Oft-injured pitcher set to return for Opening Day

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Oft-injured pitcher set to return for Opening Day

From Comcast SportsNet
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- After a spring full of injury-related news, finally some relief for the New York Mets: Johan Santana will start on opening day. The left-hander, returning from shoulder surgery performed in September 2010, met with manager Terry Collins in his office Sunday. Later, Collins announced that Santana was set to pitch at home against the Atlanta Braves. "After we talked to Johan yesterday after he threw, I walked by him and he said to me at the end, You've got your pitcher for Thursday,'" Collins said. Santana made his last spring training start Monday against St. Louis and worked a brief bullpen session Saturday. "It means a lot," he said. "It means that everything we've done from surgery to today has paid off. We worked hard, and I'm very happy." "I'm happy to have the opportunity to start the season from Day One with the team. That's something I was really looking forward to," the two-time Cy Young winner said. Santana was 0-1 with a 3.44 ERA in five exhibition starts. "He said to me in the winter, I came to New York to be the opening day starter. If I can do it, I'll be there.' He's ready to go," Collins said. The 33-year-old Santana has been rehabbing the anterior capsule in his shoulder since the surgery that cut short his 2010 season. He pitched briefly in the minors last year. Collins will have a built-in luxury that will help with easing Santana into the mix. Six of his first seven scheduled starts will include an extra day of rest simply because of the way New York's schedule unfolds. Left fielder Jason Bay was eager to see Santana return, especially after the Mets lost shortstop Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins in free agency. "(Johan) brings a lot of the same type of energy that Jose had brought. We obviously lost Jose and not having Johan around all year last year, so getting him back is getting the energy back," Bay said. "It's almost like picking up another guy because you've missed him for the whole year. It's nice to have that back," Bay said. Right-hander Dillon Gee said the club will immediately feel the impact of Santana's return. "It's important to see him back," Gee said. "Everyone wanted to see Johan on opening day. The prestige of Johan on opening day is a benchmark." Collins said R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Gee would round out the rotation in that order behind Santana.

Waived by Dallas, Deron Williams intends to sign with Cavs

Waived by Dallas, Deron Williams intends to sign with Cavs

CLEVELAND -- Free-agent guard Deron Williams has cleared waivers and told the Cleveland Cavaliers he intends to sign with them.

Williams, a five-time All-Star, was waived this week by Dallas. He will give the defending NBA champions a playmaker they've needed all season and one LeBron James demanded.

Williams cannot sign with the Cavs until Monday. Cleveland hosts the Milwaukee Bucks that night. The Cavs will be the fourth team for Williams, who is averaging 13.1 points this season.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue can bring him off the bench and also play him with Cleveland's starters to give James and Kyrie Irving rest before the playoffs.

Cavaliers general manager David Griffin didn't make a move at Thursday's trade deadline, but said the team still needed a playmaker. Williams can also back up Kyrie Irving at point guard, a spot the Cavaliers have been trying to fill since the start of the season.

Griffin's previous acquisitions are a big reason the Cavaliers are 8-1 in February. Kyle Korver is shooting 52 percent from 3-point range since being acquired from Atlanta and has made up for the loss of J.R. Smith, who is out until April with a broken right thumb.

Derrick Williams, who is on a second 10-day contract, is averaging 9.8 points in five games with the Cavaliers.

Cleveland has been also looking to add frontcourt depth since Kevin Love had surgery on his right knee earlier this month. Love, who is averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds, said Friday that he plans on being ready for the playoffs.

Free-agent Larry Sanders worked out for the Cavaliers last week and Andrew Bogut is another possibility to join Cleveland. Bogut is expected to have his contract bought out by the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired him from the Mavericks at the deadline.

 

A's Gray won't pitch in WBC due to insurance company issue

A's Gray won't pitch in WBC due to insurance company issue

MESA, Ariz. — Sonny Gray won’t be an option for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, after the tournament’s insurance carrier declined to cover the A’s right-hander for the tournament.

Gray feels great physically now, stressed Oakland general manager David Forst, but last season Gray spent more than 60 days on the disabled list for trapezius and forearm issues, and he also finished August on the D.L. Both of those criteria landed him on the “chronic condition player” list that keeps players out of the WBC.

Astros catcher Russell Martin was denied eligibility for the WBC based on similar criteria.

As it was, Gray was only scheduled to join Team USA for the second round if the Americans made it that far.

“I know Sonny’s bummed, he wanted to pitch,” Forst said. “Again, we were excited to let him do that.”

‘It’s an unfortunate thing, but at the same time it allows me to slow down here and get myself as ready as I can for the beginning of the season,” Gray said. “I know it didn't work out but to have that opportunity to be asked to play is humbling and something that maybe in future can work out.”

MLB pushed for an exception to let Gray pitch, according to Forst, but it wasn’t granted by the insurance company.

“Nobody can play in the tournament if you’re not covered by the insurance carrier,” Forst said.

With Gray now out of the WBC for certain, the A’s pushed his first exhibition start back from Monday to Wednesday since there’s less urgency to have him ready for possible WBC duty. That had a ripple effect on Oakland’s rotation.

Minor league right-hander Daniel Gossett will now start Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. Kendall Graveman, originally set to pitch Sunday, goes Monday against the Giants, with Sean Manaea also taking the mound in that game as was planned. Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs remain in line to both pitch Tuesday.

It’s an unusual turn of events, but the upshot is that three of the five players from the A’s 40-man roster scheduled to participate in the WBC ultimately will not. Left fielder Khris Davis (Mexico) and reliever Liam Hendriks (Australia) voluntarily withdrew. Reliever John Axford is pitching for Canada and fellow reliever Santiago Casilla is still scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, though the longer Casilla remains out of camp while his visa process plays out in his home country, the more it would seem to possibly put his WBC status in jeopardy.

“At some point it may become an issue, but it’s not yet,” Forst said.