Not so long ago, Johan Santana was one of the best pitchers in baseball, signing a $137.5 million contract with the Mets.
Not so long ago, Santana threw a no-hitter in 2012.
But those memories of the left-hander with one of the best sliders in the game are long gone.
It wasn't certain that Santana would ever fully recover from the left shoulder surgery that has kept him away from the game for more than 18 months. Now, he'll be gone even longer.
Santana has torn his Achilles' tendon, an injury that occured during an extended spring training game in Sarasota, Fla., and he won't pitch again this season.
"The rehab is significant for these tendon injuries," Orioles executive vice-president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told MLB.com. "He won't be able to pitch for the Orioles this season."
The injury puts everything back into question for Santana because, at 35, his best years are certainly behind him. Santana doesn't want to call it a career, but that might be something he'll have to consider.
After all, it was a huge chance for the Orioles to even sign him this offseason with the rehab road he already faced.
"Asked agent Peter Greenberg if he thinks Johan Santana's career is in jeopardy. 'No. Not with this guy,'" reporter Chris Cotillo tweeted.
While this brings into question his durability, for sure, Duquette seemed confident that Santana's shoulder was recovering. The team had even discussed moving to a six-man rotation when Santana was ready.
"He had his velocity back and was able to back door his slider," Duquette told MLB.com.
That slider and velocity, as Duquette knows, are essential for him. This news came just a few days after the Orioles purchased his minor league contract and placed Santana on the major league disabled list.
That move was in preparation for having Santana available to return at some point soon, after a few more rehab steps. Now, he'll be stuck at 139 career wins with a 3.20 ERA with one 20-win season, in 2004 with the Minnesota Twins.
Santana has made just 21 starts (all in 2012, when he held a 4.85 ERA) since 2010, meaning it's been a good long while since he's shown even a flicker of being the Santana of old. The dominant pitcher, the one who could throw a slider like few else that even fewer could hit.
Now, those are just memories.
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