Mailbag: Time is on Santana's side

Mailbag: Santana still trying to find his groove

What are the Angels' future plans concerning Ervin Santana? Will they trade him? Only pitch him at home? What about pitching prospect Nick Adenhart? How close is he to being ready?
-- Nicholas L., Covina, Calif.

When Nolan Ryan, the greatest of all Angels pitchers, was Santana's age (24), his record in the Major Leagues was 19-24. Fighting his control, Nolan went 10-14 that year for the New York Mets and was traded to the Angels for an aging Jim Fregosi. At 25, Ryan found himself and launched a Hall of Fame career. The Mets regretted their impatience for several decades.

Santana's Major League record when he turned 24 was 28-16 -- significantly better than Ryan's. Santana has struggled at times this season, but he also has shown signs of greatness. I'm not suggesting that he's the next Ryan. What I am saying is that it's always a good idea to exercise patience with talent. Nurture it, give it room to grow and endure the hard times. The payoff is worth it.

I've been around Santana enough now to get a feel for what he's like; he's sensitive, and that can be a problem for a professional athlete aiming to please everyone. In time, he'll develop a thicker skin and learn how to carry the same confidence he brings to Angel Stadium to road venues. It's part of the process. This isn't fantasy baseball; these are real people.

Adenhart, like Santana, has star qualities. My best guess is that he's at least a year away from being part of a great rotation in Anaheim. No need to rush a talent like him. Give him time to fill out, develop his full repertoire with confidence and get a sense of dominating hitters at each level along the way. That's an important step in the process.

Who is the Angels' best Minor League power-hitting prospect? Who do you think is the best hitter to protect Vladimir Guerrero on the current roster?
-- Donald L., Cincinnati

Brandon Wood unquestionably is the best power threat in the system. He's not hitting with his familiar force at Triple-A Salt Lake, but all young hitters go through these periods. Mike Schmidt struggled mightily before emerging as a great power hitter. Mickey Mantle wanted to quit the game as a kid, and Willie Mays wondered if he'd ever hit big-league pitching.

Gary Matthews Jr. has been solid hitting behind Guerrero, and he'd be just as effective in the No. 3 spot with Vlad cleaning up. Garret Anderson's return is a big plus; the man is a threat, no matter what his critics claim. He commands respect.

Casey Kotchman is a versatile hitter behind Guerrero, and Howie Kendrick will evolve very soon into a 15-homer, .300 hitter capable of hitting anywhere in the lineup. Mike Napoli has tremendous raw power and excellent knowledge of the strike zone. Shea Hillenbrand -- yes, he has struggled -- has a history of driving in runs. The Angels have lots of options there.

What is the status of Dallas McPherson? Could he return this year? The Angels could sure use his bat at third base.
-- Chuck P., Huntington Beach, Calif.

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McPherson underwent serious back surgery on Jan. 22 for the removal of a central disk herniation. The recovery is long and arduous. It is unrealistic to think that he can come back this season.

The hope is that he'll take his time and be ready to go next season. He'll be 27 next spring, with a lot of good years left.

If the Yankees go after Bartolo Colon in free agency, is there a chance that the Angels might pursue Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez or another big-name player?
-- Daniel M., Anaheim

It is conceivable that there might be a far-reaching connection there -- Colon's salary could go toward a major import -- but we're getting too far ahead of ourselves. We have two-thirds of a great season left. Let's enjoy it.

Rumors are floating around that Troy Glaus is looking to get out of Toronto. Is there a chance that he wears an Angels jersey again?
-- David V., Simi Valley, Calif.

Third base is in good hands. I'm a big Chone Figgins fan; he's a winner, and he'll prove that in a variety of ways, as he has the past few days in breaking out of his slump. The guy had two fractured finger tips on his throwing hand, for crying out loud. Give him a little time to get a grip on his game.

As for Glaus, I have enough e-mails to realize that bringing the 2002 World Series MVP home would be a immensely popular move. Realistically? Hey, anything is possible. I'll leave you with my all-time favorite baseball quote from former pitcher Joaquin Andujar: "You can sum it all up in one word: youneverknow."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.