Mets' David Wright says Johan Santana injury 'disheartening'
The New York Mets captain spoke with Santana on Thursday night after the team announced the two-time Cy Young Award winner probably has re-torn the anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder.
''He's just kind of in a bit of shock. I don't think anyone was expecting this,'' Wright said Friday. ''For everyone, it's kind of shocking. It's disheartening.''
Coming off four straight losing seasons, four consecutive years of declining home attendance and the offseason trade of R.A. Dickey to Toronto for prospects, the Mets don't appear to be very promising heading into Monday's opener against San Diego.
Santana had surgery Sept. 14, 2010, and did not make it back to the Major Leagues until last April 5. The 34-year-old left-hander hasn't pitched in any exhibition games during spring training because of arm weakness, and he threw his last bullpen session in early March without the team's permission. He had been throwing off flat ground.
''I was fairly concerned early on,'' pitching coach Dan Warthen said. ''I knew he hadn't thrown a whole lot, hadn't worked out a whole lot. You thought, 'All right, this is going to take a lot longer than a normal Spring Training would be.' But as it went on, it became more of a concern.''
Santana went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts last year and threw the first no-hitter in team history June 1 against St. Louis.
Santana threw a career-high 134 pitches that night in his second consecutive shutout, but was 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA after that, including 0-5 with a 15.63 ERA after throwing eight scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 30.
He went on the disabled list for three weeks because of a sprained ankle and didn't pitch after Aug. 17 because of lower back inflammation.
Warthen said the injury is ''not a byproduct of the no-hitter.'' Warthen said Santana never looked like his past self during spring training.
''He had trouble getting his arm in the throwing position, and when he finally felt like that was pretty good, the ball didn't come out like it normally did from Johan's arm,'' Warthen said.
New York owes Santana $31 million more as part of the $137.5 million, six-year deal he signed before the 2008 season, and general manager Sandy Alderson said the remainder of the contract is not covered by insurance.
Reliever Tim Byrdak underwent similar surgery in September and described the long recovery.
''To know you are going in the operating room and you won't be able to use that left arm for a month to six weeks, can't put a shirt on and you can't use it, the slow, manipulative process of trying to get that range of motion and everything, it affects you,'' Byrdak said. ''You don't sleep much the first two months because you are in a brace and stuff, so you are not sleeping and you're trying to get stuff done, trying to get that range of motion back.
''To go through it a second time, I think it's actually harder because you know what's ahead. The first time you go through it, you don't know what to expect. The second time, you know how far you have to go.''
Wright said if Santana's career is over, he will go out as one of the best. Santana is 45-34 with a 3.18 ERA for the Mets after going 93-44 with a 3.22 ERA in eight years with the Minnesota Twins. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2004 and 2006.
New York's remaining rotation includes left-hander Jonathon Niese and righties Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, Jeremy Hefner and Shaun Marcum, who has been sidelined since March 16 because of a shoulder impingement and neck discomfort.
Niese will start the season opener Monday against San Diego, an assignment that almost surely would have gone to Santana if healthy. Hefner will take Santana's place in the rotation, and Marcum is scheduled to start the sixth game of the season against Miami.
''We have guys that can step up and get the job done on the field,'' Wright said. ''That's not the concern. For me, what the concern is: I feel for Johan. You do something for so long, you are so successful at it, to have a setback like this, it hits everyone hard.'