Mets eyeing Grapefruit opener for Santana

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
12:46
PM ET

Brad Barr/US Presswire
Johan Santana throws his second bullpen session of spring training on Tuesday.
The Mets are eyeing the March 5 Grapefruit League opener against the Washington Nationals in Port St. Lucie for Johan Santana's return to game action.

Getting the nod for the first inning of exhibition play isn't any particular honor being bestowed upon Santana. Instead, it merely lines him up for working every fifth day, then pitching Opening Day on April 5 against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. (One extra day is worked into the schedule to allow for a rainout along the way.)

Santana threw his second bullpen session of spring training Tuesday. He resumed throwing off a mound after a winter hiatus.

Santana indicated he likely will throw batting practice once in camp before the game action.

"It's been a tough time, a lot of challenges out there," Santana said about his return from Sept. 14, 2010 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. "But this is part of the game. Injuries are part of the game. You battle, yourself, until you get back. And that's what I'm trying to do. I'm not trying to hurry anything. I'm just going to go one step at a time. If it's there, great. If it's not, I'll work my way up. That's what we're looking for."

As for Terry Collins saying he hoped Santana could contribute 25 to 28 starts this season, Santana said: "I'm approaching everything one day at a time. That would be great, if that happens. I think that's what we're looking for. But, again, I've got to get the first one out of the way and build my way up -- get my way up to 28, 30, whatever it is."

Santana insisted he actually feels better now than he did four or five years ago at this point in spring training.

"Let me tell you, I used to take extra bullpen sessions before I got into games, more than any of the other guys, in the past," Santana said. "I'm not talking about the last three -- I'm talking about four or five years ago. But working since mid-December, and mid-January getting into throwing, and then getting on the mound before spring training, that's a big difference. And that's what I did this year. So it's a totally different approach than what I had in the past."
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
10 3.88 106 141
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .295
HRL. Duda 19
RBIL. Duda 60
RD. Murphy 62
OPSL. Duda .864
ERAJ. Niese 3.23
SOZ. Wheeler 125