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Mets Expect Sanatana To Be Able To Pitch In Mid-March

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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 06: Head Trainer Ray Ramirez watches Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets throw after Santana fell on a play at first base during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on July 6, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 06: Head Trainer Ray Ramirez watches Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets throw after Santana fell on a play at first base during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on July 6, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (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 Friday 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 AL 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 Sunday 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.

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.

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 the 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 there was no structural issues in his surgically repaired right elbow. Francisco has not pitched in more than a week due to inflammation.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. )                    

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