Orioles to let ex-ace go at his own pace

SARASOTA — Johan Santana is hoping the Orioles' patience with him pays off in another chance to pitch in the big leagues.

The left-hander was out of the majors last season while recuperating from surgery on his pitching shoulder. He signed a one-year, incentive-laden contract with the Orioles on Tuesday and worked out with them for the first time Wednesday.

Santana, 34, said he's not ready for the majors. Baltimore has set a June 1 target for his arrival.

Santana, once a dominant pitcher for the Twins and Mets, is eager to show he can still be effective. Last week in a showcase for the Orioles and other teams, Santana struggled to throw more than 80 mph.

"As long as I don't feel anything in my arm, I'll be able to go out there. I know what to do. And again, you've got to make adjustments. There's no question about it. That's what I'm going to do. But right now, I don't really know what my velocity will be," Santana said.

Santana was a two-time Cy Young winner with Minnesota. In 2012, he pitched the only no-hitter in Mets history.

Santana is 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA in 11 seasons. He's comfortable that no one will try to rush his comeback.

"One of the biggest things is they understand exactly where I am as far as my rehab and everything. And then they've got the confidence that they'll be able to help me to come back. We're on the same page and I'm very happy for that," Santana said.

TEXAS ADDS LEFTY: Veteran left-hander Joe Saunders, 32, will get a chance to earn a spot in the Rangers' starting rotation after finalizing a one-year contract that guarantees him the $500,000 minimum. Texas lefty Derek Holland is expected to be out at least half the season after knee surgery.

GATOR LOVE: Torii Hunter claims that he didn't actually kiss an alligator. The Tigers outfielder was featured in a viral photo that showed him puckering up next to the bounded mouth of a gator — but he told reporters that he was just "on the backside of it" and there was no kiss.

EX-PHENOM RETIRES: Rick Ankiel, a former pitching sensation with the Cardinals whose promising career was derailed by control problems, retired from baseball. Ankiel, 34, was the NL rookie of the year runnerup as a 20-year-old in 2000, but after a postseason meltdown he made only 11 more appearances in the majors as a pitcher. He converted to the outfield and played 536 games there from 2007-13.

ASTROS: Centerfielder Dexter Fowler was scratched because of a stiff neck.

CARDINALS: Centerfielder Peter Bourjos is day to day with tightness in his right leg.

ROYALS: Right-hander Luke Hochevar likely will miss at least the first two months of the season because of a sprained ligament in his pitching elbow.

Orioles to let ex-ace go at his own pace 03/05/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 9:43pm]

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