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Johan Santana's spring debut moved to mid-March

02/22/2013 12:48 PM ET
By Joe Auriemma

Santana went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts last season, including the first no-hitter in Mets history.(AP)
Two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana will not be making his first appearance in a Spring Training game for the New York Mets until at least the middle of March, general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Santana missed all of 2011 following shoulder surgery. In 2012, Santana went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 117 innings pitched at 21 starts. However, he threw the Mets first franchise no-hitter on June 1. He did not pitch again after his five=inning, six earned run loss to the Washington Nationals on August 17 after a diagnosis of lower back inflammation.

On Sunday, Santana threw off a mound for the first time since that appearance and said he felt normal after the 20-pitch session. Alderson expects him to make his first appearance around March 10-12 and is positive that he will be ready for the start of the 2013 season.

"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."

Santana is 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA in 360 career games and 284 starts. He is 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA in four seasons with the Mets, but has not pitched more than 200 innings in a season since 2008.

''We expected he would have had a normal offseason and he did have a normal offseason with the exception of not throwing,'' Alderson went on to say of the 33-year-old left-hander.

Santana enters the 2013 season in the final guaranteed year of his contract. It is expected that the Mets will pay the $5.5 million buyout after the season and avoid the $25 million option for 2014.

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