Is one of the game's most dominant pitchers of his generation attempting another comeback? Johan Santana, the two-time Cy Young Award winner whose career was derailed by significant shoulder injuries, alluded he'd like to make another run at pitching, but he kept his expectations tempered."What I would like to do
Is one of the game's most dominant pitchers of his generation attempting another comeback? Johan Santana, the two-time Cy Young Award winner whose career was derailed by significant shoulder injuries, alluded he'd like to make another run at pitching, but he kept his expectations tempered.
"What I would like to do is retire on my own terms," Santana said in a Tuesday interview with MLB Network. "I would like to know when would that last pitch be and to throw it. I don't want to be remembered as someone who got hurt, because that's how people look at me. I don't want to look at it that way.
"I think I played the game the right way and at the highest level that was possible. I was always asking for more of myself. I was trying to compete regardless of the scenario that I had. So that's all I want. I've been trying and trying. It hasn't worked out the way I would love to. But if, you know -- if this is the end of it, I'd be more than happy to hang my glove. But as of right now, I'm still trying to give a little opportunity to try and come back."
Santana, who pitched a 12-year career with the Twins and Mets, was derailed by a torn shoulder capsule ahead of the 2013 season and attempted comebacks in the subsequent years on Minor League contracts, with the Orioles in '14 and the Blue Jays in '15, though he never reached the mound in a professional game again. He also attempted a mid-year comeback in '16, but he did not sign a deal with any club.
"If I feel that I can compete and I feel that I can help, I'll definitely make myself available," Santana said. "We'll let everybody know. But as of right now, I'm just going to leave with what I have right now."
In the midst of his dominant run, Santana was sidelined for parts of three straight seasons due to shoulder injuries, including his entire age-32 season in 2011. When he returned the next year, just 11 starts in, Santana threw the only no-hitter in Mets history on June 1 against the Cardinals.
Santana needed 134 pitches to accomplish the feat -- tied for the fifth most in a no-hitter since at least 1913 -- which prompted a backlash given his previous health history and his immediate decline after. Santana made just 10 MLB starts following his no-hitter, going 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA.
"A lot of people blame the no-hitter on being the end of my career, but I don't look at it that way," Santana said, "because your career can end up in one pitch in the beginning of your career or 10 years later or 20 years later."
Known for his elite left-handed deception that has drawn historical comparisons to Sandy Koufax, Santana is on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this year, and he is battling the five percent cutoff to be included next year. He is one of just 23 pitchers in the Modern Era to notch a pitching Triple Crown, having led the American League in wins, strikeouts and ERA in 2006 with Minnesota.
On Friday, it was announced Santana -- who joined Minnesota in 2000 and proved to be one of the best Rule 5 success stories in history -- had been elected to the Twins Hall of Fame.
"It's an honor for me," Santana said. "I'm very happy about being inducted to the [Twins] Hall of Fame. It's definitely a new thing for me, but I'm looking forward to enjoying it up in Minneapolis."
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.