Johan Santana eyes rehab start

Updated: July 23, 2011, 10:28 PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

MIAMI -- New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana confirmed he is ready to advance to a minor league rehab game, assuming he throws a bullpen session without issue before Sunday's Mets-Marlins game at Sun Life Stadium.

Santana, working his way back from Sept. 14 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, threw a three-inning simulated game Friday in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He then joined the Mets for their weekend series in Miami.

The Mets are eyeing Wednesday for Santana's first minor league game, which would start a maximum 30-day clock for him to return to the majors.

"After tomorrow, I hope that if everything goes right, I'll get an opportunity to maybe get in a minor league game or something like that," Santana said Saturday. "It's not for sure. But if everything is fine and they evaluate that it's fine, then that's what we're going to do."

Manager Terry Collins would like Santana to pitch in the major leagues this season, if for no other reason than to have peace of mind during the offseason that the shoulder will not be an issue in 2012.

"I've told him so. I think it will be very, very important for him to get some outings this year so that (when) he comes in next spring, the doubt is gone," Collins said.

Said Santana: "I'm working my way back, and I hope to be back sometime this season. That's where we're at right now, and that's what I want to do. But if it doesn't happen, it doesn't mean it's the end of the world. We are here on the same page, and we want to make sure looking toward the future we're in good shape."

Santana is signed for two more seasons, with a team option for 2014.

He registered 89 mph during his most recent session facing batters. The southpaw believes the velocity will rise as he goes through a spring training-like program over the next month.

"It's too early to think about velocity," Santana said. "The next couple of weeks are going to be important, and I'm going to have a better idea of where the velocity is and how I feel when I throw the ball. ... It's just a matter of getting the strength back. Time, I think, will dictate how I'm going to be. But as of now I feel good."

The track record for returning from the type of surgery Santana underwent has not been favorable. Chien-Ming Wang is still trying to work back to the major leagues for the first time since 2009 with the New York Yankees.

Still, Santana indicated he remains upbeat. He added that he has not consulted Mark Prior, Wang or any other pitcher who has undergone the procedure.

"Everybody's different," Santana said. "It all depends how you approach this. It's not easy. But, at the same time, it's not impossible. As of now, I feel good."

Santana had been held off a mound for two weeks in early June after experiencing what general manager Sandy Alderson described as discomfort in the shoulder. Santana minimized that issue, noting he continued to throw on flat ground during that time period while staying off the mound.

"I felt, and my body was telling me, to long toss more than just get on the mound, because that intensity was definitely different than what I was doing," Santana said. "I went back to long toss and everything was fine. And after I got on the mound again, I was doing this with no problem."

Santana added: "Just because you have a program written down doesn't mean you have to follow it exactly how it is."

Santana said the season-long absence from the Mets has been passable because he has his children with him while rehabbing. He also has gone fishing on occasion with injured first baseman Ike Davis at a pond behind the Mets' Port St. Lucie complex.

"I didn't know how to fish," Santana said. "Ike, every time he casts, he gets something. I was like, 'Again?' And I was just hanging there, just being careful for a snake or something -- I don't know, an alligator. We got a raccoon one time. It came out of nowhere. I was like, 'Oh, god.' But it was a great time."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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