Notes: Santander to be full-go for workouts

Breakout slugger faces no limits recovering from shoulder injury

February 14th, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The early-arriving position players keep trickling into Orioles camp, more and more by the day. Renato Núñez, Mason Williams and Ryan McKenna walked through the clubhouse doors Friday, adding to a group that already included Trey Mancini, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and others.

Few arrived earlier than , who has been in Florida for upwards of three weeks. The reason? Santander touched down in Sarasota in late January hoping to move past the right labrum inflammation that truncated his breakout 2019 season. After an offseason spent recovering from the injury, Santander resumed full baseball activity about two weeks ago.

Santander is not expected to be limited when full-squad workouts begin Monday.

“I’ve been working on my strength for my shoulder,” Santander said. “To be ready not only for Spring Training but also to be healthy for the season.”

In that sense, these past few weeks have functioned largely as a continuation of Santander’s offseason, which he mostly spent recovering in his native Venezuela. He first complained of shoulder discomfort in late September, following a late-season slump where he hit .155 in his final 19 games. The Orioles did not disclose the injury at the time, but held Santander out of their last five games.

Testing did not reveal any structural damage and Santander was prescribed rest. He said he took 2 1/2 months off before resuming his offseason training, focusing on speed and agility in those workouts. The daily shoulder treatment he receives from the O's staff in Sarasota includes laser, heat and massage therapy.

Asked about the root of the injury, Santander said simply: “Too many throws.”

“I want to continue to build my Spring Training, work on my strength and keep my speed to be ready for the season,” Santander said. “I want to take advantage of the opportunity the manager is going to give me to play every day. My goal is to be healthy all season, and to help my team win every night.”

Outside of that, Santander called improving plate discipline a goal for 2020, which he enters on considerably different standing than he did last. The switch-hitter has rocketed past DJ Stewart, Dwight Smith and others on the organizational depth chart in the last calendar year, thanks to a sizzling showing at the big-league level last summer. Promoted in June, Santander hit .291/.328/.520 with 16 home runs in 74 games before his September slide, finishing the year as Baltimore’s regular left fielder and No. 3 hitter.

Santander figures to reprise both roles if he breaks camp fully healthy.

“Last year was part of the past, but this year I have to continue working hard, play hard every day,” Santander said. “Even though I am going to have the opportunity to play every day, I still have to show them I will play hard every day even if I’ve got that spot.”

Welcome back, old friends
The Orioles announced Friday they plan to welcome J.J. Hardy and Jeff Conine to camp as new guest instructors this spring, as well as returnees Mike Bordick, Ben McDonald, Scott McGregor and Brian Roberts in the same role.

Conine, who spent nearly six of his 17 seasons with the Orioles, last appeared in uniform as an instructor for the Marlins in 2017. He played for the Marlins from 1993-97 and 2003-05, when current O's manager Brandon Hyde was a Minor League coach in the organization. When Hyde graduated to the big league staff in June 2010, Conine was working post-retirement as a team broadcaster. Conine is scheduled to arrive in camp on Monday.

Hardy won three consecutive Gold Gloves as Baltimore’s shortstop from 2012-14, spending his final seven MLB seasons with the organization. He’ll arrive in Sarasota on March 2.

McGregor and Bordick are already in camp, while Roberts (Monday) and McDonald (Feb. 23) are set to touch down in short order.

Going around
Held out of workouts thus far due to flu-like symptoms, catcher Pedro Severino isn’t the only Oriole under the weather anymore. The club also sent reliever Mychal Givens and Hunter Harvey home early Friday after both arrived showing signs of illness. The Orioles are hopeful that stops the bug from spreading further across the clubhouse.

“We are hand-sanitizing,” Hyde said. “We have hand sanitizer everywhere and we are talking about good hygiene. It’s one of those things that happens in camp, where one guy gets sick and it can spread. We’re trying to stop it there.”