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Sunday, February 17, 2013
Johan Santana tosses from mound

By Adam Rubin
ESPNNewYork.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana threw off a mound Sunday for the first time since his August shutdown.

After the 20-pitch session to bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello, Santana pronounced himself fit and on track for the Opening Day start, April 1 against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field.

"This is my first time in a while, but it was fine," Santana said. "I don't think it was my best or anything, but it's Day 1. You've got to start at some point.

"Today was a beginning for me. ... You always worry about how you feel and everything, but at the same time I was just trying to get my job done and not trying to overdo things out there."

The Mets are eyeing March 2 against the Miami Marlins in Port St. Lucie for Santana's first Grapefruit League action of spring training, manager Terry Collins said. Santana needs to repeat Sunday's activity off a mound, then throw batting practice before advancing to the exhibition game.

Santana, 33, missed the entire 2011 season rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder. He returned last season to have a solid first half, highlighted by tossing the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1.

In the next 10 starts, from the no-hitter until he was shut down for the season with lower-back inflammation, Santana had an 8.27 ERA. He allowed six or more earned runs in each of his final five starts, beginning with a game against the Chicago Cubs in which Reed Johnson stepped on Santana's right ankle while the pitcher covered first base.

Santana said he was relieved to be doing a normal spring-training program like his teammates rather than rehabbing.

"I'm not doing anything special or in a different group, like I was before," Santana said. "So definitely it's good to be a part of everything now."

Santana's only quibble Sunday was with the atypically cool South Florida weather.

"He said it was just a little too cold for him today, which I totally understand," Collins said. "The first day you throw off a mound and it's 40 degrees, it's not that comfortable."

Said Santana: "It was a little windy. I guess I picked out the coldest day out of spring training to start everything."