Some bad news for Johan Santana

Some bad news for Johan Santana

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Johan Santana is done for the year, and to say he had an up-and-down season would be an understatement of Cy Young proportions. Explaining that their struggling ace is worn down from two years of rehabilitation and near-constant maintenance, the New York Mets placed Santana on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with inflammation in his lower back and said he is not expected to pitch again in 2012. Doctors recommended rest, but not surgery. "I wanted to keep pitching. I felt that I could pitch. But at the same time, I'm listening to them," Santana said. "They said that everything that I have done has been a lot. At some point I have to take some rest. At this point I think I agree with everything and we've just got to make sure we stay healthy and look forward to next year." The 33-year-old Santana missed last season following major shoulder surgery in September 2010 to repair a torn anterior capsule. He got off to a strong start this year and pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history June 1 against St. Louis. But he threw a career-high 134 pitches in that game and is 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA since. "I don't have any second thoughts about the way it was handled," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "This has not been a shoulder issue. So from that standpoint, I just don't see a direct correlation." The tailspin got ugly after Chicago Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson stepped on Santana's foot on a play at first base July 6. Beginning with that outing, Santana went 0-5 with a 15.63 ERA in his final five appearances -- becoming the first Mets pitcher to give up at least six runs in five consecutive starts. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner was 6-4 with a 2.76 ERA through June but ended up 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA. He threw 117 innings in 21 starts. "At this point I'm very confident he'll be back next season and ready to go and hopefully in a stronger position than he was coming into this year," Alderson said. "If you look back at the season and what we reasonably could have expected at the beginning of the year, he's actually accomplished quite a lot. I think as we got close to midseason we recognized that, who knows how long Johan can go? "I can't sit here and say this is a shock or even a surprise. It's disappointing, but that's the nature of things," the GM added. "I don't believe that fewer innings would have preserved Johan. ... I don't think he was overused. There were times when he had extra rest." A few weeks after Johnson stepped on his foot, Santana was placed on the DL with a sprained right ankle. He was sidelined for three weeks, a stint that was also intended to recharge his surgically repaired shoulder. But in his first game back, Santana lasted only 1 1-3 innings against Atlanta -- the worst start of his career. He said Wednesday that he's been feeling tightness in his back for a couple of weeks, but it really stiffened up on him in his most recent outing last Friday at Washington. "The work he did to try to command stuff, the absolute effort he had to put in to make each pitch, wore him down. And so, that was obvious. And you just knew that some adjustments had to be made," manager Terry Collins said. "I think the rest is the perfect medicine for him right now." Santana had an MRI on Tuesday that revealed the inflammation and the left-hander was prescribed rest, medication and intermittent exercise. "There is no issue with his ankle, no issue with his shoulder," Alderson said. "Obviously, with a back problem and continuing to pitch, that itself could lead to problems with the shoulder or the ankle or an elbow, and that's another reason why we're trying to be cautious about this." Santana was placed on the DL retroactive to Saturday and New York will bring up right-hander Collin McHugh from the minors to start in his place Thursday against Colorado. So now, Santana will look toward 2013, the final guaranteed season of his 137.5 million, six-year contract. "I'm very positive that everything's going to be fine," he said. "It's too bad that I have to go down like this, but it's part of the game." The slumping Mets began the night 57-66. Santana said he will stay with the team through the end of the current homestand but after that, he's not sure. Alderson said he thinks Santana will want to head home to Florida to rest and then begin his offseason program. "He's healthy. All right, he's got a tweak in his back. With rest and his exercises, it'll go away. There's no reason to expect that next spring we don't have anything but probably the best condition he'll be in in a long time, with some rest and recuperation," Collins said. "He's looking at the season as a positive. I think we're in a good spot going into the winter. "It's time for a rest. But, when that rest is up, that rest is going to be over next February. And it's time to get after it." The Mets had recently committed to a six-man rotation with the intention of giving Santana and Chris Young extra rest, but Collins said they might go back to a five-man cycle now. The 25-year-old McHugh hopes to have his wife and parents in attendance for his big league debut Thursday. "It'll be fun," he said. NOTES: Alderson said OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, demoted to Triple-A Buffalo on July 29, is expected to miss the rest of the season with a partially torn plantar fascia.

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Prospect report: Two Caps prospects earn invites to international tournaments

Prospect report: Two Caps prospects earn invites to international tournaments

Hershey update: 1-2-2-0, 6th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-0-2-0

The Hershey Bears earned their first win of the season and took points from all three of their games this week. Defenseman Colby Williams also registered his first career professional point with an assist in Hershey’s win over Bridgeport on Saturday.

Defenseman Madison Bowey continues to standout on both ends of the ice with a goal and an assist, but there remain aspects of his game in which he needs to improve.

Check out Bowey’s highlights from the team’s loss to Hartford on Wednesday:

Though he may not have registered any points, Bowey’s stickhandling talent is on full display. He also made a great play defensively as he swept a puck off the goal line behind Joe Cannata in the first period.

What you can also see, however, is that Bowey is prone to making some horrible turnovers. This can happen when players in the minors get overconfident. There’s no question whether Bowey will make it to the NHL, the only question is when. He’s clearly one of the most talented players on the roster in Hershey. Sometimes, players can reach a point in their development in which they become overconfident in their talent and it leads to sloppy mistakes.

Speaking of which, forward Jakub Vrana was a surprise healthy scratch for Hershey’s game Sunday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Vrana had a disappointing preseason with the Caps and showed that he needed to work on his puck distribution. He has two goals already this season, but his development bears watching.

Goalie Vitek Vanecek appears to be adjusting well to the AHL game. On Sunday in only his third career AHL start, Vanecek turned aside 33 of the 35 shots he faced. The only goals came on a deflection and on a penalty shot in overtime. You can see his highlights from the game here:

This game also featured Nathan Walker’s first goal of the season. The young Aussie plays a very physical style which, given his size, would make you believe he has very little chance of ever making the NHL. Yet, he showed he could go toe-to-toe with NHL players in the preseason and goals like the one he scored Sunday provide further proof that he will not get pushed around should the Caps ever have need of his services.

For an inside look at what it’s like to play for Hershey, check out this piece on Chocolate Hockey written by Caps prospect and Bears captain Garrett Mitchell.


Other prospect notes:

Goalie Ilya Samsonov has had an impressive start to the season in the KHL registering a 2.26 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. His performance has earned him a spot on Team Russia’s roster as announced Wednesday for the U20 Four-Nation Tournament held in Gothenburg, Sweden. The tournament will take place Nov. 4-6.

Another Caps prospect will participate in an international tournament as defenseman Connor Hobbs will play for Team WHL in the CIBC Canada Russia Series.

The Canada Russia Series is an annual tournament in which Russian junior players play teams composed of players from each of the three junior leagues of the Canadian Hockey League (WHL, OHL and QMJHL). The series will consist of six games with each Canadian league playing two games. Team WHL will play on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8.

Adam Carlson played in his first professional game on Tuesday as he started for the South Carolina Stingrays in a game against the Wichita Thunder. The Stingrays lost, but Carlson played well with 26 saves on 28 shots (the third goal was an empty-netter).

North Dakota is ranked No. 1 among college teams in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine college hockey poll and Caps prospect Shane Gersich is a major reason why. In their two wins this week, Gersich scored one goal and three assists.

Check out the highlights from North Dakota’s win over Bemidji State on Saturday in which Gersich registered three points.

Chase Priskie of Quinnipiac was the recipient of a dangerous hit last week that left him bleeding from a gash in his forehead. He did not play in either of his team’s games last week and his status still remains unclear.


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Dwight Howard: Getting John Wall off ball could take him to new level

Dwight Howard: Getting John Wall off ball could take him to new level

ATLANTA – In Dwight Howard’s 12 years in the NBA, with four different teams, the game plan to stop John Wall has been a basic one: Load up.

In Wall’s first six seasons, he has carried the offense a disproportionate amount of the time, even for a point guard. Teams will use extra defenders, usually a big who is supporting from underneath the basket, in an attempt to contain him in the half court. They will put an extra emphasis on getting back on defense to keep Wall out of transition, sending one fewer player to the offensive glass to compensate.

Wall welcomes the adjustments from coach Scott Brooks that will allow him to roam and exploit the defense from the weakside of the floor -- and play to the strengths of backcourt mate Bradley Beal. It also should give Wall better looks for threes from the corner, which are the higher-percentage shots on the arc. Beal can create more for others and get to the rim rather than being a one-dimensional threat from outside. 

It's not uncommon for teams at this point to have focused mostly on themselves in the preseason and not the opponent. But when told how the Wizards are trying to use Wall, Howard endorses what it could do for the three-time All-Star.

“It’s going to make him a better player. He’s been ball dominant since he’s been in the league,” said Howard, who is in his first season with Atlanta. “He’s always made plays for other people but now with him moving around his speed and quickness, he’ll be able to get easier buckets.”

[RELATED: No love lost for Wizards with new-look Hawks]