NEW YORK (AP) — Johan Santana is done for the year, and to say he had an up-and-down season would be an understatement of Cy Young proportions.
Explaining that their struggling ace is worn down from two years of rehabilitation and near-constant maintenance, the New York Mets placed Santana on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with inflammation in his lower back and said he is not expected to pitch again in 2012.
Doctors recommended rest, but not surgery.
"I wanted to keep pitching. I felt that I could pitch. But at the same time, I'm listening to them," Santana said. "They said that everything that I have done has been a lot. At some point I have to take some rest. At this point I think I agree with everything and we've just got to make sure we stay healthy and look forward to next year."
The 33-year-old Santana missed last season following major shoulder surgery in September 2010 to repair a torn anterior capsule. He got off to a strong start this year and pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history June 1 against St. Louis. But he threw a career-high 134 pitches in that game and is 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA since.
"I don't have any second thoughts about the way it was handled," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "This has not been a shoulder issue. So from that standpoint, I just don't see a direct correlation."
The tailspin got ugly after Chicago Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson stepped on Santana's foot on a play at first base July 6. Beginning with that outing, Santana went 0-5 with a 15.63 ERA in his final five appearances — becoming the first Mets pitcher to give up at least six runs in five consecutive starts.
The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner was 6-4 with a 2.76 ERA through June but ended up 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA. He threw 117 innings in 21 starts.
"At this point I'm very confident he'll be back next season and ready to go and hopefully in a stronger position than he was coming into this year," Alderson said. "If you look back at the season and what we reasonably could have expected at the beginning of the year, he's actually accomplished quite a lot. I think as we got close to midseason we recognized that, who knows how long Johan can go?
"I can't sit here and say this is a shock or even a surprise. It's disappointing, but that's the nature of things," the GM added. "I don't believe that fewer innings would have preserved Johan. ... I don't think he was overused. There were times when he had extra rest."
A few weeks after Johnson stepped on his foot, Santana was placed on the DL with a sprained right ankle. He was sidelined for three weeks, a stint that was also intended to recharge his surgically repaired shoulder.