Sandy Alderson announced at a press conference yesterday that Johan Santana has been placed on the 15-day Disabled List with inflammation in his lower back retroactive to August 18. Alderson also said that he does not expect Santana to pitch again this season, but said he would be ready for Spring Training.
You never want to see this happen to your ace, or any of your starting pitchers. Back injuries often linger, especially with pitchers. However, there are plenty of positives that Mets fans can take away from this.
For one, there’s no more risking Santana’s arm this year. Looking back, expecting him to come back with a regular workload after not pitching in the big leagues since early September 2010 was insane. He said he had started his throwing program in mid-December, roughly six weeks earlier than he usually does. We are roughly six weeks away from the end of the season. His body is telling him to shut it down. Him pitching much further would have put his arm at a greater injury risk. And let’s face it: he may not be able to return from another big surgery again.
After the last game he pitched on August 17, I said in my game story that he should be shut down for the year, and this was even before we all knew about the seriousness of the back injury. I said that the fatigue is getting to Santana, which it clearly was. It was time to shut him down.
The hot topic around baseball all year has been Stephen Strasburg’s innings limit. After having Tommy John surgery in 2010 and making only five starts last year, he is on an innings limit of about 160. This scenario is a little bit different, considering Strasburg is a 24 year-old who will help the Nationals for the net five or six years, however, the Mets should have taken this stance with this situation, in my opinion, especially when you consider the fragility of Santana’s arm in the past.
Another positive to take away from this is the fact that we will now get to see an actual prospect in Santana’s slot in the rotation. No Tim Redding or Nelson Figueroa (no disrespect to them). Collin McHugh is the pitcher taking Santana’s spot and will get the start later today. He is somewhat similar to Dillon Gee (and could even be a little better) and he is certainly someone I will be excited to watch over the final six weeks of the season.
As I said, it’s always sad to watch your ace go down time after time. Hopefully, though, this will give Santana the rest he needs to return in 2013 ready to pitch a full season. It’s not great that he had to be shut down but hey, it could be much, much worse.
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