SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles are shelving right-hander Edgmer Escalona for the next three weeks because of inflammation in his right shoulder.
The 27-year-old Escalona's only spring training appearance was an unimpressive one. He allowed five runs – all earned – on four hits over one innings of work in Saturday’s Grapefruit League home opener against the Blue Jays.
So far this spring the Orioles have avoided any significant injuries, but this one definitely hurts Escalona's chances of making the major league roster on Opening Day.
He was still somewhat of a dark horse to make the club, but now Escalona likely won’t be ready to return before the final week of exhibition games.
The 6-foot-4, hard-throwing reliever was signed to a major league deal in November. He was 1-4 with a 5.67 ERA last season with the Colorado Rockies and is 1-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 100 relief innings over parts of four seasons with the Rockies.
Escalona is one of several pitchers in camp who is out of minor league options.
** I’ve heard that the Orioles' minor league deal with left-hander Johan Santana is nearly complete.
The holdup isn’t anything of concern, just finalizing some incentives that are a part of all minor league deals with veterans returning from injuries.
When Santana was healthy, he was one of the top pitchers in the game, winning two AL Cy Young Awards and finishing top six in Cy Young voting four other times.
But since the end of the 2010 season – when he had his first of two shoulder surgeries to repair and interior capsule – he hasn’t been healthy often.
But the way the Orioles see it, this is a low-risk deal. The Orioles aren’t blind to the fact that after two major surgeries over the past three years, Santana will likely not regain his old form. But if Santana can get anywhere close to his former self, he can help them.
This is also important to keep in mind: Orioles assistant athletic trainer Chris Correnti worked with Santana with he was with the New York Mets from 2008-10, so he is well versed in what made Santana successful in New York before his injuries.
Correnti will offer Santana a trusted trainer who knows his arm and can help him continue his rehab from a second shoulder surgery.
There’s no clear timetable for Santana’s return. Monday, an industry source said that June was a realistic target date, but since then I've also also heard that it could be earlier than that.
And while Santana’s fastball was clocked at just 81 mph during a bullpen session last week, a club official told me that as this point in his rehab that velocity is encouraging. If he continues to gain arm strength over the next few months and can improve his velocity a few more ticks and recapture the devastating changeup he had, he could be a helpful pitcher again.
** While you're thinking about it, I don't sense the Orioles are currently in on the other Santana --free-agent right-handed starter Ervin Santana -- who is still available but tied to draft-pick compensation.