Johan Santana hasn’t pitched since 2012 and isn’t going to be ready to begin the 2014 season, but that didn’t stop teams from checking in on the two-time Cy Young award winner’s progress yesterday afternoon.
Less than a year after a second shoulder surgery, Santana hit 81 MPH on the radar gun yesterday in a throwing session, and reports suggested that his signature changeup looked quite filthy yesterday.
Yesterday afternoon we learned that seven teams watched Santana’s throwing session, but only two teams–the Yankees and Twins– were identified in a report by George A. King of the New York Post. Earlier this evening, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman identified the other five teams, including the Phillies.
Recovering two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana met expectations and looked fine, according to a scout in attendance, during a bullpen session for at least seven teams — including the Orioles, Yankees, Rangers, Twins, Pirates, Phillies and Blue Jays.
Heyman also passed along this note from a scout, who wasn’t as concerned as King was about Santana not consistently reaching 80 on the radar gun.
Another early report cited low radar-gun readings to suggest that perhaps he didn’t have much (with velocity in the high 70s, topping out at 81), but one scout who saw him throw in Fort Myers said he appears in excellent shape and just needs to build arm strength.
Per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, there has been speculation that Santana could be ready to pitch by early June, but his agent Peter Greenberg isn’t ready to commit to anything.
“He’s going to take it conservatively this time,” Greenberg said. “There’s no real time frame or schedule. He’s not rushing things. It’s hard to put a date on it, but he is throwing and progressing well and feeling very good.”
Given that date, one would assume that there will be at least one more throwing session for Santana, that could give teams a clearer look at how effective he could still be at the big-league level. For teams like the Phillies, who have questions at the bottom of their rotation with very little certainty with any of the likes of Robert Hernandez, Miguel Gonzalez, or Jonathan Pettibone, it may make sense to keep tabs on Santana’s progress—at least as an insurance option.