When the Mets placed Johan Santana on the disabled list after his third straight lackluster start, the organization made it clear that there was no problem with his surgically repaired shoulder, but it was his tender ankle that was preventing him from using his normal pitching motion. Now that the southpaw has had a few extra days to rest that ankle, he is expected to start throwing off a mound in the middle of next week. Frank Francisco and Mike Baxter also took steps forward in returning to the Big League roster yesterday.
As long as all goes well with Santana’s bullpen sessions, Terry Collins expects him to be starting for the Mets again on either August 8th or 9th. He hit the disabled list for the first time this season on July 21st, a couple of weeks after he injured his ankle against the Cubs at Citi Field right before the All-Star break. It was obvious that something was up with Santana, as his velocity decreased and he posted an 0-3 record with a 13.51 ERA in his last three starts. He was adamant that his arm wasn’t bothering him, but did tell the coaching staff that his ankle was hampering his pitching motion. Although Santana said he’s rather pitch through it, he’s getting some rest first, as the Mets want to make sure this injury doesn’t effect anything else for their ace.
After receiving a cortisone shot in his sore right knee, Frank Francisco began his rehab assignment with the Double-A Bingahmton Mets, and he looked a bit rusty. In 0.2 of an inning, he gave up one run on three hits and one walk, while striking out one hitter. The closer threw 24 pitches, 14 that crossed through the strikezone. As long as he still feels good, Sandy Alderson told reporters that he will pitch again for Binghamton either tonight or tomorrow, trying to stay on schedule for an early August return at the latest.
In what is probably the best news of all, Terry Collins told the media that he could realistically see Mike Baxter being back with the Mets by the time they arrive in San Francisco to face off against the Giants on Monday. Baxter has been out since June 1st when he displaced his collarbone saving Santana’s no-hitter. His rehab has taken longer than New York was anticipating, but it’s clear that he hasn’t skipped a beat at the plate. Through each level of the minors, he’s been producing very well with the bat, and in two games with Triple-A Buffalo, he’s 4-for-8 with 2 RBI. The last step of his rehab is to get some more time in the outfield to ensure his arm strength is where it needs to be. Collins has stated numerous times that Jason Bay will continue playing consistently, and it would seem that Kirk Nieuwenhuis would be the roster casualty to make room for Baxter with the Mets.