Tag:Johan Santana
Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:50 pm

With 30 pitches, Santana hands Mets some hope

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- We still have no idea at all what Johan Santana can mean to the Mets this season.

But it sure is easy to see what he means to them this spring.

Simply by taking the mound, even for a 30-pitch bullpen session, Santana provides a hint of hope to a team that so often seems hopeless. Every day he shows up and his left shoulder doesn't hurt, the Mets can point to him and say, "See, here's something that could go right."

Because the perception of the Mets right now is that everything goes wrong.

So when manager Terry Collins opened camp Tuesday morning by declaring, "We're better than people think we are," it sure helped that the next thing we saw was Santana making his second bullpen appearance of the spring.

In case anyone missed it, Collins helped with emphasis, turning to say, "That's filthy," after one Santana changeup.

"That's not bad," he told the left-hander when it over. "That's not a bad day."

For the Mets, that qualifies as a major success.

For a manager trying to sell hope, there's no better evidence than a two-time Cy Young winner who missed all of last season taking the mound and giving a hint that this year he'll be able to pitch.

You can't blame Collins for getting perhaps a little over-optimistic, declaring Tuesday that he believes Santana will be ready for opening day, and that "I don't think there's any question."

You can't blame Collins for saying that he's hopeful Santana can make at least 25 starts this season.

"If he gives us 25-28 starts, we'll be a lot better."

Honestly, the Mets would settle now for an assurance that Santana will be able to take the mound for one regular-season start, and go from there. Honestly, even if and when he does start a game, they don't know if he'll be the same pitcher who has a 3.10 career ERA over 11 big-league seasons.

This isn't Adam Wainwright, who also missed all of 2011 but had the relatively predictable Tommy John elbow surgery. Santana, who turns 33 next month, is coming back from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder. History provides few examples of pitchers making successful returns.

For now, Santana says he's able to do all his work with no trouble.

"The ball was coming out of my hand pretty good," he said after Tuesday's session.

But even he knows that 30 pitches in February tell you little about where he'll be in April and beyond.

"The key is how I recover, from one game to another," he said. "I'm approaching everything one day at a time."

Told that Collins mentioned 25-28 starts, Santana said simply: "It would be great if that happened. I've got to get my first out of the way."

It's worth remembering that Santana did get on the mound last summer, and even made two minor-league starts. What he's doing now is only a big deal if he can carry it through to when spring training games begin in two weeks, and then to real games in April.

And what if he does?

The Mets would still face an uphill battle in an ever-improving National League East. Even a totally healthy Santana wouldn't turn the Mets into favorites, or even into contenders.

But for an organization that desperately needs to change the story, Santana is the guy with the best chance to help do it.

Collins is trying.

"I don't want people to think for one second that there are no expectations," he said. "There are expectations. We're going to compete. . . . We're going to play to play in the postseason."

Realistic or not, it's better to say that in February than to state the obvious, which is that they sure look overmatched.

Any day Santana gets to the mound, even for a 30-pitch bullpen session, Collins and the Mets can sell a little hope.

And even if Santana on the mound in February doesn't tell us whether Santana will be on the mound in April, it's better than the alternative.

Too often in recent days, the Mets have seen the alternative.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 5, 2011 6:13 pm

Mets' Santana not concerned about 2011

NEW YORK -- A week ago, Johan Santana was pitching in a minor-league game. This week, he's not throwing at all.

And the Mets still say they felt good about the results of the latest exam on Santana's left shoulder.

You want to know how hard it is to come back from anterior capsule surgery? That's how hard it is.

A setback like this, even if it means that Santana won't return to the big leagues this year, can't be seen as a big problem.

"If I pitch this season, that'll be great," Santana said Friday. "If I don't, as long as I feel healthy, that's what I'm looking for."

Santana said doctors told him that the fatigue they saw in his shoulder wasn't a huge concern.

"The doctors said it was too much, too soon," he said, explaining that he had tried to throw long toss the day after pitching three innings for Class A Port St. Lucie.

Santana could resume throwing sometime next week, but it's too early for the Mets to even think about when he would be ready for another minor-league game. The Mets say that it's still not impossible that he'll pitch in the big leagues before the end of the season, but they also admit that even a September start wouldn't give them much information about what to expect from him next year.

"I don't think we'll be able to make any definitive judgments on Johan by the end of the season," general manager Sandy Alderson said.

That's the way it is with this surgery, one that has proved particularly hard for pitchers to return from. Chien-Ming Wang and Mark Prior had similar surgeries, and neither has won a big-league game since.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 2, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2011 5:47 pm

Mets' Santana has a setback

Johan Santana's chances of pitching for the Mets this year got slimmer Tuesday, when the team announced that he would return to New York for a further examination of his surgically repaired left shoulder.

Santana, who made a rehabilitation start last week at Class A Port St. Lucie, was scheduled for another start Wednesday. The Mets first pushed it back by a day, then called it off after Santana experienced continuing discomfort in the shoulder.

Setbacks are hardly unusual for pitchers trying to come back from the surgery that Santana had, to repair a torn anterior capsule in the shoulder. Chien-Ming Wang, who had the surgery in July of 2009, finally returned to the major leagues for the first time last Friday night with the Nationals. Mark Prior still hasn't returned to the big leagues, after having the surgery in 2008.

The Mets had been encouraged by Santana's recovery, since he had the surgery last September. By pitching him in a rehab game last week, they started a 30-day clock that normally would have had him returning to the active roster later this month. The Mets can stop that clock now that Santana is going to get a further examination.

The Mets owe Santana $49.5 million over the next two seasons, with a $25 million option or $5.5 million buyout for 2014.
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 3, 2011 11:12 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 11:20 pm

More Mets woes: Wright out another month

NEW YORK -- At least Sandy Alderson still has a sense of humor.

It's gallows humor, yes. But these are the Mets.

"Maybe we'll have David [Wright] back for [Johan] Santana's first start," the Mets general manager said at the end of another typical Mets Friday night.

Alderson had just announced that Wright, despite no more tests, will now be held out of all baseball activities -- "essentially inactive," he said -- for another three weeks.

That means that Wright, who has already missed 2 1/2 weeks with a stress fracture in his back (which the Mets originally hoped would cost him only two weeks) will now be lucky to be back by the All-Star break. The Mets would like to think that Santana, recovering from shoulder surgery, will join them sometime in late July.

Alderson admitted he was surprised by the setback for Wright, given the lack of any new tests and given that Wright is, as he said, "asymptomatic."

"We had hoped he'd be cleared for baseball activity," Alderson said. "But this is something that needs time to heal."

Even the three-week timetable is no guarantee for Wright, as Alderson said doctors plan another X-ray of his back at that point. Even when Wright is cleared for baseball activity, he'll need time to get ready to play in major-league games, since by then he'll have missed more than a month.

It was more bad news at the end of another bad day for the Mets, who for the third time in four days turned a late-inning lead into a loss, this time 6-3 to the Braves. Making it even worse, Francisco Rodriguez gave up the three ninth-inning runs, giving him 22 games finished (with 33 more to go to trigger a $17.5 million option that the Mets can't afford).

Also Friday, injured first baseman Ike Davis said he has no idea when he'll be able to return.

And shortstop Jose Reyes committed an error on a routine play in the eighth inning, allowing the tying run to score.

Just another day for the Mets.

Posted on: March 30, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 4:05 pm

The All-DL opening day All-Stars

It's a team that might contend for a title, if it could only get on the field.

Then again, that's exactly the problem.

Think of the players that will (or likely will) begin the season on the disabled list. It's quite a group, lacking a little (for now) on the left side of the infield and behind the plate, but overflowing with top-level starting pitching and back-of-the-bullpen depth.

Not all the opening day rosters are official yet. Some teams are waiting until closer to Thursday's 11 a.m. deadline for final decisions, which only means that the All-DL-Stars could have an even better lineup by the time the first pitch is thrown.

Jason Bay, for example, should be your All-DL-Star left fielder by then. The Mets are expected to put him on the disabled list, but they haven't said so publicly yet. So I left him off, in part because this team is strong enough without him.

For now, we'll only go with guys we're pretty sure of.

So here goes:

1B -- Kendrys Morales, Angels

2B -- Chase Utley, Phillies

SS -- Clint Barmes, Astros

3B -- Nick Punto, Cardinals

LF -- Cody Ross, Giants (Bay could take his spot)

CF -- Grady Sizemore, Indians (with Franklin Gutierrez also available)

RF -- Corey Hart, Brewers

C -- Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers

Rotation -- Adam Wainwright, Cardinals; Zack Greinke, Brewers; Johan Santana, Mets; Mat Latos, Padres; Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays (with Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and others in reserve)

Closer -- Brian Wilson, Giants (with the Phillies' Brad Lidge and the A's Andrew Bailey setting him up)

You'd take that team, wouldn't you?

You'd be guaranteed to lose on opening day, because not one of them could play, but you'd take that team.

Posted on: March 13, 2011 10:25 am
Edited on: March 13, 2011 12:10 pm

Johan Santana's future remains a great unknown

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets apparently won't be shutting Johan Santana's rehab down immediately, so they were able to deny a Bergen Record report that said they might.

What they can't deny, and what's potentially more troubling to any chance the Mets have of contending this year, is that Santana's future remains a great unknown. They can't say for sure that he'll pitch for them this season, and more than that they can't say for sure how he'll pitch.

"Time will tell," Santana said Sunday morning, when he was asked directly whether he can be the same dominating pitcher he once was.

As The Record said, the history of pitchers who have had surgery similar to Santana's isn't good. Mark Prior and Chien-Ming Wang both had to have torn anterior capsules fixed; neither one has a major-league win post-surgery.

Santana said doctors told him only that "everything was a success" in surgery, and that the recovery would take a while.

"I'm aware," he said. "They told me it's a long process."

Santana isn't all that far along in the process yet. He has graduated from playing catch every other day at 45 feet to playing catch on back-to-back days at 60 feet, but even in the best-case scenario he's more than a month away from throwing off a bullpen mound.

Santana underwent surgery on his left shoulder last September. He made 29 starts last year for the Mets, with a 2.98 ERA, but his strikeouts per nine innings were a career-low 6.5 (down from 10.5 in 2004, when he won the first of his two Cy Young awards).

Santana, who turned 32 on Sunday, insisted that the rehab from surgery is going according to plan.

"We're on the right track," he said. "Hopefully you can clarify that I'm on the right track."

But even Santana admitted that it's impossible to commit to any timetable at this point.

"If we have to take more time, we'll take more time," he said.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen was more emphatic.

"Everything's fine," Warthen said.

Asked if he can say for sure that Santana will pitch for the Mets this year, Warthen said, "Absolutely. The doctors, myself and the rehab people, everybody feels he's going to pitch this year."

But even if he does pitch, what will he look like? Will he look like a pitcher you want to guarantee $77.5 million -- what the Mets still owe him -- over the next three years?

Even Warthen admitted that he can't answer that question yet. No one with the Mets can.

That part, they can't deny.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 6, 2010 10:19 am

3 to watch, The Wounded rivals edition

So now we know why baseball assigned the Red Sox and Phillies the role of interleague rivals this year, meeting in home-and-home series the way the Cubs and White Sox do, the way the Dodgers and Angels do, the way the Yankees and Mets do.

They don't share a city. They do share a story.

Even in a year where injuries have been a bigger story than ever, no teams have been hit the way these two teams have.

The Phillies have been without their second baseman, the guy who represents everything about the way they play, since June 28. The Red Sox have been without their second baseman, the guy who represents everything about the way they play, since June 25.

The Phillies lost their first baseman this week. The Red Sox lost their first baseman this week.

The Phillies have had to maneuver their outfield because their center fielder is out. The Red Sox have started a different outfield almost every night this season.

The Phillies are 60-48, and if the season ended today, they'd miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The Red Sox are 62-47, and if the season ended today they'd miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Same story. Same season?

Not exactly, and the difference shows up this weekend, when both the Phillies and the Red Sox have New York on their schedule. There's the big difference.

The Red Sox play the Yankees, the team with baseball's best record, in a series that could either keep them alive in the American League East or basically shoot down whatever hopes remain. The Phillies play the Mets, the team that proves that getting healthy doesn't always mean getting well, in a series that could basically shoot down whatever slim hopes the Mets have left.

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Twins won the American League Central last year, even though Joe Mauer missed the first month of the season and Justin Morneau missed most of the last month. Now the Twins are playing with a banged-up Mauer and with Morneau out of the lineup. But they do have Francisco Liriano, who has a 21-inning scoreless streak, heading into his start in Twins at Indians, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field . In three starts against the Tribe this year, Liriano is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA.

2. So much has gone wrong for the Mets, but was there anything worse than the Sunday night game in Philadelphia on May 2, when Johan Santana walked Jamie Moyer with the bases loaded, and Shane Victorino followed that up with a grand slam? Santana's first start against the Phillies since that night comes in Mets at Phillies, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park . At least he won't be facing Moyer or Victorino. Both, of course, are on the disabled list. Cole Hamels starts for the Phillies

3. In his final year with the Blue Jays, A.J. Burnett was 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox. It's one big reason the Yankees saw fit to give him a five-year, $82.5 million contract. In his first year and a half as a Yankee, Burnett is 0-3 with a 9.85 ERA in six starts against the Red Sox. It's one big reason that contract seems even more dangerous today. But the ever-inconsistent Burnett is always capable of a great game, and perhaps it will come in Red Sox at Yankees, Sunday night (8 ET) at Yankee Stadium . Josh Beckett, who is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA since coming off the disabled list (of course), starts for Boston.
Posted on: June 25, 2010 10:26 am

3 to watch: The Wrong place, wrong time edition

If we're going to have one final weekend of interleague play, we may as well have Dodgers-Yankees.

Too bad they put it in the wrong place.

Too bad that right before, or right after, Manny in Boston we didn't get Joe in New York.

Joe Torre against the Yankees is a nice little side story. Joe Torre against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium would have been a must-watch.

"It certainly would have been something that would have been exciting," Torre said last weekend. "There's no question."

A Torre appearance in Yankee Stadium wouldn't have presented Yankee fans with the same conflicted feelings that Manny Ramirez in Fenway Park presented the people of Boston. But it sure would have been interesting to see how Yankee management reacted, given the 2007 breakup and the Yankees' reluctance ever since then to acknowledge that Torre was such of big part of their recent history.

Torre against the Yankees at Dodger Stadium doesn't have the same feel. With the exception of Alex Rodriguez, the Yankee players have professed their love for their former manager (and vice-versa). There will be hugs all around.

And as for Torre at Yankee Stadium, there's always the World Series. Torre likes to remind people that the Dodgers were two wins away from giving him that return last October.

"That would have been pretty wild," he said.

It could still happen, but given the likelihood that Torre leaves the Dodgers after this season, it would probably need to happen this October.

In any case, Dodgers-Yankees is one of a few potential World Series previews on this final-weekend interleague schedule. You've also got Twins-Mets, Rockies-Angels and Tigers-Braves, as you can see on this weekend's edition of 3 to watch:

1. The Tigers don't say that Brennan Boesch is going to have a better career than Jason Heyward. But they do like to point out that right now, Boesch has better numbers than Heyward. In any case, in a year where the rookie class has been heavily tilted towards the National League, the Tigers are the exception, with an outstanding rookie class of their own. They'll show off another one -- 22-year-old left-hander Andy Oliver -- in Tigers at Braves, Friday night (7:35 EDT) at Turner Field . One rival scout who saw Oliver recently at Double-A Erie said "his stuff is electric," and predicted that at the very least the Tigers would use him as a nasty left-on-left reliever in September. Now, with Rick Porcello getting a tune-up at Triple-A Toledo, Oliver gets his chance early.

2. Torre made his feelings about the Dodger rotation known late in spring training, when he named Vicente Padilla as his opening day starter. No one -- then or now -- would call Padilla the Dodgers ace, but in Yankees at Dodgers, Friday night (10:10 EDT) at Dodger Stadium , he opposes Yankee ace CC Sabathia. It's hard to imagine the Dodgers spending money to add a true ace this summer, but it's hard to imagine them getting to that Torre-in-New York World Series without one.

3. We don't get Torre in New York, and we also don't get Johan in Minnesota, because Johan Santana's first-ever meeting with his former team comes in Twins at Mets, Saturday afternoon (1:10 EDT) at Citi Field . Oh well. At least we get Carl in New York. That's Carl Pavano, who starts for the Twins Saturday, and presents us with this question: When he gets booed, will it be because of the Mets fans who always boo any current or former Yankee (even Phil Coke of the Tigers on Thursday night), or will it be Yankee fans, who with good reason never warmed up to the guy who basically stole money from them for four years? One other starter who will be on the minds of fans of both of these teams: Cliff Lee. If the Twins and Mets are going to meet in October, you've got to figure that means one of them has traded for the left-hander whose presence in Philadelphia prevented Dodgers-Yankees last October.
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