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Thursday, January 12, 2012
Johan Santana aims for Opening Day

By Adam Rubin
ESPNNewYork.com

New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana, who missed the entire 2011 season recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, hopes to be ready for Opening Day but is making no assurances.

Santana threw on flat ground from a distance of 90 feet Thursday at the Mets' spring-training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., as he works back from Sept. 14, 2010 surgery. He had made a handful of rehab starts at the end of last season before being shut down for the winter to allow his body to recuperate.

The Mets originally had projected Santana would return near last year's All-Star break, but he never made a major league appearance in 2011.

"Time will tell," Santana said. "As of right now, I'm going to follow everything the way they want me to do, and we'll see how it feels. I cannot tell you what's going to happen five, six weeks from now, because I'd be lying to you. I have to go one day at a time. That's the way we have done things from last year. That's how we're going to do it this year as well. And we'll see by the time spring training and the regular season comes -- are we ready to go?

"It's going to be tough for me to guess because I don't know how I'm going to feel in two months."

Santana resumed throwing about three weeks ago. He said he hopes to be on a bullpen mound along with other Mets pitchers on Feb. 22, the first day of workouts.

"That's what I'm looking forward to," he said. "That's why we're here right here -- to prepare for that. But, again, I don't want to set any time frame or anything because I don't really know until we get there."

Santana said he feels good right now.

"It feels fine. Everything is fine," Santana said. "I just have to get to pitching and competing and do all the stuff that we normally do on a regular basis. That's what will let me know how I feel."

Santana is owed $24 million this season. He is due to make $25.5 million in 2013, with a vesting option for 2014 or a $5.5 million buyout.

He made two official rehab appearances with the Class A St. Lucie Mets last season -- on July 28, then again after a shutdown period on Sept. 3. Santana then worked out in Fort Myers, Fla., with the Mets' instructional league team and appeared in at least one simulated game there.

Team officials said his fastball velocity hit 90 mph in his first couple of appearances against minor leaguers, and settled in at 86 mph to 88 mph after that -- potentially affecting the effectiveness of his signature changeup.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen has said pitchers have erratic velocity as they return from shoulder surgeries.

"At the end of my rehab last year I felt good, but I also knew -- and the doctors told me -- rest was part of my rehab and I have to shut everything down," Santana said. "Now we have to start all over again and see where we're at.

"Right at the end of my [2011] rehab [starts], I felt good. And it's just a matter of time and repetitions and doing it, doing it and doing it again -- over and over -- to see if the velocity is there. I don't know where my velocity is right now. I'd be lying to you if I said a number right now. That's why we have to go through spring training and see how it goes until the season starts."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.