Santana sharp in mound return

PORT ST. LUCIE — To Johan Santana and the Mets, this was a most pleasant spring sight.

The left-hander returned to the mound for his first game against major-leaguers in 18 months and pitched two scoreless innings Tuesday as a Mets split squad beat the Cardinals 8-6.

Santana walked his first batter on five pitches. But a single marked the only other runner against Santana, who threw 17 of 29 pitches for strikes.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner last pitched to big-league hitters on Sept. 2, 2010, in Atlanta. Two weeks later he had surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

"Finally I had an opportunity to go out there and finally get the first one out of the way," Santana said. "… I was excited about (Tuesday). 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 fastballs on all 13 of his pitches in the first inning, mostly around 87-88 mph on the radar gun and topping out at 90 mph. But he broke out his signature changeup and a few sliders in the second.

"I didn't know what his velocity would be like having not pitched in a long time," Holliday said. "(Throwing) 89-90 at the beginning of spring training I would say is pretty good."

PIRATES STAR on board: Andrew McCutchen sounded a bit overwhelmed. "It all really hasn't sunk in for me yet," the All-Star centerfielder said after agreeing to a $51.5 million, six-year contract with the Pirates. "It like when you're getting remarried and you are renewing your vows. That's how I feel."

REYES DEBUTS: Shortstop Jose Reyes made his spring debut with the Marlins, going 0-for-3 in a 3-1 loss to the Tigers. "Spring training is all about feeling good at the plate and putting a good swing on the ball," the former Mets All-Star said.

ALL-STAR RETIRES: Three-time All-Star infielder Carlos Guillen, a 14-year veteran, announced his retirement. "It's a tough decision for me, for my family, for everybody because I tried to come back," said Guillen, 36, who was at the Mariners' spring camp as a non-roster invitee.

ASTROS: Backup catcher Humberto Quintero left for Houston to have his injured back examined by team doctors.

BRAVES: First baseman Freddie Freeman played four innings a week after dislocating his right kneecap and told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the knee "feels great right now."

GIANTS: Closer Brian Wilson, who has been sidelined by inflammation in his right (pitching) elbow, is scheduled to make his spring debut Sunday.

NATIONALS: Outfielder Michael Morse was scratched with a strained lat muscle and is day to day.

RANGERS: Manager Ron Washington essentially ruled out the chance that Cuban defector Leonys Martin would make the team out of spring training. "If my guys stay healthy, my intention is he'll get a full year in the minors," Washington told the Dallas Morning News. "And my intention is for my guys to stay healthy." The centerfielder, 24, reached Triple-A Round Rock in his first season in the U.S.

RED SOX: A rotation with a big question mark in the No. 5 spot lost one candidate when veteran right-hander Carlos Silva, 32, was shut down with shoulder inflammation.

ROCKIES: Right-hander Alex White, who was charged with DUI Saturday, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.174 percent based on a breath test at the scene, according to arrest reports. He'll be charged with extreme DUI if blood tests confirm the result.

Santana sharp in mound return 03/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 9:32pm]

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