Santana exhibition debut pushed back to mid-March
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Johan Santana's first spring training appearance of the year for the New York Mets has been pushed back until mid-March.
The left-hander does not have any structural damage in his throwing shoulder, but needs more time to build up strength.
"I haven't been on the mound for a while, so it takes time to get everything adjusted again and to get in that pitching mode again," Santana said Friday. "It takes time. It's not a setback at all. It just needs time to build up."
General manager Sandy Alderson said the 33-year old left-hander is expected to pitch in an exhibition game sometime from March 10-12 instead of March 2. Mets manager Terry Collins said he would like to see Santana make four exhibition starts, increasing his pitch count from 45 to 95 pitches in his spring training finale ahead of New York's April 1 opener against San Diego.
"I'm not concerned about it," Collins said. "We have some tentative dates in mind for when he can throw."
After watching Santana throw this week, Collins said he immediately knew that Santana didn't have the arm speed or feel for his pitches that he did at this time last year.
"As we started getting everything ready for the games, it's just going to take a little time," Santana said. "I feel fine, but I've just got to build up my strength in my shoulder and do a little more — play catch and throw long toss to be able to go on the mound.
"To have the games right away and be ready for games, it's going to take longer. We're not trying to rush anything. We're just going to go one step at a time and just wait until the arm feels good and the shoulder feels good in order to go into games."
Alderson said he didn't think Santana will miss the start of the regular season, but said it was a possibility.
"There's no structural issue," Alderson said. "He'll be long-tossing before he gets back on the mound. We expect that his schedule will have been delayed somewhat."
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