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Star lefty Johan Santana finally made his return to a Major League mound on Tuesday afternoon for the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida, throwing two scoreless innings in Grapefruit League action against the reigning champs, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Sure, it wasn’t a game that bore any real significance, but after missing all of the 2011 season with a shoulder capsule injury that initially sidelined him at the end of the 2010 campaign, Santana’s return to the field was pure beauty to the organization and its dedicated fans. September 2, 2010 in Atlanta against the Braves – that was the last time that Santana had even faced a big league ball club.
“Finally I had an opportunity to go out there and finally get the first one out of the way,” said Santana. “… I was excited about today. Even as I was preparing myself prior to the game, I was anxious to go out there and do it. But at the same time, it was all about how I feel.
“I know it is a game situation and you have to do your job out there, but I was just focused on making sure I do the mechanics the right way and feeling good and not feeling anything in my arm. And that’s how I felt today. I felt good.”
Santana threw 29 pitches in his two innings of work. He appeared shaky at the outset, walking the leadoff hitter on just 5 pitches, but settled down and hit the strike zone on 16 of his final 24 pitches.
Not trying to be too cute coming back from a serious shoulder injury, 12 of Santana’s 13 first inning pitches were fastballs. His velocity was closely monitored and will continue to be throughout the season. He was consistently in the high 80’s and topped out at 90 on one early pitch.
Secondary pitches began to be incorporated in the second inning, one of which being his devastating changeup – the main putaway pitch that has turned him into a two time Cy Young Award winner and one of the game’s elite pitchers for the last several years. Santana had no strikeouts in the outing, but allowed no runs on just one hit and one walk.
“It was fun,” said Mets catcher Josh Thole, who was behind the plate. “I think it should be encouraging for the whole team. He went out there and it was kind of like he just left off where he was.”
Santana will once again be the ace of the staff. The four starters behind him will likely be R.A. Dickey, Jonathan Niese, Mike Pelfrey, and Dillon Gee.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/