Santana nursing shoulder injury

After being forced to sit out the entire 2006 season with a shoulder injury, catcher Cristian Santana finally got on the field this past summer. The 18-year-old batted .306 with nine doubles and four home runs in 121 at-bats between the Rookie and short-season Class-A levels. Lone Star Dugout recently caught up with the prospect for a question-and-answer session.

Catcher Cristian Santana was one of the first position players to sign with the Rangers after they revitalized their Latin American efforts a few years ago. The native of the Dominican Republic initially signed in 2005, but he was unable to make his professional debut until this past summer.

Santana was forced to miss the entire 2006 season after undergoing labrum surgery on his right shoulder. The ailment seemed to affect the backstop throughout his debut season, as he gunned down just 7-of-50 potential base stealers.

Regarded as an advanced hitter, the shoulder issues did not seem to impinge on his abilities at the plate. Santana batted .302 with seven doubles, three triples, and three home runs in 96 at-bats with the Rookie level AZL Rangers. The 18-year-old, who lost some time to a rotator cuff injury, earned a late-season promotion to short-season Spokane, where he went 8-for-25 at the plate with two doubles and a home run.

Santana recently capped a successful professional debut with a stint at fall instructional league in Surprise, Ariz. The catcher was limited because of yet another shoulder issue, but he feels he was able to make progress on the field. Lone Star Dugout was able to catch up with Santana shortly after instructs came to a close.

Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on how you played at instructs?

Cristian Santana: I came here with a bunch of new faces I hadn't seen before. I felt I performed well at the beginning, but my shoulder started bothering me, so I just started DHing a little bit. I'm upset that my shoulder kept me from catching in the second half, but I'm proud that I was able to pull through. I feel that I did a good job for what I had to do.

Cole: You lost your entire 2006 season after you had shoulder surgery. Did that have any effect on your shoulder this summer when you were playing with the AZL Rangers?

Santana: During the summer, it was nagging me. It was a little bit sore. But I had to play through it because everyday players get injuries and you have to play through them. You have to be tough.

Cole: Coming off that shoulder surgery, did you feel it affected your throwing arm at all?

Santana: Before surgery, my arm was real strong. After the surgery, I lost a little bit of strength in my arm. I couldn't really throw 100 percent, but I could throw it enough to get people out.

Cole: You also missed some time during the AZL season this past summer. What exactly was your injury?

Santana: I had a problem with my rotator cuff. I had to rest it.

Cole: Are you over that by now?

Santana: That injury is gone. It's just that now I have swelling around my labrum. I have to get that fixed and checked out.

Santana was impressive at the plate.
Cole: Do you know how long it will be until you are recovered?

Santana: I should be fully recovered in two-to-three weeks. I'll be able to start short tossing and throwing the ball a little bit.

Cole: What are you currently doing to improve defensively?

Santana: I'm working on my mechanics for throwing so I can stay away from injury.

Cole: How about offensively?

Santana: I'm working on using my legs more when I'm hitting. I've started using more of my upper body, trying to compensate bat speed, but I'm working on it.

Cole: What do you feel you need to do to improve for next season?

Santana: I'm going to work on getting in the best shape that I can. I want to get in top, top shape in the Dominican Republic. I've been working at the development center. Once I get into top shape, I'll start getting back into baseball and get ready for spring training.

Cole: Will you be going to Dominican instructs?

Santana: Yes.

Cole: When do you report out there?

Santana: The first of November.

Cole: Have the Rangers given you any idea as to what their plans are for you next year?

Santana: The Rangers are confident that I can play at the higher levels, but they're just worried about my arm right now. They're going to hope that my arm is back at 100 percent for spring training so they can put me up at the high levels they want me to be in. If not, they'll just work with me, see how strong it gets, and see where it goes.

Thanks to Michael Ortiz for helping translate the interview.

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