RHP Ervin Santana feeling like rookie with Royals

Associated Press Modified: November 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm •  Published: November 12, 2012
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ervin Santana feels like a rookie again, getting a fresh start with the Kansas City Royals.

Good thing, too.

Just about all his new teammates aren't much older than rookies, anyway.

The 29-year-old right-hander took a physical with his new team, and toured Kauffman Stadium on a brisk Monday afternoon, after a trade earlier this month sent him from the Los Angeles Angels to the Royals for a minor league pitcher and some cash to help cover his contract.

"It's like I'm a rookie now," Santana said between meetings. "It's a new team."

Indeed, Santana has been a fixture in the Angels' rotation since 2005, going 96-80 with a 4.33 ERA while starting at least 28 games in eight consecutive seasons — precisely the kind of dependable starting pitching that the Royals have been lacking for close to three decades.

The Angels signed Santana as a free agent in 2000 and helped him develop into a solid starter of 96 games over the past three seasons. And even though he went 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA last season, he was good enough down the stretch to give him — and the Royals — high hopes for next season.

"I'm happy to be here," he said. "Everything's healthy. Everything is ready to go."

That was no sure thing when Santana arrived in Kansas City — there were rumors about potential elbow problems, and a decrease in velocity had caused some trepidation.

Everything has checked out, though, and the Royals believe they have a front-of-the-rotation starter to help solidify a starting corps that was abysmal last season.

"We were able to scout Ervin during the entire year, specifically the second half," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said shortly after the trade. "His August and September were really good. From a statistical standpoint, he was very good."