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MLB notebook:

Associated Press

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Kansas City Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar likely will miss at least the first two months of the season because of a sprained ligament in his right elbow.

Hochevar, the first pick in the 2006 amateur draft, got hurt Monday in Surprise, Ariz., while pitching to Matt Davidson, his final batter in a two-inning outing against the Chicago White Sox. The sprain was revealed in an MRI.

Manager Ned Yost said Wednesday that Hochevar won’t throw for two to three weeks and “probably the best-case scenario” would be a return at the end of May.

Hochevar was 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA and two saves in 58 relief appearances last year. He is earning $5.21 million and is eligible for free agency after the season.

Comeback attempt

Two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana is hoping the Baltimore Orioles’ patience with him pays off in another chance to pitch in the big leagues.

Once a dominant pitcher for the Minnesota Twins and New York Mets, Santana was out of the majors last season while recuperating from surgery on his left shoulder. He signed a one-year, incentive-laden contract with the Orioles on Tuesday, and worked out with them Wednesday.

Santana, 34, said he’s not ready to pitch in the major leagues. Baltimore has set a target of June 1 for his arrival.

He is 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA in 11 seasons. He pitched the only no-hitter in New York Mets history in 2012.

Santana is eager to show he can still be effective. Last week in a showcase for the Orioles and other major-league teams, Santana struggled to throw more than 80 mph.

“As long as I don’t feel anything in my arm, I’ll be able to go out there. I know what to do,” Santana said.

Rangers sign Saunders

Joe Saunders was the opposing pitcher who helped end the Texas Rangers’ last playoff appearance two seasons ago.

Now the veteran left-hander will get a chance to earn a spot in the Texas rotation after finalizing a one-year contract that guarantees him the $500,000 minimum.

Saunders’ salary would increase to $1.5 million if he makes the team. He can earn performance bonuses in addition to his salaryl.

Saunders, 32, has an 89-81 career record with a 4.30 ERA in 221 games, all starts with the Los Angeles Angels (2005-10), Arizona (2010-12), Baltimore (2012) and Seattle (2013). The left-hander was 11-16 with a career-high 5.26 ERA in 32 starts last season before Seattle declined his 2014 option.

See ya later, alligator

Torii Hunter said he didn’t really kiss an alligator.

The Detroit outfielder was featured in a viral photo from spring training that showed him puckering up next to the bounded mouth of a gator — but he told reporters Wednesday in Lakeland, Fla., he was just “on the backside of it” and there was no kiss.

Hunter said he’d never touched a gator before.

Back in lineup

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (wrist) and outfielder Alfonso Soriano (flu) are expected to return for today’s game against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. Teixeira was limited to 15 games because of injury last season, batting .151 with three homers and 12 RBI.

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