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MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JULY 24:  Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets warms up before a throwing session in the pullpen before the start of a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on July 24, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images) It's still gonna be a while.

johan santana

So Johan Santana Likely Won’t Return This Year

The Mets lost in an absolutely brutal fashion last night, with Jason Isringhausen blowing a save and Justin Turner making a horrific throwing error. It was the type of game that's painful to even think about, let alone recap, so we'll let it go by just saying, "the Mets are back at .500 again." On this date last year, they were a game over. But anyway. Let's move on to other Mets news, happier news, like the return of ... aw, man!

Somewhat quietly, Johan Santana, who remains the highest-paid Met (saving Jason Bay from that ignominious distinction), has been rehabbing himself to return at the end of this season. He hasn't pitched since September 2 — a game he won and pitched well in, by the way — but was trying to work his way back and even threw three scoreless innings for Class A St. Lucie last Thursday. But then Sandy Alderson said his schedule would be set back a day, and with the Mets, that's always a bad sign.

Santana is skipping his next rehab start, and it'd be pretty stunning to see him in Flushing this year at all.

"It was a day-by-day proposition to see how he came back after his original three innings," Alderson said. "He has less confidence than he might have had, so I think it's prudent to have it checked out and it'll either be reassuring or, you know, we'll step back and see where we are."

This is another time to feel fortunate that Alderson is in charge: He says it doesn't really matter if Santana has a setback, since this is all about next year anyway.

"I've already said that as far as 2011 is concerned, we're not looking for him to contribute to a pennant race, so we will view September as part of his overall recovery from this surgery. If he's able to pitch, great. If not, we'll work that into his offseason schedule and spring training."

That's what you want to hear: This is a setback, but not a real one. Next year is when you want Santana back, and what he does now doesn't matter, as long as he doesn't make any injury worse. Santana is signed for two more seasons — with a $25 million (!) team option for 2014, with a $5.5 million buyout— and the Mets will pay him $49.5 million over those two years. So who cares about the next two months? The Mets have already wasted $22.5 million on Santana this season. No reason to put the next two years' investment in any jeopardy either.

At the very least: Santana's rehab allowed Mets fans to remember that he was, indeed, still on the roster.

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Photo: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images