Santana Shines in Senior Season
By Christina De Nicola
(This story first appeared
in The Miami Hurricane)
Heading into the season, No. 11 Miami knew it would have to rely
on a young team of 11 true freshmen.
head coach Jim Morris didn’t know was that with less than a
month left in the regular season, senior right-hander Jason
Santana (right) would prove to be the biggest surprise.
don’t think there’s a day that passes by that they don’t give me
a hard time about being here and being so old,” said the
23-year-old, who first came to Miami in 2005. “It’s alright,
it’s all fun.”
Santana, a graduate of Coral Gables Senior High, is a testament
to how injuries can escalate and alter a pitcher’s career.
was a guy who always competed no matter what the situation, no
matter the team he faced,” said Laz Gutierrez, Santana’s high
school coach who is now a scout for the Boston Red Sox. “I do
follow him a lot just because he played for me three years at
Gables. He definitely has a special place in my heart forever.
I’ve seen him grow up. His success just goes to show you what
kind of career this kid could’ve had had he stayed healthy.”
criminology major sat out his freshman season after having Tommy
John surgery. Two years ago he had bursitis and labrum surgery
and midway through last season he had rotator cuff, labrum and
bicep tear surgery.
kept telling myself that everything would be alright and I
didn’t think I could just quit that easily,” Santana said. “I
wasn’t going to let anything like that stop me because I knew
that I could pitch at this level. I knew I’d come back.”
Pitching coach J.D. Arteaga and Morris stuck by Santana because
of that promise.
happy for him more than anything,” Morris said. “The bottom line
is he’s going deep in the season now for the first time, knock
Despite eight Canes being drafted in the 2008 Major League
Baseball Amateur Draft, Santana watched as the team, including
his high school teammate and the fifth overall pick, Yonder
Alonso, failed to win the College World Series.
would’ve been great to contribute to the team and maybe the
outcome could’ve been a little bit different,” he said.
Entering Wednesday’s game, the 6’2” 200-pounder was tied for
second in the Atlantic Coast Conference with six wins. He had
pitched 40.2 innings and held a 3.10 ERA in ten appearances for
the sixth-lowest earned-run average in the ACC. Coming into this
season, he was 8-1 with a 3.28 ERA.
last time I felt this healthy was in high school, not even,
because I was hurt,” Santana said. “It feels great not having to
worry about going out there and getting hurt and just being able
week, he beat Florida Atlantic for the third time in 21 days and
allowed just one run on five hits in a career-high seven
does that every midweek game,” said Preseason All-American
closer Kyle Bellamy, who picked up his ACC-leading 10th save in
the 3-1 victory. “He’s been battling injuries for five years now
and he’s a real good friend of mine and I’m just happy that he’s
doing so well.”
catcher Jason Hagerty attributes Santana’s success to his
throwing strikes, mixing his changeup and slider and getting
ahead of hitters.
each time he takes the mound, Santana’s family comes in large
numbers to cheer him on.
know my parents, they’re really happy to see me out there,
especially after all I’ve gone through,” he said. “I know it
affects them a lot more than people think.”
Hurricanes get closer to postseason play, Santana hopes to be
one of the key factors in the team’s success.
biggest thing is just being able to be out there every day and
pitch and help the team win,” he said. “As long as every time I
go out there I give the team a chance to win, I’m happy.”
(photos courtesy of Miami Media