Knowing they have little left to play for this season, the Mets shut down Johan Santana for the stretch run Thursday, placing him on the disabled list with inflammation in his lower back.
Santana first felt the discomfort flare up after his last start, in which he gave up six runs in five innings. Earlier this week, he underwent an MRI, which revealed the inflammation. So the Mets placed him on the DL prior to their 5-2 loss to the Rockies, saying they do not expect him to pitch again this season.
"I'm very confident he'll be back next season ready to go, hopefully in a stronger position than he was coming into this season," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "If you look back at this season and what we reasonably could've expected at the beginning of the year, he's accomplished quite a lot."
What Santana accomplished was keeping his surgically repaired left shoulder intact. The Mets did not know quite what to expect from Santana when he underwent a rare procedure in Sept. 2010 to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, then missed the entire 2011 season. But Santana jumped out to a 3-2 record and a 2.38 ERA over his first 11 starts, culminating in his June 1 no-hitter against the Cardinals.
Then his season took a dramatic turn, with Santana injuring his ankle and posting an 8.27 ERA the rest of the way. Though he says he could have pitched Thursday if needed, the two-time Cy Young winner also understands the value of shutting down and preparing for next year.
"My mindset was to start, but the doctors are thinking different now, so we'll go with everything they're saying," said Santana, who has one year and $30 million still guaranteed on his contract. "I want to keep pitching. I felt that I could pitch, but at the same time, I'm listening to them."