Left-hander Johan Santana, whose career appeared to be in serious jeopardy after he tore his left Achilles tendon in June, is making a comeback in the Venezuelan Winter League and expects to return to the major leagues in 2015, his agent said Friday.
Santana, 35, has a 139-78 career record with two Cy Young Awards and four All-Star appearances over 12 seasons with the Minnesota Twins and New York Mets. He was one of the most dominant starters in baseball during an eight-year stretch from 2003 to '10, and the Mets rewarded him with a six-year, $137.5 million contract in February 2008.
Shoulder injuries have limited Santana to 21 big league appearances since 2010. He was on the verge of joining the Baltimore Orioles' roster last summer when he tore his Achilles during an extended spring training start, casting a cloud over his future.
But Santana reportedly threw his fastball between 86 and 89 mph in a simulated game this week, and he is scheduled to make his Venezuelan winter ball debut Tuesday for Magallanes against the Tigres de Aragua. His agent, Peter Greenberg of the Legacy Agency, said Santana expects to sign with a team before spring training.
"Johan wants to go out on his own terms," Greenberg said. "He doesn't want to go out because an injury put him out. He's worked very hard and kept himself in shape, and he's never thought about retiring.
"It's not about the money or anything like that. He's said he wants to draw his own ending. He wants to go out on his own terms. He's told me, 'I want to add to my legacy.' I think anybody who knows him is going to bet on him."
Although it's unclear which MLB teams have been scouting Santana, the Blue Jays, Phillies, Yankees and Twins reportedly were among the clubs that expressed interest in him before Baltimore signed him to a minor league contract last March.
Santana is expected to throw three innings or 40 pitches in his first start Tuesday, then gradually ramp up his workload as the winter league progresses. Greenberg said he plans to compare notes with interested MLB teams as the pitcher's comeback progresses.
"Johan is not in a rush," Greenberg said. "He's not anxious or anything. We're just going to let the teams that have expressed interest scout him, and we'll take it a step at a time."