There was some speculation that Santana might skip the start when rain pushed the first pitch back nearly two hours, but the two-time Cy Young winner stood firm in his decision to take the mound.
Santana took the hill for the Navegantes del Magallanes and played an early part in the club’s 10-2 victory over the Tigers of Aragua.
Santana pitched two innings and faced the minimum six batters in those two frames. He issued no walks or strikeouts.
In the first he got Padres infielder Yangervis Solarteand Twins infielder Eduardo Escobar to ground out. Yankees minor league outfielder Ramon Flores flied out to center to end the top of the first.
In the top of the second, he got Minnesota catcher Josmil Pinto to and White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia to fly out before inducing a ground ball out from Twins minor leaguer Jose Martinez to end his night on the mound.
That was it for the veteran lefty, giving way to the bullpen after just 17 pitches.
It’s being reported that while the results were there, the pitcher is still struggling to regain his previous form.
His fastball has yet to hit 90mph on the radar gun, but is reportedly sitting comfortably in the upper-80s and his once-devastating changeup is said to be status quo.
If Santana does make it back to the big leagues, he’ll be a very different pitcher; relying more on guile than his ability to overpower hitters.
While Tuesday’s start was obviously a small sample size; given his track record – and the reportedly large contingent of interested teams – it might have been enough to earn Santana a minor league deal and spring training invite.
Santana is trying to comeback from two shoulder capsule surgeries – something no one has ever done – and a torn Achilles tendon that ended his comeback a year ago.
Needless to say, at 35-years-old, it is a tough hill to climb from here, but I’d never bet against Santana.
We will continue to follow Santana’s comeback story as it develops.