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Is Johan Ready?

Opening Day is less than a week hence and Johan Santana just tossed his final start of the spring, a three-inning, 36-pitch tune-up in which he allowed two solo homeruns and nothing else. Santana finished the exhibition schedule with a 3.57 ERA in 17.2 innings, striking out 17 and walking just two.

It's so difficult to glean anything meaningful from these starts, but the fact that Santana has had good command of his pitches despite getting a late start on things is a very encouraging sign. The two dingers he coughed up yesterday give him four this month but, again, I don't know if that really matters. We know that the pre-season is specifically for pitchers to work on their feel, build up arm strength, etc., so it's probably not a big deal that Santana has given up a few too many homeruns this spring. He did have some trouble with the longball early in 2008, though:

First 11 starts: 12 homeruns
Final 23 starts: 11 homeruns

Should we be concerned that he only went three innings today? Probably not. Some other big-name (at least relative to their respective rotations) guys didn't pitch very long today, either:

Josh Beckett: 3.2 IP
Roy Oswalt: 4.0 IP
James Shields: 4.0 IP
C.C. Sabathia: 3.2 IP
Carlos Zambrano: 3.1 IP
Aaron Cook: 3.0 IP
Gil Meche: 4.0 IP
Hiroki Kuroda: 3.0 IP

None of these cats went longer than four innings, which should be some indication that it's not uncommon for starters to only toss a few frames in their last go-round before Opening Day. Things appeared pretty bleak a month ago, but Santana's looking pretty swanky right now.