Pitchers play catch almost every day, casually tossing the ball back and forth with a partner in the outfield, and nobody really notices. But when Johan Santana played catch late Sunday afternoon here at Citi Field, it was a big deal.
Santana went under cover for his throwing session, into the bullpen and generally out of sight of reporters, and he was watched by pitching coach Dan Warthen and his manager, Terry Collins. Not long before Santana began, Collins promised that he would be hovering over Santana when he throws in the days ahead, because he intends to do everything he can to keep the left-hander healthy, in the aftermath of his 134-pitch no-hitter Friday -- the most pitches Santana has ever thrown in a game.
"When he throws today," Collins said, "he's going to feel like a freight train hit him."
Santana said afterward that he felt fine, and that the throwing session went well, but the Mets will continue to handle him with great care. Chris Young has been summoned to pitch Tuesday night, which buys an extra day of rest for Santana. Now, the current plan is for Santana to start Thursday, on five days' rest.
Collins' intention is to apply hard ceilings to Santana's pitch count in the starts to come, at about 90 pitches.