NEW YORK -- Johan Santana will make his first start on Saturday since he landed on the disabled list on July 21, but manager Terry Collins has already started looking a little bit further ahead.
How Santana would fare in 2012 with a rebuilt shoulder was a mystery entering the season, and his offseason schedule proved it -- Santana began preparing for his comeback in December. But since throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history on June 1 against the Cardinals, Santana is 3-5 with a 6.54 ERA in eight starts.
"He spent a lot on that night, especially as it went deeper in the game," Collins said. "The adrenaline factor, certainly the energy rush that he got from the crowd. It takes a while to get out of it, and when you're in his shoes where we're trying to monitor the whole program that he's on already, I think it took a lot out of him."
Santana has repeatedly stressed that the no-hitter is well behind him and has not impacted his performances, but the statistics don't help his case. His recent stint on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle provided him with a good chunk of rest, but Collins said he will still closely monitor Santana to ensure he goes into the offseason healthy.
"I certainly think the rest helped him," Collins said. "They tell me the other day in Brooklyn, he hit 90 [mph]. He hadn't hit 90 in a while. I think the rest has been good for him, and hopefully going forward in the next six weeks, we'll see the Johan Santana that we saw in the first few weeks."
Santana did hit 90 on the gun in Sunday's rehab start with the Class A Cyclones, but his pitch count also hit 90. He tossed three shutout innings followed by three simulated innings in the bullpen to increase his total to 90 pitches -- a limit Collins said he will try to adhere to for the remainder of the season.
As far as the offseason is concerned, Collins said he thinks Santana will be able to begin throwing when pitchers and catchers report in February.
"It allows him to have a couple months to rest things up," Collins said. "And again, next summer we may have to shut it down for a little while just to get him a blow. But I certainly think going into next year, he'll be in much better shape."