- Last Updated: 11:20 AM, June 3, 2012
- Posted: 3:08 AM, June 3, 2012
Terry Collins questioned himself before, during and after arguably his toughest decision ever as a manager.
The Mets manager was euphoric Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history, but still was not at peace letting his ace throw a career-high 134 pitches to do it — and that may lead to extra careful treatment going forward, including additional rest before his next start.
“I went against about everything I stand for,” Collins said yesterday. “I kind of felt that I had made the wrong move.”
Santana was making just his 11th start after missing more than a year because of a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. He is the highest-paid player in Mets history, in Year 5 of a six-year, $137.5 million contract.
“My whole thing was my heart told me to take him out due to the fact that I’m playing with a huge part of the organization,” Collins said. “If this guy goes down, it’d be pretty drastic.”
Collins reported Santana told him yesterday, “I am fine. I will be fine.”
Santana later told the media, “Today I feel fine.” But he admitted, “Definitely the next couple days are going to be important to see how I recover.”
Before yesterday’s 5-0 win over the Cardinals, Collins said the Mets are considering handing Santana additional rest before his next start, and The Post learned that Chris Young will be promoted to start Tuesday. That would give Santana at least one extra day, and the Mets might have Miguel Batista slot in Wednesday to make it two extra days. If so, Santana’s next start would be Friday against the Yankees.
Collins felt supported in his decision by the nearly unanimous response he received that he was right to let Santana complete the game. He said both general manager Sandy Alderson and COO Jeff Wilpon backed him and former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa called to say, “Look, you did the right thing.”
Of the 64 no-hitters thrown since 1988, just two were produced with more pitches than the 134 Santana delivered against the Cardinals on Friday. Former Diamondbacks right-hander Edwin Jackson threw the most with 149 on June 25, 2010.
Jackson, now with the Nationals, yesterday told The Post that the pitch count had no aftereffects.
“I felt the same,” he said. “I stayed on the program. I still went out and threw. I played the catch the next day.”
In the 16 starts Jackson made that season after the no-hitter, he had a lower ERA (4.31) than before (4.63).
“It was not an easy decision, but it was one I had complete confidence in,” then-Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch told The Post.
Hinch, though, admitted wondering what the reaction would have been had Jackson lost the no-hitter.
Cardinals lefty Bud Smith threw a 134-pitch no-hitter as a 21-year-old on Sept. 3, 2001, in his 13th career start. His pitching coach, Dave Duncan, told The Post he “probably would” let Smith do it again.
“It’s unfortunately probably the toughest thing you have to deal with in a game like that,” Duncan said. “You kind of get put into a situation where you don’t have any real alternative but to let him keep going. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event for most people you put into that position.
“You do think about it. You really worry about it. Especially I can imagine what [the Mets] were going through [Friday] night with the guy you want to be at the top of your rotation, number one, coming off physical problems.”
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona managed Jon Lester on May 19, 2008, when the lefty threw 130 pitches in just the 11th start of his first full season back after recovering from cancer.
“John Farrell, our pitching coach, said, ‘They’re gonna boo you when you go take him out.’ It wasn’t gonna be me,” Francona said. “Like Terry [Collins] said, there is really no decision.”Follow @NYPostsports