Johan Santana is getting shut down for the year

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Johan Santana has been getting killed lately. Killed so bad that people have been talking about just shutting him down for the season. While the Mets first instinct was to put him on a pitch count, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that they have decided to simply shut him down instead.

Santana has a lower back inflammation and will be placed on the DL. No surgery is necessary.  Rubin reports that the Mets are taking this well, with Sandy Alderson saying that he’s confident Santana will be back next season and that Santana “accomplished quite a lot” given that it was his first season back following serious shoulder surgery.

And he did. Certainly the no-hitter, and at times early in the season he was effective. But whether it was a stamina issue or whether ongoing issues with his shoulder caused him to rely too much on his back or some other thing in that vein, he just wasn’t the old Johan for much of the year. A year in which Santana went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA and 111 strikeouts and 39 walks in 117 innings.  With that no hitter and another shutout he still leads the league in shutouts.

See you next year, Johan. Here’s hoping this is merely a bump on the long way back from major surgery.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉