Citing a hesitancy to meddle with Class A Savannah's championship series, Santana declared himself a healthy scratch from Thursday's Game 3 of the South Atlantic League's best-of-five title series. Rather than make a second rehab start for Savannah, Santana will throw a simulated game on Sunday before advancing to instructional league in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
"He doesn't ... want to interrupt what's going on in Savannah," manager Terry Collins said. "He doesn't know how ready he's going to be, and it could be the championship game, and he doesn't feel like that's his place."
If he feels up to it and believes it is necessary, Santana may pitch in Winter Ball in his native Venezuela following the stint in the instructional league. Whatever small chance he had to return to the Mets this season, however, has vanished.
"We were realistic enough to know that this was a day-by-day situation," Collins said, looking back on Santana's lost season. "There was nothing the doctors could promise us, ever."
Though initial estimates pegged Santana's return to the big leagues for June or July, various setbacks stalled his rehab throughout the summer. But the Mets remain confident that the two-time Cy Young Award winner will be fully healthy come Spring Training.
Santana, who was 11-9 with a 2.98 ERA in 29 starts last season prior to September surgery on his left shoulder, has two years and $55 million guaranteed on the six-year, $137.5 million contract he signed in 2008.