Stiff back makes Johan Santana's next start questionable

Johan Santana stands on the mound in the

Johan Santana stands on the mound in the first inning after surrendering a two-run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. (July 20, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Johan Santana who was scheduled to start against Houston on Saturday, is questionable for that assignment because of a stiff back that will have him going for an MRI Tuesday. His season also could be in jeopardy.

Manager Terry Collins made the announcement after the Mets' 3-1 loss to the Rockies Monday night.

"Doctors examined him today and they want to take a look at his back," Collins said.

Earlier in the day, the Mets had held meetings to determine whether to shut down Santana for the rest of the season. The result was a decision to pitch Santana on Thursday on a reduced pitch count -- Collins said less than 100 -- and then evaluate him game-to-game to see how many more outings he would make in the season's final six weeks.

Now that plan appears to be out the window. Santana told team brass at about 6:30 p.m. about the stiffness, which apparently flared up before and after he threw a bullpen session. Santana said it has been present since he returned from the disabled list on Aug. 11.

"He came in stiffer today than he had been," Collins said. "They got him loosened up, he threw his 'pen, felt fine. When he was done, he got a little tight. He had the doctor look at him. The doctor felt they should take a look at it."

At about 5:45 p.m., before he was examined by the doctor, Santana said: "I threw my bullpen today, and I feel good."

Of his back, he said: "I just got it stiff a little bit. Like my first start back. But it's something that is just part of what we do. But I'm fine. It's just a little stiff, that's all."

Santana, 33, is 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA. He is 0-5, 15.63 in his last five starts and has an 8.27 ERA since his June 1 no-hitter.

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