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Mets’ Santana out for year

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Associated Press
August 26, 2009
— Johan Santana needs surgery for bone chips in his left elbow and the star pitcher is out for the season, the latest blow to a New York Mets team battered by injuries.

The team said their 30-year-old ace is expected to be OK for spring training next year. He was examined Tuesday by Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek in New York.


“It’s not the worst,” Santana said on a conference call. “Believe me, I’m going to be ready.”


Santana said he had the same operation after the 2003 season, and came back with a career-high 20 wins and the first of his two Cy Young Awards for Minnesota.


“I know myself,” he said. “I’ve been through this before. I know exactly what it is.”


Mets general manager Omar Minaya said Santana was evaluated around the All-Star break as his stats dipped, adding the injury worsened in recent weeks, especially after his last start. The GM said “nothing major was there” during the previous checkup.


“It’s mostly soreness,” Minaya said on a conference call. “We all want to see Johan Santana pitching in September. But this is a smart move because we want to see him pitching for the long haul.”


The Mets had feared a major setback to Santana, who has four seasons left on his $137.5 million, six-year contract. Instead, he will have arthroscopic surgery.


Santana said that had the Mets been in the middle of a pennant race, rather than lagging well below .500, he would’ve tried to keep pitching.


“I didn’t want to shut it down,” he said. That said, “you don’t want to go out there and blow it and make it worse.”


Santana went 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA in 25 starts in his second year with the Mets. Strong at the start of the season, his numbers had dropped noticeably since June — he was 7-2 with a 1.77 ERA and averaged nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings before then, but was 6-7 with a 4.02 ERA and averaged 5½ strikeouts after.


Manager Jerry Manuel said Santana complained of elbow soreness after his last outing, and the team decided to shut him down.


Santana was put on the 15-day disabled list and became the 12th Mets player on the DL.


Red Sox acquire Wagner

Billy Wagner is on his way to the Boston Red Sox, leaving the for the chance to pitch in a pennant race as a setup man for All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon.


After a few days of back-and-forth talks about Wag-ner’s future, the depleted Mets traded the left-handed reliever to the Red Sox on Tuesday for two players to be named.


The AL wild-card leaders had claimed Wagner on waivers, and the teams worked out a deal that persuaded Wagner to waive his no-trade clause. Wagner’s main motivation, according to agent Bean Stringfellow, was his “overwhelming desire to pitch in a pennant race.”


“He woke up and decided he wanted to join a team in the middle of a pennant race to have a chance to pitch in October and to have a chance to get a ring, which he’s never done,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. “There were some ups and downs and turns in the decision, but in the end he told us he woke up today and really wanted a chance to win a World Series, and came here for all the right reasons.”


Boston agreed not to pick up his $8 million option for next season, Stringfellow said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. The Red Sox can still offer salary arbitration to Wagner in the offseason, Stringfellow said, meaning they would be entitled to draft picks as compensation if he signs elsewhere.


The 38-year-old Wagner will join the team in Boston on Thursday.


Papelbon has 29 saves in 32 opportunities this season, with a 2.04 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 53 innings. He had been protective of his role and publicly lukewarm to the idea of Wagner joining the bullpen, but the 28-year-old righty called Wagner to make him feel welcome and said Tuesday he was not bothered by the acquisition.


Wagner ranks sixth all-time with 385 career saves, and wants to finish out his career as a closer. He’s not likely to get that chance this year with Boston; then again, he hasn’t gotten to pitch in the World Series, either.


Had Wagner rejected the deal, the Mets would have had to pay the nearly $3.5 million left on his contract.


Wagner has pitched two scoreless innings since recently returning from major surgery on his left elbow last September. He had lost his role as the Mets’ closer after their offseason acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez.



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