Those owners that selected Johan Santana in early drafts are breathing a little bit better this morning.
The Mets' ace threw 31 pitches on Sunday to test his left elbow, which had developed some tightness after his previous throwing session, and things went well enough that a trip back to New York for an MRI or other further tests was canceled, according to the team Web site. Although the winter storm warning for New York was a small factor in the fantasy ace not traveling, it was largely because Santana said his elbow felt fine after throwing only fastballs and changeups.
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He is scheduled to throw another bullpen and at least two batting-practice outings before appearing in an actual game. Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said that would put Santana on track to making his spring debut on March 13. If it's later than that, Santana might not be ready to begin the season. While we'll continue to monitor the situation, it appears Santana has dodged the proverbial bullet for now.
• Not only is he trying to recover from a second surgery on his right hip, but A's starter Justin Duchscherer is also dealing with a sore elbow. According to the Contra Costa Times, the best-case scenario has Duchscherer making his spring debut on March 12. There were already concerns that the Duke may not pitch more than 150 innings this season given the hip woes that have cut his seasons short the last two years, and now there is an additional issue to throw into the mix. Yes, the numbers were stellar when Duchscherer took the mound last year, but how well he's going to hold up remains a serious question mark.
• Brandon Webb threw a bullpen session without any issues on Sunday, and it appears he is past the forearm tightness that gave him problems last week. There should be no concerns with him going forward.
• Speaking of forearm tightness, Brad Lidge has yet to appear in a spring game due to that issue, according to the News Journal, but as of now it doesn't appear that this will affect his readiness for Opening Day.
• Josh Hamilton left Sunday's spring game due to a strained Achilles tendon suffered while he was running the bases, but said after the game he'd be back in the lineup if it were a regular-season game, so it doesn't appear to be too serious.
• According to the team Web site, A's third baseman Eric Chavez, recovering from yet another shoulder surgery, didn't experience any setbacks in a set of throwing drills on Sunday, and could make his Cactus League debut in the field later this week. It's possible Chavez could be a mild sleeper in AL-only play, but not much more given his injury history.
• He wouldn't be ready to pitch until midseason due to offseason shoulder surgery, but Curt Schilling hinted this weekend that he may not be done with baseball just yet, and that he would be interested in returning with only the Cubs or the Rays. Stay tuned.
• The Orioles' team Web Site reported that George Sherrill will remain the O's closer, and that Chris Ray will serve in the primary setup role, at least at the season's outset. However, if Ray shows that he's back to his old from, and Sherill continues to struggle with right-handed hitters, those roles could flip-flop at some point. The smart move would be to make sure to handcuff Sherrill if he's one of your primary save options.
• The Orioles also scratched starter Rich Hill on Sunday due to stiffness in his elbow. Hill, a potential sleeper this season, is expected to win one of the open slots in the O's rotation. He told the team Web site, "there's no big concern," that it was just precautionary.
• Eric Byrnes' battle for playing time in a crowded Arizona outfield has not been made easier by the fact that he is still not able to run the bases at full speed following injuries to both hamstrings last year, and it may hold him out of games for the next couple of weeks. Byrnes is going to be relegated to a platoon role against left-handed pitching unless he earns more at-bats.
• The Royals' Billy Butler left Sunday's game after being hit on the hand with a pitch. He'll be re-evaluated today, but told the team Web site that "it's painful" at the moment.
• Don't forget about Chris Carpenter in drafts this year. The Cardinals' starter pitched two hitless innings in his spring debut, and appears on track to be part of the Opening Day rotation.
• Rich Harden threw live batting practice on Saturday for the first time this spring, and is on track to pitch in a game in about a week. You know what to expect from Harden, and the over/under is at about 125 innings, so it's all depending on how lucky you're feeling.