"I was pitching with it more than a month ago," Santana said. "You have to know the difference between pain and soreness, and believe me, I know the difference between those two things."
And so, despite Santana enduring the worst outing of his career Sunday, despite an inquisition into the state of his health and despite former pitching coach Rick Peterson's public assertion that the southpaw's left knee is at the core of his problems, Santana spent Tuesday afternoon defusing the panic that has descended around him.
"It's just one game," Santana said. "And I can tell you guys I'm not going to let one game change my whole season or change the way I do my thing. That's not me. It's just one game. We'll learn from it, but we're going to put that in the past and move on."
Much of the contention surrounding Santana stemmed from comments Peterson made Monday to 1050 ESPN radio in New York. Peterson said he had heard "a rumor" that Santana's surgically repaired left knee is bothering him to the point of affecting his pitching.
"How did he know that my knee hurts?" Santana said, debunking that theory. "The reality is, he's not here. I'm the one who feels my body better than anybody. My knee doesn't hurt, and I don't know where he got that one from. I'm being honest and realistic. My knee is the last issue here. We took care of that last year, and it has nothing to do with what's going on right now."
What's going on is possibly the worst stretch of Santana's life. He allowed a career-high nine earned runs in Sunday's 15-0 loss to the Yankees and has posted a 6.50 ERA over his past six starts.
Afterward, Santana admitted that he felt knee discomfort earlier this year and has suffered from the blister and a split nail on his left middle finger. But Santana also insisted that none of that has had any effect on his recent performance.
"I think Johan is just like anybody else, going through a little period of struggles," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "It happens to everybody at some point in time, and he'll overcome it just like he's always done."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.