On the same day the New York Mets officially completed the acquisition of promising young hurlers, one of their elder starters, Johan Santana also made some very positive headlines.
The 32-year-old made his first rehab start since undergoing shoulder surgery last September. Against the Daytona Cubs (high Class A), he went three innings and allowed no runs on two hits and three strikeouts. Santana threw a total of 33 pitches, 26 of them strikes. The Bergen Record's Bob Klapisch relayed a report from the Mets that said Santana was throwing 89-90 miles per hour, with a "slight" dip in the final inning. And he never had a three-ball count on a Cubs batter, according to Bill Whitehead of ESPN New York.
"I felt good," Santana said as quoted by Whitehead. "It's my first time actually in a real game where I had to get a hitter out. I felt all my pitches were there and that I was able to throw them without any problem. I was excited to go and have the opportunity to get the first one out of the way. It's been a long process, but a good one."
Santana will be evaluated Friday morning. And if he feels fine, he will throw a bullpen over the weekend. Rehabilitation pitching coordinator Randy Niemann says Santana will be given six days of rest. Despite this being the last step in his recovery, it still needs to be taken very slowly -- with the aim of making it back healthy and at full strength by next season. Santana will supposedly be given a month's work of rehab starts before getting the recall to the major leagues, assuming all goes smoothly.
And obviously, the lefty still has a ways to go to build up arm strength ... and regain any of his past magic. Who knows what he will be like on the mound when all is said and done.
"There is a big gap [between then and now]," said Niemann. "I believe you take that guy out to a major league mound right now and he'd give you everything he's got. Physically, his shoulder's just not ready right now. We hope over the next month, we can build up the strength and recovery. It's paying off, but we have a ways to go.
"He understands (that). For me, it would be like him coming out of his first outing of spring training and saying he was ready to pitch in the season. He knows he's not. He's happy with the results and that he feels good, but he knows there's a lot of pitching to go before he's ready."
H/T to ESPN NY for the full report/story on Santana's outing.