Henderson Pitching Shows Collins Learned Nothing from Santana

After Johan Santana threw 134 pitches on a surgery repaired shoulder to throw the first no-hitter in Mets history, Terry Collins was in tears. He seemed distraught. In the post-game press conference, Collins called Santana his “Hero,” and he was prescient in saying:

I’m very excited for him, but in five days, if his arm is bothering him, I’m not going to feel good. 

As we know, even though Santana would make 10 more starts, his career effectively ended that night. He would need another shoulder surgery in the offseason. Between that surgery and other injuries, Santana has never pitched in another big league game. 

When Collins was interviewed by Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated three years later, Collins expressed his remorse. He would say, “It was without a doubt, the worst night I’ve ever spent in baseball.”  Now, no one really knows what effect this game had on the need for Santana to have a second surgery. However, for his part, Collins thinks the no-hitter had a lot to do with it:

I was aware of what the wear and tear of that night could do to him, and basically, the worst-case scenario happened. To throw that amount of pitches with that much pressure and that much adrenaline going, it can beat you down. And it did. 

If Collins truly believes that, it makes what he did with Jim Henderson all the more indefensible. 

Henderson has come a long way to get here.  He’s had two shoulder surgeries himself. He fought against all odds to make the Mets Opening Day roster.  Not only did he make the roster, he quickly established himself as a very important part of the Mets bullpen. 

So far this year, Henderson has pitched in five of the eight games the Mets have played. On Tuesday, he threw 34 pitches, which was the most he’s ever thrown in one game. Wednesday was a day game. The Mets added Rafael Montero to the roster so the Mets would have a full bullpen for the game. With the score tied 0-0 in the seventh inning, Collins put Henderson in the game. 

Before Wednesday’s game, Henderson’s fastball averaged 95 MPH. On Wednesday, he was sitting around 89 MPH. He allowed a single and two hits before Collins pulled him from a game he shouldn’t have entered in the first place. Collins excuse?

It’s difficult to believe that Collins used this as a justification.  He says he is troubled by Santana’s no-hitter, and he thinks it had a profound impact on effectively ending his career.  Why would he willingly do the same thing again with another player?  Why would he go to Henderson when there were other, fresher options?  It doesn’t make sense.

It should be noted that Collins had a different tone in Wednesday’s press conference than Santana’s. Collins was fired up. There was no hint of him fearing for Henderson’s future. 

Collins thought this was a must-win game, but it’s a stretch to believe he would sacrifice a player’s health for it.  Collins said he was desperate, but there has to be a line. Collins might’ve wanted to respond to people questioning the Mets effort, but putting a player’s health and career in doubt, you prove nothing. 

At the end of the day, Terry Collins has shown he has learned nothing.  While we all understood him leaving Santana in, there was no excuse for pitching Henderson there. Collins could’ve ended someone’s career for what really was just another April game. Overall, Mike Vaccarro put it best when he chastised Collins:

Collins has had some nice moments as the manager of the Mets. Wednesday wasn’t one of them.  Collins once called Santana’s no-hitter the worst night of his baseball life. Wednesday could’ve been the worst day of Henderson’s professional life, but Collins showed no remorse. Collins may be haunted by Santana’s no-hitter, but he has clearly showed he’s learned nothing from it. 

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsmerizedonline.com