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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Andrew Shaw suspended for boarding Capitals prospect Connor Hobbs

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USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Shaw suspended for boarding Capitals prospect Connor Hobbs

Montreal’s Andrew Shaw has been suspended three preseason games for boarding Washington’s Connor Hobbs on Tuesday night.

On the play, Shaw delivered a hard body check to Hobbs’ back, driving the Capitals prospect face-first into the end boards. It appeared that Shaw was angry about being slew-footed by Jay Beagle earlier on the same shift.

In the explanation video from NHL Department of Player Safety, director Patrick Burke said it was a dangerous hit that never should have been made.

RELATED: Was that the Capitals' opening night roster?

“It is important to note that Hobbs is never eligible to be checked by Shaw on this play,” Burke said. “From the moment Shaw arrives at the faceoff dot, he sees nothing but Hobbs' numbers. Hobbs makes no sudden movement just prior to contact that turns this hit from a legal hit into an illegal one.”

Burke added: “The onus is on Shaw to make sure he can deliver this hit in a legal fashion, minimize the force or avoid this hit completely. Instead, he hits forcefully through Hobbs from behind, driving him dangerously into the glass.”

Burke also noted the fact that Hobbs escaped injury and Shaw’s one previous suspension as factors in his ruling.

Shaw was assessed a total of 30 minutes in penalties (five for boarding, five for fighting, a 10-minute misconduct and a 10-minute game misconduct) for the hit and ensuing fight with Nathan Walker, who immediately confronted the noted agitator. 

Capitals associate coach Todd Reirden said before the suspension was handed down that it was exactly the type of hit the NHL is trying to eliminate.

“It’s a dangerous, dangerous play,” Reirden said. “Obviously, they are trying to take that type of stuff out of the game. The league will deal with it accordingly. Luckily, Connor seems to be fine and everything checked out so he was able to return to the game. Which is really good because he’s a real high prospect for us here moving forward.”

MORE CAPITALS: Samsonov to stay in KHL until 2018

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Duke Ihenacho: Obviously I want to be playing but it's the coach's decision

Duke Ihenacho: Obviously I want to be playing but it's the coach's decision

When Duke Ihenacho landed on the Redskins inactive report Week 1 against Pittsburgh, many around the league were surprised. That surprise waned as the season progressed. Weeks 2 and 3 Ihenacho was active, yet hardly played. 

Now injuries to DeAngelo Hall and Bashaud Breeland are forcing the Redskins to shake up their secondary, though it remains unclear if that means more defensive snaps for Ihenacho. Asked if Hall's torn ACL means Ihenacho will hit the field more on defense, Redskins coach Jay Gruden sounded non-commital.

"Could be," the coach said. "We're gonna dress four safeties most likely and they'll all probably get an opportunity."

MORE REDSKINS: NO HEALTH CONCERNS FOR DAVID BRUTON

The Redskins will start Will Blackmon and David Bruton at free and strong safety, leaving Ihenacho third on the depth chart and Deshazor Everett fourth. This week in practice, Ihenacho said his workload has increased, albeit slightly.

"I'm getting a little bit more reps at practice," Ihenacho said. "I'm really backing up both the guys. I know both positions."

For the bulk of his career, Ihenacho has dealt with injuries. In five seasons, he only has 15 starts, though his lone healthy season came in Denver in 2013. That Broncos team made it to the Super Bowl with Ihenacho at strong safety, and the five-year veteran out of San Jose State produced. In 14 starts that year, he logged 67 tackles to go with nine passes defensed and three forced fumbles.

Ihenacho has not stayed healthy in his two seasons in Washington, but he is healthy now. Asked why he isn't seeing the field more, the safety was unsure.

"Obviously I want to be out there but I'm not a coach so I just kinda got to deal with the cards that are dealt," he said. "Obviously I want to be out there, I'd like to be out there, I feel I should have been out there."

While Hall was healthy, the Redskins began to substitute Blackmon in for Bruton on longer third downs against the Giants, a nod to Blackmon's coverage skills. With Hall injured, that substitution pattern did not continue. Some fans and media have questioned if there is an issue or injury causing Ihenacho to stay on the bench.

"None of that. I haven't had any off the field issues, haven't had any injury issues. I know the defense, it's not a matter of me not knowing the playbook or anything like that. It's not a matter of me being inexperienced. It's not a matter of the coaches not trusting me."

Like any player, it's natural for Ihenacho to want to be on the field, but he understands what his role is for now.

"I feel like this is a situation where [the coaches] got guys they want to play. That's just what it is. Sometimes it's just as simple as that. They got other guys they just want to give shots to, and that's cool. Obviously I want to be out there but that's part of being a professional, understanding that and just waiting for your time."

Despite not seeing much action on defense, Ihenacho made his presence felt in the win against the Giants. On a long Jamison Crowder punt return, Ihenacho laid out two New York defenders with one block.

"The opportunity presented itself," he said. "I looped back around and I saw Crowder break a lot of tackles and make a couple guys miss. He brought it back around and my eyes kind of lit up when I hit the first guy and then at the last second I see the second guy and I just threw my body into him and it kinda just worked out."

When the team watched the game film, Ihenacho said the whole room had the same reaction to his block.

"It's like 'oooooooooh.' It was cool."