PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Johan Santana finally is coming back to Citi Field, for a May 31 ceremony celebrating the 10th anniversary of his no-hitter — also known as the feat for which his high-end career is best remembered by his middle school-aged son and his baseball teammates, whom Santana coaches.
For those adolescents who are too young to have any real memory of Santana’s playing days, it isn’t the two Cy Young Awards or the pitching triple crown in 2006 or the four All-Star teams that stand out. It is those 27 outs — the 134 pitches — on June 1, 2012, against the Cardinals, the first and still only no-hitter in Mets history.
Josh Thole, Santana’s catcher that night, also will be present and honored before the Mets’ game against the Nationals. Both players will be at Old-Timers’ Day on Aug. 27, too.
“It was a fun time and a memory I will never forget,” Santana said during a video call with reporters Monday. “Every time they talk about something, they talk about the no-hitter. That was one of the highlights of my career, no question about it.”
Said Thole: “It truly seems like it was yesterday. It will be a day that lives with me forever. That’s the only thing in my career that I do tend to talk about because it was something that was very special to me.”
The Mets invited Queens native Mike Baxter, whose collision with the leftfield wall while making a seventh-inning catch was the game’s signature defensive play, but he will be busy with Vanderbilt, where he’s the hitting coach.
Of the 9,478 games the Mets have played — 8,018 before that night and 1,459 since — that was the only occasion in which the opposing team went hitless.
That Santana’s no-hitter played out the way it did was as much a surprise to him as anyone. When he walked two in the first two innings (five on the night) and struggled with his command early, he hoped to make it through five or six innings.
“I never had a thought that I was going to throw a no-hitter that night. It just happened,” he said. “I didn’t have my best stuff that night. We all knew that. But I was able to manage through the whole thing.”
Another round of cuts Monday seemed to narrow the lefthanded reliever competition to two names: Chasen Shreve and Alex Claudio. Both are non-roster players and both could make the team if the Mets want to carry two lefties.
Another southpaw, Rob Zastryzny, was among 11 players sent to minor-league camp. Highlighting the others were top prospects Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty, outfielders Carlos Cortes and Jake Mangum, and infielder Matt Reynolds.
James McCann (back tightness) took several at-bats during an intrasquad scrimmage, the main event on a day when the Mets didn’t have an exhibition game. He is slated to play Tuesday against the Marlins . . . Trevor Williams, squeezed out of the crowded rotation but a candidate to be a long reliever, pitched three innings. Late-inning relievers Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo and Trevor May each tossed one frame.