By Ed Coleman
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On a cold, blustery Florida Sunday — much like it might be on Opening Day at Citi Field — Johan Santana returned to the mound for the first time since being shut down for good last season in August.
So, how did it feel today?
And what exactly is the plan, Johan?
Santana threw just 20 pitches in his first outing, but for manager Terry Collins, it was good to see the old Johan back.
After Santana threw his no-hitter on June 1, he made 10 more starts which produced an 8.27 ERA before being shut down. The first spring game Santana will appear in is scheduled to be against the Miami Marlins on March 2. He’s just thankful that this is a much more normal spring training than what he’s had to go through the last couple of years 1024-3.
And Collins reiterated that the veteran lefty is on track just like every other pitcher currently in camp.
Collins also talked Sunday about the man who’ll be behind the plate for Santana on Opening Day — catcher John Buck. Randy St. Claire, who’ll be Wally Backman’s pitching coach at Triple-A Las Vegas this year, was with the Marlins last season when Buck was there, and registered high praise for the backstop when asked by Collins.
Collins will address the full team for the first time on Monday morning when the Mets have their initial full-squad workout. And with so many spots up for grabs, and a large number of non-roster invitees in camp, the manager wanted to clarify one thing in particular for his charges.