Johan Santana To Have Elbow Examined

As if the Mets’ injury problems couldn’t get any worse, it’s been announced that Johan Santana will miss Tuesday night’s start in Miami and have his elbow checked out by physician David Altcheck.

According to Mets manager Jerry Manuel:

“He has not been throwing between starts for quite awhile,” New York manager Jerry Manuel said Monday after his team’s 6-2 loss to Philadelphia. “I would say since before the All-Star break. He has been pitching with this problem, but not with the level of discomfort he has now. … Now, it concerns him.”

Since before the All-Star break, eh? Suddenly, Santana’s inconsistent command and velocity issues are explained.

You may remember that we discussed the possibility of an elbow injury right here at MetsToday back on June 15th.

To refresh your memory:

In the case Johan, he has had both a loss of command and velocity. From what I’ve seen, he’s also been throwing more pitches, and had a different approach from previous years, in that he’s been more aggressive about getting batters to swing and miss, as opposed to “pitching to contact” on occasion. As a result, he’s been throwing more sliders, which tend to put more strain on the elbow and forearm. Again, this is what my eyes tell me …

What does it mean? My best guess is that Johan is hiding an issue with his arm. He’s too much of a competitor to use it as an excuse, and he’s too intent on fulfilling the value of his contract and filling the role of “the franchise”, to consider taking off a few starts. He has watched so many players go on the DL, he may feel obligated to pitch through pain — the old concept of the captain must go down with the ship.

You may or may not also remember that Johan had an issue with his elbow in spring training, which some people thought may have been “made up” as an excuse to miss the World Baseball Classic. (You may also remember that the Mets scheduled, and then canceled, an MRI on his elbow back in February.) Now we may wonder if indeed Santana has had an elbow problem all year. Further, I wonder if his first two months of lights-out performances were thanks to the Mets’ magic needle — a cortisone shot. With nearly every injury that’s been reported this season, the first treatment has been a shot. That said it wouldn’t be surprising if Johan received one to provide temporary relief, and put off the inevitable.

In any case, Johan will not pitch on Tuesday night, and regardless of what the doctor says, it behooves the Mets to shut down Santana for the remainder of his senseless season. After all, there are at least four more years and about $100M left on his contract.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. sincekindergarten August 25, 2009 at 5:19 am
    The word is that David Wright wants to come back. He should be told, “Wait until ST. Get healthy for that.”

    In the meantime, the Mets medical staff should be smothered in bacon fat and dropped off near Limekiln Lake in the Adirondacks–which has a black bear problem. (They’re all over the place there, and they intrude on the local State campsite, as well as the semi-permanent camps along the north shore of the lake.) That seems all that they’re useful for–bear food.

  2. Walnutz15 August 25, 2009 at 9:34 am
    Rope me back into fandom when the headline reads: “METS FRONT OFFICE TO HAVE HEADS EXAMINED”
  3. isuzudude August 25, 2009 at 9:44 am
    It’s inevitable. Johan will need Tommy John Surgery and will miss all of 2010. Guarenteed.

    I find it amazing that the press can scoop which players were claimed on non-release trade waivers (information that is supposed to stay secret according to MLB regulations), but they couldn’t divulge to us that Johan hasn’t been throwing on the side since the all-star break – information that definitely would have helped generate better opinions regarding what to think of Johan’s drop in velocity and overall health.

    Trying to figure out why the Mets decided to push their $100-mil centerpiece to pitch through pain during a lost season leads me to one of two conclusions, although both could apply:
    1. The Mets are run by the stupidest people on the face of the planet
    2. The Mets want to sabotage themselves in an effort to be perennial losers. I know it doesn’t make sense but I’ve run out of excuses to cover for their ineptitude.