Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Collins Gushing over Johan's Outing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Collins Gushing over Johan's Outing

Article excerpt

PORT. ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Using his baseball cleats - first the ones on his left foot, then the ones on his right - Johan Santana brushed the dirt from the mound, and with that sweeping motion, brushed the dirt off his baseball career.

Eighteen months after shoulder surgery, Santana emerged for his first start of the spring Tuesday afternoon. It was his first appearance in a Mets uniform since Sept. 2, 2010 - 12 days before he underwent the procedure on his left shoulder.

He threw 29 pitches during his two-inning stint against the St. Louis Cardinals at Digital Domain Park, 17 for strikes. His fastball topped out at 90 mph, with the Mets claiming 92 by their readings. His change-up bottomed out at 78. No hitter made it past first base.

But more important than those raw metrics was the condition of Santana's left shoulder.

"Overall I think the key was on how I feel," Santana said after coming out of Tuesday's 8-6 Mets victory. "And I felt pretty good."

His manager knows the next few days will offer a better measure of the strength of Santana's shoulder. Still, he could not stop gushing, telling reporters, "I don't know if we can have a bigger step forward."

"We take enough body blows as it is," manager Terry Collins said. "We need to be able to put a smile on our face, say, 'Gosh darn, that's a good day. That's joy.' "

Santana jogged out to the mound at 1:08 p.m. and was throwing heat two minutes later. After issuing a five-pitch walk to Cardinals outfielder Shane Robinson to start the game, he came back and got second baseman Skip Schumaker to hit into a 1-6-3 double play. He threw six fastballs to designated hitter Matt Holliday, including one that hit 90, eventually inducing a fly ball to center field.

In the second, Santana allowed his only hit - a single by first baseman Mark Hamilton - but retired the other three hitters on ground balls. …

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