The news wasn’t good for Johan Santana. He was examined today by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital For Special Surgery and will undergo minor elbow surgery that will end his season. Santana will have bone chips removed from his left elbow. The Mets said he is expected to be ready for spring training.
Several of Santana’s teammates said Monday they expected him to undergo surgery, and manager Jerry Manuel said he was “terribly concerned.” When Santana went to be examined today they weren’t expecting good news.
In fact, Mike Pelfrey said, “I don’t think anyone expects good news.”
Santana is as tough as they come. In the final weekend of the season last year, Santana pitched a three-hit shutout on a left knee that required surgery. For him to opt out of a start, he had to be really hurting.
Once again, the injury raised questions of how the Mets handle injuries. Manuel said: “He has not been throwing between starts for quite awhile. I would say since before the All-Star break. He has been pitching with this problem, but not with the level of discomfort he has now.”
A tip off was his decline in velocity, but the Mets, based on Santana saying he could pitch, kept sending him out there. Maybe they should have said no, scratched him earlier and done a MRI a month ago. It is a question that will be asked.
In response, GM Omar Minaya said in a conference call: “Up until his last start, it was something that he was able to pitch with. After his last start, he said this to us, and we are, as you say, wisely shutting him down.”
Santana had a 7-2 record and 1.77 ERA in his first 10 starts, averaging 6 2/3 innings start and 11.73 strikeouts and 7.09 hits per nine innings. Santana, who historically is a dominant second-half pitcher, still lasted as long in his subsequent starts, but was 6-7 with a 4.02 ERA. He averaged 5.36 strikeouts and 9.30 hits per nine innings.
Santana, 30, is in the second year of a six-year, $137.5 million contract.