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Johan Santana’s First Spring Training Appearance Pushed Back To Mid-March

Johan Santana (credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Johan Santana (credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Johan Santana will not make his first spring training appearance for the New York Mets this year until mid-March.

General manager Sandy Alderson said on Friday that the 33-year-old left-hander is expected to pitch in an exhibition game sometime from March 10-12 instead of March 2. Alderson said he didn’t think Santana will miss the start of the regular season, but said it was a possibility.

“There’s no structural issue. It’s just a matter of building up strength,” Alderson said. “He’ll be long-tossing before he gets back on the mound. We expect that his schedule will have been delayed somewhat.”

A two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, Santana missed 2011 following shoulder surgery and went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts last year, when he pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1 against St. Louis. He didn’t pitch after Aug. 17 because of lower back inflammation.

Santana threw off a mound for the first time since August on Sunday. He said he felt fine after the 20-pitch session and was on track to start the April 1 opener against San Diego.

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Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek examined Santana this week.

“We expected he would have had a normal offseason, and he did have a normal offseason with the exception of not throwing,” Alderson said. “His throwing program is somewhat behind, but the important thing is Altchek saw him yesterday. There’s no structural issue. There’s no shoulder issue, it’s just an overall conditioning issue as it relates to throwing.”

Santana gets $25.5 million this year in the final guaranteed season of his $137.5 million, six-year contract. The Mets hold a $25 million option for 2014 with a $5.5 million buyout. They will almost certainly opt not to exercise his option.

Alderson also said reliever Pedro Feliciano and outfielder Jamie Hoffmann have returned to New York for follow-up exams to their physicals, which took place Sunday. Alderson would not go into detail other than terming the issues “non-orthopedic.” He expects both players to return to camp within two days.

New York said reliever Frank Francisco is expected to begin throwing Monday or Tuesday. Francisco was examined by Altchek on Thursday and Alderson said it was determined that there were no structural issues in his surgically-repaired right elbow. Francisco has not pitched in more than a week due to inflammation.

Do you think Johan will be on the hill at Citi Field when the Mets host the Padres on Opening Day? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)