ARLINGTON, Texas - The Orioles have purchased the contract of veteran left-hander Johan Santana from Triple-A Norfolk and placed him on the 15-day disabled list while he recovers from left shoulder surgery.
Santana had a provision in his contract that he could request his unconditional release if not added to the major league roster by May 30.
The Orioles already had an opening on their 40-man roster, which Santana will fill, after they outrighted reliever Evan Meek.
“His rehab took a little bit longer than we had hoped,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette. “We had hoped that he’d be ready by June 1, but he’s pretty close. Our guys recommended that he probably needs a couple more starts to be ready to help our team. And on the basis of the progress he’s made on his rehab, we wanted to see the process through, so we purchased his contract for the major league club and he’ll continue his rehab.”
Santana didn’t make his scheduled start today at extended spring training. Instead, he’s expected to do so on Wednesday.
“Then we’ll see where we’re at,” Duquette said. “We’ll see if he wants to go out and pitch at a higher level. We can certainly accommodate that. But he’s got another start down in extended and that should happen this week.”
The Orioles had wanted Santana to pitch for Triple-A Norfolk on June 8 and at Double-A Bowie on June 13, but his schedule may be adjusted.
“The good news is he’s got his pitches back,” Duquette said. “His slider, changeup. His fastball velocity is coming along. And he’s got control of his pitches. He’s throwing strikes and feeling good. He’s made steady progress on his rehab.
“I think in a couple more weeks, he could be in position to help the major league team.”
Santana, 35, signed a minor league contract on March 4. A two-time Cy Young Award winner (2004 and 2006), four-time All-Star (2005-07 and 2009) and Gold Glove winner (2007), Santana 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, who will wear No. 57, is the second-winningest Venezuelan-born pitcher in baseball history behind Freddy Garcia (156) and 12 strikeouts shy of 2,000 for his career.