Mets push back Santana’s spring training debut by two weeks

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Port St. Lucie, FL, United States (4E Sports) – The New York Mets have delayed left-hander Johan Santana’s first spring training appearance by two weeks due to strength issue.

The Mets had lined up Santana’s first spring training appearance in the Grapefruit League March 2 but general manager Sandy Alderson said it was pushed back to March 10-15 range.

“There’s no structural issue,” Alderson said. “It’s just a matter of building up strength. So he’ll be long-tossing before he gets back on the mound. We expect that his schedule will have been delayed somewhat.”

Santana underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule at the end of the 2010 season and missed the following season.

He finished last season on the disabled list with lower-back inflammation and limited his throwing before arriving in camp.

“I haven’t gotten 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. “It takes time. That’s what we’re doing. It’s not a setback at all.”

Santana also said that there’s no burden on his part to get in shape quickly after he was named by manager Terry Collins as the Mets’ Opening Day starter if healthy.

“No, we still have a long way to go,” Santana said. “That’s the focus that we have right now — April. It’s not tomorrow or the next couple of days. That’s why we’ve got to make sure whatever we do is to build up all the way to April.”

Collins has outlined a plan to get Santana four spring training starts, all on an extra day of rest, to line the left-hander up for Opening Day.

The manager said Santana ideally would have outings of 45 pitches, 60, 75 and 90-95 pitches leading into the regular season.

Alderson said Santana remains on track to break camp with the team but he’s not discounting the possibility that he might start the season on the disabled list.

“Right now, we don’t think so, but it’s obviously a possibility,” Alderson said. “Right now we’re still shooting for the Opening Day.”

The Mets have right-handers Jenrry Mejia, Zack Wheeler and Jeremy Hefner to fill the rotation spot if Santana will be unavailable to open the season.

Santana is in the final guaranteed season of a six-year deal. He is due to make $25.5 million, plus another $5.5 million buyout of a 2014 vesting option.

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