Baseball-Major League Baseball roundup

Feb 8 (The Sports Xchange) - Baltimore Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter is expected to take over as the team's closer, according to

The Orioles originally swapped closers with the Oakland A's when they traded Jim Johnson in early December for Grant Balfour and agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal with the Australian.

However, the Orioles called off the signing because they had concerns about the health of his arm. Balfour eventually signed with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Hunter, a former starter, pitched out of the Orioles' bullpen last season. He went 6-5 with a 2.81 ERA, 68 strikeouts, 14 walks and four saves in 86 1/3 innings.

The 27-year-old is 39-29 with a 4.48 ERA over his major-league career with the Texas Rangers (2008-10) and Orioles.

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New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is not expected to pitch this season because he is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he told the New York Post that he plans to start throwing on Feb. 22.

"They said I should be able to start throwing four months after the surgery and that's Feb. 22, and I haven't had any setbacks," Harvey said. "I can't wait. Even if it's 10 feet, I just want to pick up a ball. As of right now, I don't see why I wouldn't be able to do that."

Harvey also told WFAN Radio that his rehab is going "really smoothly" since his Oct. 22 surgery and that he recently resumed weight training. He plans to report to spring training on Feb. 15 with the Mets' other pitchers and catchers.

Harvey hopes to pitch before the end of the season, but reported that general manager Sandy Alderson told season-ticket holders it is unlikely that he will pitch this year, even if the Mets are in a pennant race.

Harvey, 24, went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts before the elbow injury ended his season. He started for the National League in last year's All-Star game in New York.

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Free-agent left-hander Johan Santana threw off a mound for the first time Friday since recovering from surgery to repair a re-tear of the anterior capsule muscle in his left shoulder.

Santana, a winner of two Cy Young Awards who last pitched in 2012, is attempting to come back.

"Just want to let you guys know that I started throwing off the mound this week, and I feel great!!! One step closer!!! Believe it!!!" Santana wrote on Twitter.

There were reports in December that he was close to signing a minor league deal. Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan expressed some interest but said he did not expect Santana to be ready to pitch until midseason.

Santana had the first surgery in 2010 and missed the 2011 season. He pitched 117 innings in 2012 before getting shut down by the New York Mets. He had the second operation last April.

Santana is 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA with 1,988 strikeouts and 567 walks in 2,025 2/3 innings over a 12-year career with the Twins and the New York Mets.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers appear to have agreed to a contract with free-agent left-hander Paul Maholm. Multiple media outlets reported Saturday that Maholm has a locker set up in the clubhouse at the team's spring training complex in Arizona.

Maholm, 31, went 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA in 26 starts with the Atlanta Braves last year. He also missed time with wrist and elbow injuries.

Maholm may fit the bill for the Dodgers' need for a No. 5 starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Ryu Hyun-jin and Dan Haren. Right-handers Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley are recovering from injuries.

Dodgers' pitchers and catchers reported to spring training on Saturday.

(Editing by Andrew Both)