Johan Santana won’t pitch again this season because of inflammation in his lower back, yet the New York Mets expect the 33-year-old left-hander to be back at full strength for the 2013 campaign.
Santana was placed on the disabled list and will be replaced in the Mets’ starting rotation by rookie right-hander Collin McHugh. Santana doesn’t need surgery, the Major League Baseball team said.
“I’m very confident that he’ll be back next season and ready to go, and hopefully in a stronger position than he was coming into this year,” Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson told reporters. “If you look back at the season and what we reasonably could have expected at the beginning of the year, he’s actually accomplished quite a lot.”
Santana had a 6-9 record with a 4.85 earned run average in 21 starts after missing the 2011 season following surgery on his pitching shoulder. On June 1 Santana threw the first no-hitter in franchise history, yet in his past five starts he was 0-5 with a 15.63 ERA.
Santana’s back stiffened after his last start and then again after a throwing session this week. Tests revealed swelling around a disc in his lower back and the Mets opted to shut him down for the rest of the season rather than risk further injury. Santana has had surgery on his left elbow, right knee and left shoulder since joining the Mets in 2008.
“I wanted to keep pitching,” said Santana, who went 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA following his 134-pitch no-hitter. “It’s too bad that I have to go down like this, but it’s part of the game.”
Santana, American League Cy Young Award winner with the Minnesota Twins in 2004 and 2006, is under contract for $25.5 million next season. He’s played one full season since signing a $137.5 million contract with the Mets.
“In the big scope of things, this has been a very positive year for him,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He’s made it through a surgery that nobody thought he could. He’s healthy. He’s got a tweak in his back but, with rest and exercises, it will go away.”
At 57-67, the Mets have slipped out of playoff contention, 20 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals in the National League Eastern Division. They’re 10 games out in the race for a wild card playoff spot.
“Now that I’m going to rest and let my body heal, I think I’m going to be fine,” said Santana, who’s looking ahead to next season. “My mindset is to be ready to go from day one.”
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