When you were once as good as Johan Santana was, it's a good bet some team will be there, waiting to offer you another chance. For 2015, that team is the Toronto Blue Jays.
Santana has agreed to join the Blue Jays on a minor-league deal with an invite to major-league spring training. It's the first step in either a feel-good comeback story or another stalled attempt by Santana to reclaim his MLB glory.
Santana, 35, didn't pitch in the big leagues in 2013 and 2014, but not for lack of trying. Shoulder surgery prevented him from taking the field in 2013 with the New York Mets. He signed a one-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles last year, but tore his Achilles tendon in June when the O's assigned him to extended spring training. Santana also missed the 2011 season because of shoulder surgery. He returned to pitch with the Mets in 2012, throwing a no-hitter but posting a 4.85 ERA in 29 starts.
This is a total gamble by the Blue Jays, since it's not remotely clear what kind of pitcher they're getting. His pedigree is well known — he's a two-time Cy Young winner who led the league in strikeouts for three straight years with the Minnesota Twins.
But coming off two shoulder surgeries and the Achilles injury, plus missing three of the past four seasons, he's a mystery. That's not to say he can't help the Jays, who have some wiggle room in their rotation, because he absolutely can. R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle are the veterans of the staff, with Marcus Stroman coming off an impressive rookie year. Youngsters Drew Hutchinson and Daniel Norris are hoping to find a place. The Jays also have Marco Estrada, who they got in return for Adam Lind.
What Santana contributes depends on his health and his stuff. He spent some of the winter pitching in the Venezuelan league, where he hit 90 mph and attracted scouts from MLB teams, before halting his efforts because of a sore shoulder.
As you can see, there are a lot of stalled comebacks in the Johan Santana story. Time will tell if this is another one.
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Coming off three consecutive injury-plagued seasons in which he missed a total of 225 games, New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira made some drastic changes to his diet and his overall preparation in hopes to stay healthy moving forward.
According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, Teixeira is now on a "gluten free, sugar free and dairy free" diet, which he hopes will keep him injury free. So far, Teixeria says the results of his self-described "no fun" diet are encouraging and will hopefully lead to a more fun season.
During the offseason, Teixeira says he lost 13 pounds of fat and added 15 pounds of muscle, which he believes will give him added strength, durability, and above all, confidence.
“Last year was really, really difficult, physically and mentally,’’ said Teixeira. “I felt like garbage all season. When you are feeling like that and trying to perform, you get beaten down and you wonder, ‘Am I ever going to be the same?’ This offseason I asked my body to do a lot of things, and it responded. That’s the exciting thing, everything I wanted to accomplish I did, and I feel great going into the season.’’
Teixeira decided to apply the diet after consulting with trainer Ben Prentiss, who's closely associated with several NHL players. As for what the diet consists of. According to Teixeira, bread is a no-no, but he will be consuming a lot of buffalo meat between now and the end of his career.
"I have to go all-in," Teixeira said.
Yeah, he's definitely made the commitment. Now it will be interesting to see how much impact it has actually on his health and performance. It should be noted that despite battling a nagging right wrist injury last season, Teixeira still hit .216 with 22 home runs and 62 RBIs in 123 games. Sure, that's a lousy average, but it's easy to see that a healthy Teixeira can still provide a boost in the power department, and would likely be much improved all around.
Speaking along those lines, Teixeira also weighed in on another tppic that's garnered some attention in recent months thanks to new commissioner Rob Manfred. That would be defensive shifts, which Teixeira says have contributed to his drop in production. However, unlike Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who says he'll be more willing to bunt to beat shifts this season, Teixeira simply wants to hit the ball over the defense for extra bases and also draw more walks.
"We have talked about it ad nauseam," Teixeira said. "Every time I try to talk about it and slap the ball the other way, it just doesn't go well for anybody. That's exactly what the other team wants, to take a middle-of-the-order power hitter and turn him into a slap hitter."
Hey, he's already changed his body. One can't expect him to alter his approach along with it.
Really though, all the Yankees care about going into the 2015 season is keeping Mark Teixeira healthy and on the field. And if that does indeed happen, perhaps we should expect the menu to change in their clubhouse.
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What do you do in camp the day after someone calls the cops on you? The Orioles are going to find out on Saturday.
Buck Showalter arranged for a crowd noise drill in Orioles spring training on Friday, and it turned out to be so loud that a neighbor called the police. Pitchers were named for an intrasquad game Sunday afternoon, and everyone is healthy for now.
Everth Cabera has, to say it mildly, a checkered past. Did the Orioles find another February gem? Or did they find a scrap heap player that was better left on the heap?
In Orioles camp Thursday, Chris Davis bunted against the shift, Buck Showalter put the Nick Markakis story to bed, Hunter Harvey took the mound, and it turns out that Ubaldo Jimenez will start the first Grapefruit League game.
The Orioles added a new player to the roster, which provides an opportunity for the various talking people to talk about it.
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