PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As the sting of Johan Santana's potential career-ending injury lingered in the clubhouse on Friday morning, Mets captain David Wright used words that captured the scene: disheartening, shocking, sad. Just as others did in the clubhouse, Wright walked a thin line, trying to speak of Santana in present terms as opposed to the past.
They took care to mind the difference between celebrating Santana's accomplishments without eulogizing his brilliant career.
"I'd bet on him if, he decides that's the way he wants to go," Wright said of Santana, who must decide whether he will undergo a second surgery to repair the torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.
Wright, who spoke with Santana on Thursday night, described the pitcher as being "in a bit of shock."
Said Wright: "I don't think anybody was expecting this."
Few have undergone the surgery that Santana has already endured once before.
Mets lefty Tim Byrdak is still in the process of recovering from the procedure last September. He spent a month without the use of his left arm. Simple tasks such as putting on a shirt became arduous challenges. As did getting a full night's sleep, due to the discomfort that followed surgery. Asked if he'd endure the surgery a second time, Byrdak said he'd consider it, though only as an effort to improve his quality of life as opposed to a means to extend his pitching career.
Said Byrdak: "To go through it a second time, it could actually be harder because you know what's ahead. The first time you go through it, it's kind of a mystery, so you're not really knowing what to expect. The second time you know kind of your checkpoints coming up here, this is where we're at. Knowing the end result, how far away it is, is really rough."
Plenty of questions remain regarding Santana's progression this spring, when both he and the team termed his early shoulder struggles a matter of fatigue, all the while insisting that his shoulder was structurally sound.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen couldn't pinpoint exactly when Santana began complaining of pain.
"He comes in and I knew he hadn't thrown a whole lot, hadn't worked out a whole lot, you thought alright, this is going to take longer than what a normal spring training would be," Warthen said. "But as it continued on, yeah, it became a little bit more of a concern."
As general manager Sandy Alderson said on Thursday, when he announced the news via a conference call, it may never be possible to know conclusively exactly when Santana suffered the tear that may slam the door on his career. However, Warthen shot down one theory about the pitcher's downfall being related to the career-high 134 pitches on June.
That was the night that he no-hit the Cardinals, the first in the history of the Mets.
"This was not a product or a byproduct of the no-hitter, at least, I don't feel it was in any way shape or form because he had good velocity and arm strength after that," Warthen said. "And it doesn't matter because he would have never let us get him out of the game anyway."