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PITTSBURGH -- New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana stopped throwing off a mound 10 days ago after "soreness" in his surgically repaired left shoulder surfaced when he increased the intensity of his delivery, general manager Sandy Alderson said Monday.
Alderson said Santana has resumed long-tossing on flat ground and hoped to return to a mound later this week.
Santana is working back from Sept. 14 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.
Alderson said the Mets will be prudent with Santana this season. After all, the left-hander is owed $24 million next season and $25.5 million in 2013. The Mets have a $25 million team option for 2014 that otherwise requires a $5.5 million buyout.
"The nice thing is, as we speak today, our starting rotation is doing nicely," Alderson said. "In that sense the pressure to get him back earlier doesn't exist. Tomorrow, that could change completely. But, I think the other thing is, we're looking at Johan long term here, not short term. So he's got to be right."
Alderson did not pinpoint a timetable for Santana's return to the majors under the assumption the left-hander can progress smoothly from the June 3 setback with no other hiccups. But Alderson did note that Santana has not yet started what would be considered the beginning of the spring training program that pitchers begin in mid-February to prepare for Opening Day.
"We are now trying to get him to the point at which he would be beginning his spring training," Alderson said. "The thought process now is that we need to get him to the point where he would have been on the 14th of February. And from that point he will proceed with his spring training, which could last as long as spring training typically does. ... Once he's thrown off the mound (again), he needs to do it more than once without discomfort in order for us to feel that, OK, we're at Feb. 14."
Manager Terry Collins said: "I've talked to Johan. To be honest, he'll decide. We can put whatever plan we want. Ultimately, when he feels right, he'll pitch. We can only hope that it comes, and he comes in July maybe, or August or September. But we hope he comes back. And if not, if he's ready next spring, we're going into spring training with a pretty good pitcher on our team."Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.