Santana to have MRI on pitching elbow

Mets pitcher Johan Santana will miss Tuesday's scheduled Mets pitcher Johan Santana will miss Tuesday's scheduled start with discomfort in his pitching elbow. Photo Credit: David Pokress

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If the Mets were still in the business of attaching catchphrases to their seasons, perhaps this one would work for 2009:

Whatever can go wrong will.

A Mets season dominated by injuries just hit four-alarm status, as Johan Santana's prized elbow is hurting enough that the lefthander is concerned about it, Jerry Manuel said.

So instead of pitching against the Marlins in Florida Tuesday night, Santana will spend the day getting an MRI and visiting with Dr. David Altchek.

Manuel hoped to have "something definitive" in terms of a diagnosis by sometime Tuesday, and the hours waiting will be painful for team officials.

Santana is the prize of the organization, the guy they gave $137.5 million less than two years ago to be the foundation of a championship team. So news of discomfort in his elbow is understandably troubling to a franchise now resigned to planning for 2010.

"I'm terribly concerned," Manuel said. "No question about it."

Manuel could not say how long the elbow has been bothering Santana, saying only that he thinks his ace hasn't been throwing off a mound between starts since before the All-Star break.

That timeline coincides with a noticeable drop in Santana's performance. He has been surprisingly hittable and throwing with less velocity.

Since June 1, Santana has a 4.02 ERA and has been averaging 5.4 strikeouts per nine innings, well below his career mark of 9.1.

He also is coming off five straight seasons in which he has thrown at least 219 innings.

Santana's teammates probably should be immune to injury news by now, but the fact that this latest development deals with Santana certainly created a new layer of doom in the clubhouse Monday after a third straight loss to the Phillies, 6-2.

"Injuries are a part of the game," David Wright said, "but we have more than our fair share."

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Mike Pelfrey said he noticed Santana had been icing his elbow more than in the past, but he didn't think it was anything more than the typical soreness that players expect during the grind of a 162-game schedule.

"Him being such a gamer, if he says, 'Hey, something's wrong,' then there's definitely something wrong with him," Pelfrey said.

Brian Schneider said Santana's location has been off lately, but he said he didn't know the elbow was bothering him.

"We all knew about his knee hurting him here and there," he said. "But that's the only thing I knew about. We didn't know anything about his elbow."

Manuel also seemed to be in the dark about Santana's elbow. The manager said he knew Santana had been pitching with discomfort since the All-Star break but that it wasn't until this latest development that he found out just how much pain Santana was in.

"I know now," Manuel said, "that it concerns him."

That means Santana's name officially can be added to the long list of Mets regulars who have gone down with injuries, many of which have resulted in lengthy stays on the disabled list. That fact more than anything else has derailed a season that began with such high hopes when the team broke camp in April.

"It's been a rough year," said Wright, who is on the DL while rehabbing from a concussion. "Obviously, we've had our fair share of bad luck. When it comes to these injuries, we've had some freak accidents and some guys just going out there getting hurt playing hard."

Said Manuel, "It doesn't surprise me anymore. We're building up equity in that area. And I think we have enough to last us a long, long time."

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