By Ed Coleman
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The Mets were looking for a passing grade — Johan Santana gave them one with flying colors.
Santana threw 29 pitches, mostly (22) fastballs, while hurling two scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday in Port St. Lucie. Everyone was in good spirits after the ace passed his test, and manager Terry Collins probably summed it up best.
Santana appeared a little anxious by walking the first batter, but then quickly showed his athleticism, fielding a sharp grounder back to the mound and turning a double play. How did it feel to be out there?
Santana had to be a little nervous for the much anticipated start, but he always has a game plan going in.
He didn’t have a great slider on Tuesday and threw just a couple of changeups — one a beauty, a swinging strike to Yadier Molina — but overall, he was very encouraged.
Josh Thole caught Santana on Tuesday. He has made a point not to treat the No. 1 pitcher any different than any other starter on the staff this spring.
But Thole felt it was not only a good day for Santana, but for every Met player.
And did Thole agree with his manager, probably the best day thus far?
R.A. Dickey followed Santana with two perfect innings (2 strikeouts). Dickey said it was hard warming up in the bullpen because it was hard to take his eyes off Santana.
The knuckleballer found it hard to quantify whether he was surprised at Santana’s proficiency in his outing or not.
Jon Rauch and Jeurys Familia were hit around in their relief stints, Familia giving up a grand slam in the 7th inning. Pedro Beato followed and was pulled from the game after experiencing shoulder stiffness. It’s not believed to be serious and Beato will be shut down for at least the next couple of days.
D.J. Carrasco pitched a solid 1 1/3 innings, striking out two, and keep your eye on young southpaw Josh Edgin. Edgin struck out the final two batters of the game. The Mets are looking for another lefty in the pen, and even though Edgin has not pitched above Class A, he’s in the mix.
Andres Torres had the big hit, a bases-clearing triple in the 7th. Adam Loewen had a couple of hits, and Collins singled out Ronnie Cedeno, who had a hit and an RBI, for his patient approach at the plate.
The Mets had a split-squad day, the other team not faring as well in Kissimmee, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Astros. Josh Satin had a pair of hits and knocked in the only run. Lucas Duda doubled. Daniel Murphy had a throwing error trying to turn a double play. Vin Rottino had an error playing 3rd. Two of the 3 runs off starter Chris Schwinden were unearned.
Wednesday the Mets hit the road, taking on the Marlins in Jupiter. Lefties Jonathan Niese and Sean West will go. Ramon Ramirez, Manny Acosta and Bobby Parnell will also pitch. Jose Reyes will not be there – he’ll be with other Marlins playing Florida International University at the new Miami ballpark.
David Wright may not play in games until next week as he continues to rest his strained side.
C U soon
What did you think of Santana’s start? Give us your report in the comments below…