Posted: 3:41 pm Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Ervin Santana makes Braves debut Thursday 

By David O'Brien

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Eight days after signing Ervin Santana, the Braves will start him against the Mets on Thursday in his spring debut, and Braves fans can  watch the 1:05 p.m. game live on MLB Network.

The Braves signed the the former All-Star to a one-year, $14.1 million free-agent contract after elbow injuries last week to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. Medlen had season-ending Tommy John surgery Tuesday, and Beachy was to decide whether to have surgery after getting another opinion this week from a specialist in Los Angeles.

If Medlen had gotten hurt a couple of days later, they probably would’ve been too late to sign Santana, who was considering offers from the Blue Jays and Orioles before the Braves joined the bidding and lured him to the National League for the first time in his career.

Santana, 31, was 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 211 innings last season for the Kansas City Royals, and tied for fourth in the American League with 23 quality starts (six innings or more and three earned runs or fewer allowed). He declined their $14.1 million qualifying offer, didn’t get the lucrative multi-year offers he expected, and was the best pitcher still without a team when spring training began.

Since Santana hadn’t faced hitters this spring, the Braves wanted him to throw in the bullpen and then throw batting practice a couple of times before penciling him in for his first Grapefruit League game. He’s scheduled to pitch two innings, like other Braves starters typically do in their spring debuts.

The plan is to have him ready to keep pitching in Grapefruit League and minor league games to build arm strength before he joins the Braves rotation on or before Feb. 12, the first time they’ll need a fifth starter. The Braves want to make sure not to rush Santana.

“I don’t think it’s worth it to take a chance, to cut some days or some starts (in his build-up process),” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Because of off days in the early schedule, the Braves can get by with four starters for the first 10 games without having any go on short rest. They’ll go with Julio Teheran, second-year left-hander Alex Wood, 37-year-old Freddy Garcia and rookie David Hale to begin the season, with Santana, incumbent lefty Mike Minor and veteran Gavin Floyd all waiting in the wings.

Minor fell behind the other starters when he couldn’t work out or throw in January following Dec. 31 urinary-tract surgery, then developed soreness in his throwing shoulder when he ramped up his activities in the first week of camp. Floyd is in the final stages of his rehab from May 2013 Tommy John surgery.

Minor and Floyd will each continue to throw batting-practice sessions for another week before Gonzalez said both would likely pitch in minor league games in Florida at the end of the month, when the Braves head north to face their prospects in a March 29 game at Rome and open the season March 31 at Milwaukee.

Minor is tentatively scheduled to join the Braves’ rotation at some point in late April and Floyd in early May.

Gonzalez was asked Wednesday if he’d be comfortable starting the season with the starting foursome of Teheran, Wood, Garcia and Hale.

“Yeah, I’m comfortable with it,” he said. “And it gives you a nice comfort (knowing) it’s going to get better. Michael’s coming right along. You’ve got Gavin right behind him. So all of a sudden, a month into it you’ve got yourself a nice little rotation.”

If the Braves have a plan as to which two starters they would replace, they aren’t giving any hints at this point.

4 comments
dawgfacedboy
dawgfacedboy

The season is over. You can't win with only 6 hitters and no ace. Santana is not going to save the season. Yes, he was he best FA available, so was Derek Lowe. That's like saying i'm the sknniest kid at fat camp.

Garcia is a bum. Floyd is a bum. Beachy is done. Wood is young and has potential but is he ready? Not to mention his mechanics are terrible and it's probably a matter of time before he blows his arm out as well. Hale, same as Wood. Has potential but are they ready?

Venters after 2 TJs??? Please.

The good news is that Wood and Hale will get valuable innings for next year and that this young core group is signed for a while.

Teddy_B
Teddy_B

Geez Louise, I just get an uncomfortable feeling reading about Mike Minor and "soreness in his throwing shoulder" after all the injuries to pitchers this spring. Meds and Beachy were HUGE losses, and grabbing Santana may have helped for now but in reality we are one pitching injury away from a disastrous season. Who in the heck hired the strength and conditioning guys?! Or did someone else cause all these injuries by having the pitchers pitch too often? Ever since Fredi G kept grinding O'Venterbrel the past couple years they have all been breaking down except for Kimbrel. Hate to say it but he just might be next, Fredi G sure does use him a lot but then again he doesn't use him very wisely either because if he would have brought in Kimbrel in the last Playoff game vs. the Dodgers in the 8th inning I think we would have won that game and kept alive in the series.


Someone needs to be closely evaluated after all these arm injuries. Other teams usually have one or two pitching injuries all spring and we've lost two of our main rotation guys within what a day or two. I am concerned. Good thing we have a heck of a young talented offensive core that consists of Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Freddie Freeman, Evan Gattis (when he's healthy), Justin Upton (when he's locked in), and Chris Johnson. The other two guys are just a bonus, they are among the highest paid on the team but they can't be relied on for much production at this point which is very very sad. Uggs and B.J. Slumpton need to snap out of it and play like their paycheck depends on it because once their current contracts are up I don't think either one will get any offers over 1 mil to play ANYWHERE. I haven't seen a collapse so epic in all my years walking the earth, and to see it twice on the same team within a couple years is just awful. 


LETS GO BRAVES! TEAR IT UP IN APRIL!

kevkat
kevkat

You want to also tell us about possible asteriods headed our way or the bird flu or solar flares, gamma rays..etc.