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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Tuesday was all about Johan Santana. The New York Mets' southpaw has been on the road to recovery from shoulder surgery for over a year. Santana underwent a repair for a torn left anterior capsule in September 2010. He was able to pitch in a couple minor league games in 2011 but never appeared in the majors. He threw in Instructional League in the fall before shutting it down for some offseason rest. Entering this spring, Santana has appeared on track, gradually increasing his workload and throwing bullpens in advance of Tuesday's outing. So far, the shoulder has responded positively, and this Grapefruit League outing was just another step in the right direction.
Santana saw two innings of action Tuesday, as planned. He threw 29 pitches, 17 for strikes. He gave up a hit and a walk, and his fastball hovered in the high 80s, topping out at 90 mph once. He mixed in a couple of changeups and even a couple of sliders, which Santana later said was something he "couldn't do in the past." He appeared upbeat after the game, speaking candidly with reporters, his left shoulder wrapped in ice under an ace bandage. "The most important thing," Santana said, "was I felt good." He didn't pay much attention to the radar gun readings, saying his focus was on mixing in various pitches and location.
Santana said the key over the next couple days will be to see how the shoulder feels and get ready to make his next start in five days. He noted that late last year in Instructional League he was able to return in the five-day window, so he doesn't anticipate any problems this time around. He acknowledged continuing to work on locating his pitches and says that is his "challenge" as he builds up his workload. Of course, the primary issue from the health perspective will be to see if increasing that workload remains uneventful.
Santana is the planned Opening Day starter for the Mets, and early signs point toward him meeting that target.