Gardenhire salutes Santana's gem

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 3, 2012 - 10:42 AM
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Johan Santana struck out St. Louis’ David Freese for the final out in the first no-hitter in Mets history.

Photo: Kathy Kmonicek, Associated Press

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CLEVELAND - Twins manager Ron Gardenhire caught the tail end of Johan Santana's no-hitter on television Friday night.

"It was pretty cool," Gardenhire said. "I tried to text him, but the son of a gun changed his number. I tried to text him to say, 'Congratulations. Believe it!' "

That was Santana's signature phrase when he pitched for the Twins from 2000 to 2007. He won two Cy Young Awards for Minnesota but the closest he came to a no-hitter was his combined one-hitter with Joe Nathan on July 17, 2004 at Kansas City.

Mets manager Terry Collins took a chance, letting Santana throw 134 pitches in the no-hitter against the Cardinals, especially since the lefthander is coming off major shoulder surgery.

"I was nervous with him being out there with that many pitches because I know Johan," Gardenhire said. "We knew his limits when we had him."

Santana never threw more than 120 pitches for the Twins. Gardenhire's biggest dilemma came Aug. 19, 2007, when Santana racked up 17 strikeouts in the first eight innings against Texas. He was three strikeouts from tying the major league record, but his pitch count was at 112, and pitching coach Rick Anderson wanted to play it safe.

Gardenhire was torn, but Santana simplified things for everybody as he walked toward the dugout, doffing his cap to the crowd.

"I was like, 'Thank you, Jesus! He just took himself out.' We didn't want to run him out there to 125-130 pitches. That's just not Johan. He never responded well to that," Gardenhire said. "His next outing would be down, and it was just a fact, he just wasn't the same. We'd keep him around 100 [pitches], and he was great with it. We knew we were protecting him. But that was a special moment [Friday]."

Pavano update

Carl Pavano will return to Minnesota on Sunday to have his shoulder examined by Dr. Dan Buss.

They will do another magnetic resonance imaging exam early next week and compare it to the one Pavano had last month.

Pavano's next scheduled start would be Wednesday at Kansas City, but the Twins are waiting to adjust their pitching plans until they get the results of the MRI.

At that point, they will make a plan with Pavano, who has been dealing with weakness and soreness in the shoulder all season.

"I definitely think it's to the point where it's affecting me," Pavano said. "But I feel like it would have got a lot worse if it was something that's going to require surgery or going to be career-threatening."

Pavano believes he has weakness in his rotator cuff, which is causing an impingement on the front side of the shoulder.

The remedy for that is rest and gradually strengthening the shoulder.

It could take several weeks before he resumes throwing and then more time to rebuild his pitch count.

Pavano, 36, dealt with several injuries with the Yankees, but he hasn't been on the disabled list since 2008.

He surpassed the 220-inning mark the past two years and has thrown 23 more innings than any other Twins pitcher this year, but he is 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA.

"I feel like I'm letting down my teammates pretty bad here," he said. "Even though I've been out there on the mound, I'm not competing the way I should be. I'm being pretty aggressive, but I'm not fooling anyone, and I'm certainly not fooling myself."

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