“Kid gloves,’’ is the term with how the Mets will treat Johan Santana’s return this afternoon in a split-squad game against St. Louis.
Santana, recovering from shoulder surgery, is scheduled for two innings or 35 pitches – whichever comes first – and regardless of how he’s doing there will be no debate.
“I’m not going to do anything crazy,’’ said Santana, a phrase he’s uttered several times during his rehab from shoulder surgery. Santana has repeatedly said this is a process and nothing good can come from him overthrowing.
Mechanics and how he responds are what’s important at this stage. Results don’t mean anything, even if he sets down the side in order twice.
“I’m really excited to see him out there,’’ Collins said. “Obviously (in two days) is when I want to really see how he’s doing, because that will be a test on how he’s going to bounce back.’’
Santana is coming off a serious injury, one most pitchers haven’t been able to do. But, Santana isn’t most pitchers. He has a powerful will which has carried him to this point and hopefully to a full recovery.
His biggest danger is succumbing to adrenalin and emotion today. To get amped to where he’ll try to throw it past a hitter is a temptation he should be smart enough to resist. But, as extraordinary a pitcher Santana has been during his career, he’s still human.
Emotion has carried him in the past, but he can’t afford to be guided by it today.