As Friday night’s game progressed into the later innings and Johan Santana continued to keep the Cardinals hitless, the camera would pan over to Terry Collins every so often, and you could tell that he was visibly worried. He wasn’t worried about whether or not Santana would keep the first no-hitter in Mets history going, but he was worried about his $137 million ace hurting his surgically repaired arm after almost two years of working to get to back on the field. What Collins said in his post-game press conference is what makes him a great manager.
Before the game started, Collins told the media he’d like to limit Santana to about 110 pitches that night. Little did he know, his ace wold reach that total in the 6th inning, but not give up any hits through that point. He said that in his heart, he felt that he should have taken Johan out of the game to protect his arm, but he knew that Mets history when it came to no-hitters, and he just couldn’t do it. Here’s part of what he was struggling with:
“I went against just about everything I stand for, and that’s taking a chance to hurt your whole ballclub for the next four months for an instant decision of glory in one inning. Is it worth it? I believe in the organization and I believe in the team, and I’m not here to destroy any of it. In my heart, I was very, very excited for Johan, very excited for everybody, but I kind of felt like I had made the wrong move.”
Santana wasn’t able to sleep Friday night because he was too excited and received too many calls and texts from friends congratulating
him on his accomplishment. On the other hand, Terry Collins couldn’t sleep either, but because he was terrified that his decision to keep Johan in the game to complete the no-no was the wrong move. Dan Warthen provided Collins support during the game that he made the right decision, and after the game, both Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon told their manager that he made the right move by leaving their ace in the ballgame.
What makes Terry Collins a great manager for the New York Mets? He knows the right balance in just about every situation. For instance, after D.J. Carrasco got hit by Ryan Braun, he immediately took out David Wright to protect him from getting hit. Wright was furious about the move because he’s a competitor, but Collins took that decision out of his hands. In Santana’s case, he took him to the side and said that he understood what was going on, but wanted to be sure that he’s not hurting himself. He gave Johan the opportunity to take control of this situation (which he needed to), and he did by making the decision for Terry by saying he wasn’t coming out.
Moving forward is what worries Collins the most; his goal was to have Santana be healthy all year and take the ball every five days. To ensure the health of his shoulder, the ace’s next start may be delayed a couple of days to give some extra rest. Santana said he feels fine after throwing two straight shutouts, but it will take him a couple days to recover and see how he feels in a bullpen session. It seems as if Collins acts as a father would with all his players. He loves seeing them succeed, but wants them to be happy and healthy in the long run. He truly cares about each and every one of his players. Thankfully, he made the right decision by keeping Johan in the ballgame and letting him have a say in the decision, but he won’t feel at ease until he sees how his southpaw pitcher responds to a career-high 134 pitches.
At the end of the day, it was 24 more pitches than Terry Collins wanted Johan to throw. Do I think that’s a big deal? No, but then again, he’s in uncharted waters when it comes to the recovery from this rare shoulder surgery. We’ll see how Santana responds, but in his 99th start as a Met, he became a Met forever.