In a cruel twist of fate, Santana tore his left Achilles tendon today during his final extended spring training start in Sarasota. An MRI confirmed the extent of the injury, which also could end the career of the two-time Cy Young winner.
Santana was hit on the left gluteus by a line drive, and his Achilles tore as he stumbled while chasing the ball.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette passed along the update while meeting with reporters in the back of the press box at Camden Yards.
“His season will be done and unfortunately the rehab, we didn’t get a chance to see it through to completion,” Duquette said. “An unfortunate injury and incident for the team and for Johan, and we wish Johan the best, but there will be some challenges in this recovery.
“We had an MRI this afternoon down in Sarasota that was read by Dr. (Brian) Schofield and Dr. (Michael) Jacobs. They confirmed the tendon was severed and that in effect would end his season.”
Before it really got started.
Santana has been pitching at extended spring training while recovering from his second shoulder surgery. He was scheduled to go five innings or throw 75 pitches today.
The Orioles purchased Santana’s contract on June 2 as he approached the midnight deadline for opting out of it and placed him on the 15-day disabled list. Santana would have reported to Double-A Bowie after today’s game.
Asked whether the Orioles retain interest in Santana beyond this year, Duquette replied, “I know the rehab is significant for these tendon injuries and we’ll have to get with him and speak to him, but he won’t be able to pitch for the Orioles this season.”
Santana, 35, signed a minor league contract on March 4. The four-time All-Star is 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA in 360 career games and 284 starts with the Twins and Mets since making his debut in 2000.
Santana is the second-winningest Venezuelan-born pitcher in baseball history behind Freddy Garcia (156) and 12 strikeouts shy of 2,000 for his career.
Before placing Santana on the disabled list, the Orioles projected that he could make his first start for them by June 18.
“He was pitching well,” Duquette said. “The last time out he had velocity and was able to back-door his slider. I think he had eight strikeouts and no walks and he was right on schedule to where after today he was going to come up and join the major league team and we were going to continue his rehab in Bowie. The skills are there and he has been able to rehab his arm, but now he is going to have another challenge in terms of the rehab of the new injury.
“It’s unfortunate. We were looking for Johan’s leadership and also his pedigree from being a winning pitcher to come back and be added to the team. Now, we’ll have to look for that capability somewhere else. I was looking at it like a midseason acquisition or trade and we invested in the rehab and we invested in the salary. Of course, we wouldn’t have to trade a player. Unfortunately it didn’t work.
“Sometimes, you can plan and do things right and things don’t work out. Unfortunately it’s an injury, the timing is not good. We’ll have to look at other options in terms of pitching.”
As for tonight’s game, Wei-Yin Chen has served up solo home runs to Oakland’s Josh Donaldson in the first inning and Derek Norris in the second.