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Yankees scout watches Johan Santana struggle in workout

Johan Santana throws before the Mets' spring training

Johan Santana throws before the Mets' spring training game against the Detroit Tigers in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (March 1, 2013) Credit: AP

TAMPA, Fla. - How interested are the Yankees in Johan Santana?

Interested enough to be among the handful of teams that sent a scout to Fort Myers, Fla., Tuesday to watch the veteran lefthander throw a bullpen session.

An opposing team talent evaluator said Santana, who turns 35 March 13 and is coming off surgery last April to repair a torn capsule in his left shoulder, topped out at 81 mph.

"Brutal," the scout said.

Santana started throwing again earlier this month, observed by plenty of other teams during those workouts. "Most in Florida have seen him or will see him," one talent evaluator said.

Reports have said Santana is aiming for a return sometime in June.

But any team, including the Yankees, willing to sign Santana, who hasn't pitched in a big-league game since Aug. 12, 2012, with the Mets, likely would be doing so with an eye more on 2015 than this season.

Up and at 'em

Presumed closer David Robertson threw his first live BP of the spring early Tuesday morning, a 21-pitch session to righthanded batters Eduardo Nuñez and Zelous Wheeler and lefthanded batters Corban Joseph and Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury did not swing, tracking six pitches.

"Best I've thrown," Robertson said as he came off the field before smiling, "for 8:30 in the morning."

Peña: Change overdue

While current Yankees catchers were vague on their feelings about the rule change that tries to lessen the number of collisions at the plate -- "I'm not for it or against it," John Ryan Murphy said, a sentiment echoed by Brian McCann -- a former catcher, Tony Peña, didn't equivocate.

"I'm glad and I'm happy to see that particular rule changed because so many catchers have been hurt," said Peña, Joe Girardi's bench coach. "I know a lot of people are going to say, 'Oh, they're going to take a lot away from the game.' But we don't want to see anybody get hurt in this game. I think it's a great idea. I, 100 percent, agree with it."

Said Girardi: "The rule is designed to get rid of the senseless collisions."

Start felt good to Nuño

Though it was against a college team, lefthander Vidal Nuño made the most of his chance to make a good first impression in his battle for the fifth starter spot. The 26-year-old started against Florida State and allowed an infield single and struck out three in two innings.

"I felt good," Nuño said. "I have a lot more work to do but overall I'm happy with where I'm at right now. Throwing strikes is my main concern right now."


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