March 14, 2011
After undergoing shoulder surgery last September, there was already a strong chance Johan Santana(notes) wouldn't be ready to pitch for the New York Mets until late June or early July. As spring training began, Santana was throwing on flat ground, building up his arm strength to the point where he could pitch from a mound.
But over the weekend, The Bergen Record reported that Santana wasn't making much progress beyond light throwing and the Mets were considering shutting down his rehab schedule. The report added that the Mets feel they'd be "lucky" if Santana was to pitch for them at all this season.
Not so fast, says Santana. The rehab is right on schedule. And whoever told The Record otherwise has a case of liar, liar, pants on fire, he says.
"I don't know who's saying that I'm not ready or whatever, because according to everything, the way it has been done, we're right on the right track and where we're supposed to be," Santana said. "Whoever is saying that I'm not ready, I think is lying. We are all on the same page here. And I've been doing my job and doing my rehab and everything the way it's supposed to be done."
Santana did admit that he's been feeling sore in his left shoulder, but that's normal at this stage of his rehab because the injured area is still weak. Pitching coach Dan Warthen backed up that assessment, saying that Santana was making progress in his rehab. He's been throwing the ball 30 times at 45 feet, and then 40 times at 70 feet. The throwing sessions have also increased from three times per week to four.
So who's to be believed? Santana presumably knows how he feels and whether or not he's struggling. He also has plenty of experience recovering from surgeries, having undergone procedures on his elbow and knee over the past three years. But having a torn anterior capsule repaired isn't an injury pitchers recover from easily. Just ask Mark Prior or Chien-Ming Wang(notes).
At the very least, Santana can't say the Mets are trying to rush him back on the field. The team appears to be moving cautiously with their star pitcher here, knowing that any setback in his rehab could keep him out longer or lead to further injury. That wouldn't help whatever thin chances they had at contention. And between being sued for $300 million and looking to sell a 25 percent share of ownership to help defray those costs, the Mets really don't need any more bad news or sunk costs.
There does seem to be a difference of opinion within the organization, however. Manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson say The Record's report was news to them. Are they trying to maintain a happy face before the Mets even begin the regular season, while someone else just couldn't resist telling the truth (or speculating) behind the shield of anonymity?
We'll know if and when Santana returns to the mound.