On learning from last year’s situation, when he tried to come back and had to have surgery again:
You got to take one step at a time. You got to listen to your body. Something was wrong. We didn't know what it was until we saw the doctor and the medical point [of view], and they said there was something else in there. It was a tough situation but I did my best and they went in there and fixed it and now you start all over again. I’m just starting a new chapter of my career. now, I’m in Baltimore and I’m very happy about it.

On if he was afraid his career was over:
I never thought about it, but it was there, but I was told by the doctor the surgery was successful, and it was going to be up to me to come back, and that’s all I needed to hear. He told me it’s not about being a tough surgery or whatever, it’s just about how you’re going to handle it, and how much you put into it, and I really have worked hard to be up to this point, and I’m not done yet. I don’t want to go out in the game like that. I want to go out of the game on my own terms, knowing this is going to be my last game, knowing this is going to be my last year, and not just not knowing maybe that my last game was my last one. I don’t even know who I faced, and when it was; I might not want to remember.

On whether he believes he can help mentor young pitchers in the meantime:
I can help any way. We’re definitely here, and I’m happy for the opportunity and they’re going to be my teammates, and their success is going to be my success and vice-versa. This is a team thing, and you know, you’ve got some good guys, good arms, and you’ve just got to take it through the whole process and get experience, and I’ll be happy to share everything I know.

On whether he spoke with anyone else who went through the same procedure, like Bret Saberhagen:
I haven’t talked to him. When we talked to Dan Duquette, he told us that he had that kind of experience with him. He’s pretty optimistic that I’ll be able to come back, and the work ethic that we have will definitely help a lot. We’re working it as a project, I guess. You could call it a project or whatever where we have to build it up and see how it goes. Nothing to lose, a lot to gain, so that’s the way we’re looking at it.

On if he has any apprehension in facing live competition:
I went through it before so I’m just happy and anxious to come back and compete. Once I am there I don’t think about too much. I just compete and go, so whatever happens, happens. To me, I love this game so much and I just have fun every time I am out there so that’s what I’m going to do.

On whether he will continue his rehab in Sarasota once the season begins:
I’m going to be here until we start pitching and competing. But as of right now we are going to be here the whole time until we know we are going to be able to compete.

On whether pitching as a reliever is a possibility in his mind:
The main thing here is to make sure the shoulder is back to being healthy. And then after that we will see how it goes. Definitely, my intention is to be a starter. There is no question about it, but at the same time we’ve got to make sure we are capable to do that in the long term. So I don’t really know as of right now. We’ll make adjustments as we go. But definitely the main focus here is getting the strength back. So that’s what I’m going to focus on.

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