Tests performed on outfielder Anthony Santander’s sore right elbow revealed only inflammation, and the Orioles’ Rule 5 draft pick could return to games as soon as Monday.
An MRI-arthrogram, in which a dye is injected to reveal a clearer picture, was done Thursday and camd back promising, Santander said Saturday morning.
“I feel much better today,” Santander said through interpreter Ramon Alarcon. “Just an [MRI] and there was only small inflammation on it because I have so many days without throwing. But [I’m] feeling better now. … I think it’s just a matter of a few days.”
The switch-hitting Santander, 22, had a slow start to this spring, striking out in 10 of his first 22 plate appearances. But he then homered in back-to-back games last Saturday and Sunday. He is 7-for-28 (a .250 batting average) with two homers and a team-high seven RBIs overall this spring.
Santander hasn’t played since Tuesday.
Since he’s coming off offseason shoulder surgery, he has yet to play the outfield. That's something manager Buck Showalter said he hopes Santander will do beginning this week as the Orioles try to figure out whether they can carry him on the 25-man roster.
"That’s what I’m hoping,” Showalter said. “Otherwise it’s going to be a really hard evaluation for us with the Rule 5."
“It’s very important for me because the team selected me in the Rule 5 for something and I really want to show them what I can do,” Santander said. “But the reality is that it’s out of my control, so I’m just taking it a day at a time.”
Santander’s shoulder problems were well known, but he revealed he previously had two surgeries on his elbow to remove bone chips.
When the Orioles drafted Santander from the Cleveland Indians and Aneury Tavarez from the Boston Red Sox, the team was in need of outfield help. But since then, the Orioles have placed a focus on adding more veteran outfielders, signing Craig Gentry and Michael Bourn to minor league deals.
Most recently, the club experimented with first baseman Trey Mancini in right field and signed Pedro Alvarez to play the outfield exclusively. Alvarez will make his first Grapefruit League start in right field Saturday against the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field.
That will make it extremely difficult for the Orioles to carry one – let alone both – of their Rule 5 selections. However, they could find a way to keep Santander, at least in the short term, by placing him on the 10-day disabled list. A player must be on the major league roster for 90 days to meet Rule 5 requirements.
“We definitely talked about that,” Santander said. “But we understand the situation that we’re in. It’s a competition right now. Both of us could make the team. At the same time, we could be returned to our previous team, so we understand it’s a tough situation, but we just go out there and work hard.”