After Santana missed a scheduled "B" game appearance Friday against Italy's national team, the Mets said their ace would not take his turn Tuesday against St. Louis. That was to have been his first regular spring training game appearance of the year.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel said that because spring training is nearly a week longer this year due to the World Baseball Classic, he decided to be "extra cautious" with his ace.
"There's no hurry with Johan in spring training if he's experiencing any discomfort," Manuel said.
Santana, who had arthroscopic surgery Oct. 1 on torn cartilage in his left knee, didn't think the tightness in his elbow was related to rushing back from the knee surgery too soon, but rather from overuse early in camp.
"I've been throwing bullpens here every other day, and I don't think I've ever done that in the past," Santana said Thursday. "The reason why is because we wanted to test my knee and make sure everything is fine, throwing every other day off the mound."
He threw off a mound for the first time since the offseason surgery on Feb. 10 and has faced no setbacks with the leg.
"My knee is fine," the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner said. "There's no problem, but it takes some time to get adjusted to pitching and throwing 100 percent off the mound, so right now I am just taking my time. There is no need to rush. My focus is on April 6."
Santana went 16-7 last year with a major league-best 2.53 ERA in his first season with the Mets.
Notes: The Mets agreed to a minor league contract with LHP Ron Villone, who was invited to big league camp. The 39-year-old spent last year with the St. Louis Cardinals and went 1-2 with one save and a 4.68 ERA in 74 games.