The Orioles added Santana to the 40-man roster Monday and placed him on the 15-day major league disabled list, just before he could have exercised an opt-out clause in the minor league deal he signed in March.
Santana, 35, will continue his rehabilitation process, making one more start in extended spring training this week before going on a minor league rehab assignment. He likely would make two starts for a minor league affiliate and could join the major league team around the time the Orioles open a three-game series on the road against the New York Yankees on June 20.
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"We've been down a long road with him, probably longer for him personally," Showalter said. There's a lot of things that went on before he came to us. I've got a pretty good understanding of where he is, and the time frame we're talking about now. It's a lot more definitive. He's crossed over a lot of hurdles."
The Orioles' starting rotation had a 4.44 ERA through Monday, ranking 25th among baseball's 30 teams, but the starters entered Tuesday's game appearing to make a turn. Over the previous four games, Orioles starters had allowed just five runs over 242/3 innings, pitching to a 1.82 ERA.
And Showalter suggested Tuesday that he might not need to bump an existing starter from the rotation when Santana is ready.
"He's not competing against the people up here. He's competing [on] if he's good enough to compete against [other teams]," Showalter said. "I don't think there will be anything difficult about it. … I've been hinting at going to six starters anyway. It's easy to solve. It's not a problem. Any time there's good pitchers available, I'm in, especially with his pedigree."
It would allow Santana extra rest as his makes a comeback from a second shoulder surgery in a three-year span. Santana hasn't pitched in a major league game since Aug. 17, 2012.
Hunter happy with rehab progress
Right-hander Tommy Hunter, currently on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain, threw a side session Tuesday in Texas in front of Orioles pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti — his second off a full mound — and also did some light pitcher's fielding practice.
Hunter will either throw another side session Thursday or start a minor league rehab assignment that day, Showalter said.
Hunter said he's pleased with his progress. Even though he won't be ready to come off the disabled list when he's eligible Thursday, he could rejoin the club as soon as Monday.
"Yeah, I am actually," Hunter said. "Four days ago, I think, was the last time I felt it. Five days ago. That's pretty awesome. It's pretty cool not feeling it, cause it [stinks] when you do."
Hunter has spent time on the disabled list for a groin injury in the past. He missed the first 82 games of the 2011 season with a right groin strain, so he said that has helped him to know what the recovery is like.
"I kind of knew," Hunter said. "It's the same treatment every time. There were some times [in the past] on the fourth or fifth day that I had to stop because you can feel it. You know it's not right. Something's not right."
Wieters extends throwing session
On Tuesday, catcher Matt Wieters had his third throwing session since being shut down last month.
And this time, he extended both distance and repetitions. Wieters made 10 throws from 70 feet, another 10 from 90 feet and 10 more from 100 feet, throwing to bench coach John Russell.
"Anytime I feel like I can go further, and feel better doing it, is a good thing," Wieters said. "Just going to keep trying to do that. The big thing at this point is to try to not have any setbacks and keep moving forward."