Originally written November 12, 2012 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. Newly acquired right-hander Ervin Santana apparently has satisfied everyone, Royals physicians included, that he is 100 percent healthy. Santana, acquired two weeks ago from the Angels, was in Kansas City on Monday to take a physical exam. Both Santana and Royals general manager Dayton Moore said he passed with no issues. "All is good," Santana said from Kauffman Stadium. "Ready to go." Since the trade, there had been some unconfirmed reports that Santana might be enduring some lingering elbow issues, even though Moore indicated a few hours after the trade that Santana's elbow checked out fine. "We wouldn't have made the trade if he hadn't passed our examinations," Moore said. Royals fans, though, have been understandably wary after the team suffered four elbow injuries in 2012 to their pitchers that required Tommy John surgery Blake Wood, Joakim Soria, Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino all suffered season-ending injuries. But Moore said there was no need for concern. "(Santana's elbow) is normal for a pitcher," Moore said. "There's a certain amount of wear and tear all pitchers go through. His (MRI) is no different than anyone else we have on the staff." Santana said there were some times last season that the elbow acted up, but that it was routine. "I had a little soreness but nothing major," he said. In 2009, Santana experienced some tightness in his elbow during spring training. Eventually he was diagnosed with a sprained ligament and started that season on the disabled list. "Not good then," he said. "Going on the DL. Not fun at all." The injury, though, did not require surgery and healed on its own. "Through exercise and massage, it got better," he said. Santana came back that season and made 24 starts, though he wasn't quite the same. He went 8-8 with a 5.03 ERA. The next season, however, Santana bounced back to post a 17-10 record with a 3.92 ERA. Since then his fastball, which once reached the 95-97 mph range, now generally peaks around 92-93. He's aware of the dip in velocity but says it doesn't diminish his pitching skills. "I don't worry about it," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "I know if I keep working hard it will come back." The Royals certainly hope Santana can continue to be the workhorse he has been in the past. He has exceeded 200 innings in four of his eight big-league seasons. "I can do that again," he said. What will make his job easier, he said, is having a lot of support from the Royals. "I'm excited. It's a young team with a lot of talent," he said. "We got great defense and they score a lot of runs. "Every time you have players like that (on defense), it makes you more comfortable because you know when they hit it, it's going to be caught. We have a lot of speed. That's good for a pitcher." Santana knows he has a Gold Glove winner in left field in Alex Gordon, and potential Gold Glovers around the infield with third baseman Mike Moustakas, shortstop Alcides Escobar and first baseman Eric Hosmer. Santana also gets to work with a rising star in catcher Salvador Perez. "He's very talented," Santana said, smiling. "He knows what he's doing behind the plate. He can read the mind (of the hitter) and he's good at getting on the same page as the pitcher." It's likely Santana will immediately assume the role as the Royals' ace, though he is careful to make such assumptions. "I just came here to do my job," he said. And at 29, he may be in a position in which the Royals' younger pitchers will look up to him for advice. "If they ask for advice I will tell them," he said. "But I don't control nobody. I just try to be a good teammate." More than anything, Santana doesn't want to ruffle any feathers here. "It's like I'm a rookie now," he said. "I have a new team. I have to just enjoy it now."
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