The optimism of Spring Training has given way to a familiar sickening feeling for Mets fans. And it’s only March 1st.
Johan Santana reported pain in his left elbow, and was due to get an MRI in New York on Sunday. Then, due to bad weather conditions in New York, the medical staff was due to fly to Florida to examine Santana (good news, no doubt, for the medical staff). Then, Santana proclaimed himself pain free after a bullpen session, and said there was “no reason” for an examination of his arm.
All that’s fine, but doesn’t Santana’s situation give you flashbacks to how you’ve felt the past couple of years? Like the first time Pedro showed signs of breaking down at the end of the 2005 season? His total physical meltdown of 2006 and 2007? And watching him try to come back as a shadow of his former self, often throwing in the low-eighties news? Or does it remind you more of Billy Wagner? He had discomfort in his elbow, and we all assumed he would return for the stretch run. Then, one day, he throws a pitch in a simulated game, and says no mas. Just like that – Tommy John surgery.
After 234 innings, and a rush to get into shape for the WBC, Johan Santana’s elbow injury brings about that same sinking feeling in the pit of a Mets fan’s stomach. If this is an indicator of a more serious injury, and if he needs The Surgery, he will be out for the year. Now, the Mets’ starting rotation is nice, and will have plenty of help from the bullpen, but without Santana, that puts a lot of pressure on Maine, Perez, and Pelfrey to be the ace. In Santana, the Mets have guy they can count on every fifth day to win a game more often than not.
For the Mets to have a chance this year, they will need to hear more about Johan Santana than Tommy John, another nice lefty who’s now known more for the surgery named after him. Until we hear more, keep holding your breath.