03.29.13

Joel Sherman Is Pretty Sure He Knows The Exact Moment Johan Santana’s Mets Career Came To An End…

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 7:10 am by

…and to hear the New York Post baseball scribe tell the tale, the incident had little to do with Santana’s no-hitter against St. Louis last June. Following Thursday’s grim announcement the Mets’ formerly talismanic starter had suffered a re-tear of his left anterior shoulder capsule, Joel Shermanmindful of Santana’s squabbles with his employers earlier this Spring — suggests a March 3 game of catch with Pedro Feliciano was the straw that, well, snapped Johan’s shoulder.

Santana played long toss with Pedro Feliciano. In this game, Santana stood on the left field foul line and Feliciano slowly backed up. It was 45 feet, then 60, then 90, until he was 180 feet away. Then he slowly reeled back in to 120, 90 and then maybe 15 or 20 for a short lob back and forth.

However, for his last throw, Santana did not lob the short distance to Feliciano. Instead, he wound up and fired a ball off the orange homer demarcation above the wall just to the left of the 410 sign in center. The throw had to be at least 225-250 feet and it was done in fury, like a child acting out.

I thought it was bizarre. I included it in my column the next day. But I didn’t think much more of it because Santana then went and threw that 15-pitch pen. I figured if he had hurt himself, then why go to the mound.

But now in retrospect, I wonder. I wonder if an organization behaving badly — by calling Santana out — and Santana acting badly — by throwing a temper-tantrum and a ball 250 feet in anger — is why this sad news about the lefty’s career came yesterday.

While Faith & Fear In Flushing’s Greg Prince is quick to credit Santana for his heroics-when-healthy (“Johan carried us when he could, which became an increasingly infrequent circumstance until it reached a point where his carrying a baseball and firing it to a catcher posed a clear and present danger to himself”), he also finds this all too typical of the franchise.

You become a Mets fan, you learn about all kinds of anatomy you hadn’t heard of before. You join the Mets, something’s bound to go wrong with parts of you that seemed just fine in Minnesota or wherever. You subject yourself to repair, you rehabilitate as hard as you can, you make your way back and eventually something else doesn’t work to factory specifications. The people who pay you — and pay you very well — estimate you’ll return again any day or week or month now…or perhaps your career is over.

The Mets can never get their story straight when that happens. “You’ll see him when you see him” would be as good a status report as any to issue. “We don’t know — do we look like we know?” would be reasonably accurate, too. And if you’re contemplating the time frame the Mets suggest regarding any given player’s availability after injury, just multiply it by infinity so it will be a nice surprise should he return at all.

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