For one of his final public acts in 2012, Johan Santana puffed out his chest and turned down a quiet hallway off the side of the Mets clubhouse. A cluster of reporters awaited his arrival. "Where am I going?" Santana asked the group.

The immediate answer is back to the disabled list, where a case of lower back inflammation brings a merciful end to a season careening toward disaster. The long-term answer to Santana's question remained hazy Wednesday. The Mets still owe him $31 million for 2013. They insisted he would be healthy at the season's outset.

Doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery told the team he would not require surgery. No further tests were taken, general manager Sandy Alderson said. His surgically repaired shoulder is considered healthy, as is his ankle, which was sprained in July and required a trip to the disabled list.