06/29/09 8:29 PM ET
Santana may return this weekend vs. O's
With no setbacks, right-hander would be ready for start
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Manager Mike Scioscia made that disclosure before Monday night's series opener against the Rangers.
Santana delivered 45 pitches in a Minor League rehab start on Sunday night in Arizona against rookie competition, passing all the performance and stamina tests placed in front of him.
"I feel good," Santana said, hopping a flight from Phoenix to Dallas on Monday morning. "I think I'm ready to get out there. Everything was good."
Santana joked that he felt so good, he volunteered to fly the plane to Texas.
"He's excited," Scioscia said. "He threw all of his pitches, no pain. He maintained his velocity, which was consistent. The way the ball came out of his hand, with location, he had plenty of fastball. And he felt good about his slider.
"It was positive. We'll see how he comes out of the next few days and fold him into the rotation. It could be as early as Friday, could be [later in] the weekend. We'll see how his bullpen [session] goes and make a determination where he is."
After missing the opening five weeks as he recovered from a sprained right elbow ligament, Santana made six starts, going 1-3 with a 7.47 ERA. After a June 11 outing in St. Petersburg against the Rays, Santana experienced forearm stiffness and was placed on the disabled list.
He complained that night about the erratic nature of his fastball, which was in the 88-90 mph range -- far from the 94-97 he routinely produced on guns last season when he made the American League All-Star team for the first time. He was 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA, finishing second in the league in strikeouts and fourth in innings pitched.
In his tuneup on Sunday night, Santana hit 91 mph consistently.
"With his arm speed," Scioscia said, "if he's pitching at 91 and hitting 93 [occasionally], with his power slider, it's like he was in Detroit. It's there."
Santana came within one out of a complete game on June 5, beating the Tigers, 2-1, in his most impressive outing of the season.
"It's important to us," Scioscia said of Santana's return. "Not only do we need him back, we need him effective. Your rotation is vital to any team. Not having a big piece like that out there has been tough."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.