MILWAUKEE -- The Orioles could be three weeks away from having a former two-time American League Cy Young Award winner joining their rotation.
With Johan Santana's opt-out clause in his minor league deal looming Friday, manager Buck Showalter said the club has presented the left-hander with a plan for the next few weeks that could have him with the Orioles — if things go well — by roughly June 18.
The plan is for Santana to throw one more game, approximately 85 pitches, in extended spring training before making his first start with an affiliate June 8 for Triple-A Norfolk at Durham. If that goes well, he'd go to Double-A Bowie on June 13 for a home game against Harrisburg, with the hopes of being ready for the Orioles by June 18 or 19, Showalter said.
"Ideally, the last outing would be six innings if the other club would cooperate," Showalter said. "If these three options work out, he'd be an option for us. It's one thing being able to get through it, it's another thing to have people evaluate whether it will work up here."
All of it is contingent, however, on whether Santana decides to accept the plan or exercise Friday's opt-out clause. The two sides are trying to hammer that out — but other teams could be interested in signing Santana if he opts out.
"He has got to approve it, they have to approve it," Showalter said. "So we're not there yet, but that's tentatively [the plan]."
Santana, 35, is attempting to come back from left shoulder surgery and has been rehabbing in Sarasota, Fla., with Orioles assistant trainer Chris Correnti, who worked with Santana when they both were with the New York Mets.
Santana, who threw 76 pitches in his last outing in extended spring training, has pitched in just 21 games in the majors since the end of the 2010 season because of injuries. But he is one of the most accomplished pitchers of his generation, compiling a 139-78 record and 3.20 ERA and AL Cy Young Awards in 2004 and 2006 while with the Minnesota Twins.
Showalter said he doesn't envision Santana in any role besides starter — assuming he can handle the workload physically.
"From my perspective: starter. But I won't be the sole decision-maker on that," Showalter said. "But knowing the history and talking to Chris Correnti and people that know him and what he has had done, and what the problems have been, it just doesn't seem to be anything else."
Samardzija rumors swirling
With the Orioles rotation struggling and the club in the thick of the AL East race, there are bound to be trade rumors.
The first came Wednesday with a CBS Chicago report that the Orioles are interested in Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs would want young, controllable pitchers, such as prospects Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Eduardo Rodriguez and Hunter Harvey.
The Orioles discussed Samardzija this winter, and they surely haven't lost interest since the 29-year-old has posted the majors' second-best ERA — 1.68 in 11 outings — for a starter this season.
But Showalter said he hasn't talked with executive vice president Dan Duquette about Samardzija this season.
"His name has not come up one time in Dan and I talking," Showalter said.
As policy, Duquette does not discuss players on other teams. However, he did reiterate his interest in developing his pitching prospects — and it likely would take a package of at least two highly regarded prospects to acquire Samardzija.
"Our young pitching is maturing," Duquette said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to use it to help out our own ballclub."
Last weekend, the Cubs did have one of their top talent evaluators at Low-A Delmarva to watch a few games, including one started by Harvey, the Orioles' first-round draft pick last year.
Peguero to remain on disabled list
Outfielder Francisco Peguero, who has been on the major league disabled list with right wrist tendinitis since the season began, will remain on the DL because he is dealing with hamstring tightness in both legs.
Peguero's minor league rehab assignment expires Thursday, but because he is dealing with a different injury, Duquette said Peguero will be recalled from the assignment and remain on the DL. Therefore, the team is not forced to either activate him to the major league roster or designate him for assignment since he is out of minor league options.
Duquette said Peguero will have the hamstring issue examined by team doctors Thursday in Baltimore. Peguero, 25, who was hitting .338 with a .387 on-base percentage in 16 games for Norfolk, was kept out of the Tides' doubleheader Tuesday.
The Orioles already have two right-handed-hitting reserve outfielders-designated hitters in Delmon Young and Steve Pearce.
Joseph talks about staying in majors
Rookie Caleb Joseph said he figured it was "50-50" that either he or fellow catcher Steve Clevenger would be sent down Tuesday when first baseman Chris Davis returned from the paternity list.
Joseph said it was a strange feeling when he realized he'd be the one to stay.
"It's a hard mix of emotions because Steve, we were just teammates," Joseph said. "He did so many things for me. I think we had a great relationship. He's pretty easy to be around. You're immediately torn between rivalry and your own personal achievements."
Around the horn
Showalter said he did not take Nelson Cruz out of Tuesday's game and replace him with David Lough in left field in the ninth inning for defensive reasons. Showalter said Cruz was dealing with calf discomfort. Cruz was fine Wednesday and homered in his first at-bat. … The last time two pitchers have pinch-hit in one game and started the next — like Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles' Bud Norris did Tuesday and Wednesday — was July 29, 1989, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Atlanta Braves' John Smoltz and the Cincinnati Reds' Tom Browning were the pitchers. … The Orioles outrighted reliever Evan Meek to Norfolk, meaning he was taken off the 40-man roster but remains with the Tides. He has 72 hours to decide whether to accept the assignment or become a free agent. … The Orioles' 40-man roster is now at 39. … The Orioles traded Norfolk catcher Johnny Monell Jr., to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday for cash considerations. Monell, who hit .209 with a .280 on-base percentage in 30 games with the Tides, will report to the Los Angeles Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque. He was taken off the 40-man roster in March. … Right-hander Dylan Bundy (elbow) will throw three innings or 45 pitches Thursday in his third outing in extended spring training. … Right-hander Edgmer Escalona (shoulder) traveled to Norfolk on Wednesday and is expected to begin a rehab assignment with the Tides on Thursday. … Outfielder Nolan Reimold played in left field during an extended spring training game Tuesday. …On Wednesday afternoon, the Orioles announced plans to host a 60th anniversary luncheon, which will recognize the club's history and honor members of the Orioles Hall of Fame. The event is set for noon Aug. 8 in the Warehouse at Camden Yards.