NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Johan Santana didn’t take very long to get used to the mound again.
The on-the-mend left-hander made his first start for the Mets in almost 11 months, throwing three scoreless innings for Class-A St. Lucie on Thursday night.
Santana threw 33 pitches – 26 for strikes – to get through the three innings against the Daytona Cubs. He allowed two hits, struck out three and hit a batter.
One of the 11 batters Santana faced had a two-ball count.
“I felt good,” Santana said. “It’s my first time actually in a real game where I have to throw all my pitches and actually get a hitter out. But it worked out pretty good. I felt that all my pitches were there. I mean, I was able to throw them without any problems. That’s what I’m looking for.
“I was very pleased with the way everything ended up today.”
Santana’s last start was Sept. 2, 2010, against Atlanta. He had surgery on Sept. 14 to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.
“I’ve been working,” Santana said. “The last time I faced some hitters I had a simulated game here and I was able to throw my pitches. I think it’s getting better and better. I think that’s what we’re working for. I’ve been working on all my pitches. When I started my rehab and throwing off the mound, I was working on my mechanics to make sure that my mechanics were there and have my arm adjust to it.”
Santana began his spring training approximately two weeks ago. He threw 42 pitches in a simulated game in Port St. Lucie last week then threw 45 in a bullpen session before the Mets game at Florida last Sunday.
Santana was scheduled to throw 45 pitches or three innings Thursday.
“I was happy to see him be able to go through all three innings and maintain his velocity,” rehab coordinator Randy Niemann said. “I think there was a little bit of a dip in the last inning which wasn’t a concern. The fact that he came out tonight, I thought he did a decent job.”
Niemann said Santana’s fastball was clocked at 89-90 mph, a little bit higher than expected.
Santana and Niemann said the biggest concern is how Santana recovers from the start. If all goes well, Niemann said Santana could start in six days – which would be part of a doubleheader against the Jupiter Hammerheads on Aug. 3.
“The big question is, it’s more than he did last time,” Niemann said. “How is he going to recover? That’s what this whole process is about. I thought he did a nice job tonight.”
Barring any setbacks, Santana is on track to join the Mets around Aug. 21.
“That’s what we’re working on,” Santana said. “As of right now we’re just going to go one step at time, build up my arm strength and the pitch counts and I hope that at some point I will join the team. My focus right now is to make sure that every outing is a good one and I’ll be able to recover from one step to another. I’m definitely on my way.”
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