Santana debut delayed, but Mets not worried

PORT ST. LUCIE — Johan Santana's first spring appearance for the Mets has been pushed back until mid March, the team said Friday.

The left-hander does not have any structural damage in his throwing shoulder but needs more time to build up strength.

"I haven't been on the mound for a while, so it takes time to get everything adjusted again and to get in that pitching mode again," Santana, 33, said. "It takes time. It's not a setback at all. It just needs time to build up."

General manager Sandy Alderson said the left-hander is expected to pitch in an exhibition game between March 10-12 instead of March 2.

After watching Santana throw this week, manager Terry Collins said he immediately knew Santana didn't have the arm speed or feel for his pitches that he did at this time last year. He added he would like to see Santana make four starts, increasing his pitch count from 45 to 95 pitches, ahead of a planned opening day start.

"I'm not concerned about it," Collins said.

Alderson said he didn't believe Santana will miss the start of the regular season but said it is a possibility.

"There's no structural issue," Alderson said. "He'll be long-tossing before he gets back on the mound. We expect that his schedule will have been delayed somewhat."

Nationals pitcher says he's clean

VIERA — Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez said tests for performance-enhancing drugs he was given by Major League Baseball come back negative.

The left-hander was among those listed in a Miami New Times report as receiving performance-enhancing drugs from a now-closed anti-aging clinic in Miami. ESPN reported Tuesday that Gonzalez was the only player named so far who had not received PEDs.

In a brief statement, he said he expected the negative results and reiterated he has never taken performance-enhancing drugs. Gonzalez didn't take any questions, citing MLB's ongoing investigation.

Braves: Justin and B.J. Upton made their Atlanta debuts, both going 0-for-2 against the Tigers. Neither was available for comment.

Marlins: Manager Mike Redmond said Justin Ruggiano, projected to start in center, is day-to-day with a strained lower back sustained while fielding grounders Thursday. Gorkys Hernandez is scheduled to start for him today.

Mariners: Hector Noesi, seeking a spot in the back end of the rotation, failed to get out of the first inning in a 9-3 loss to the Padres. He threw 42 pitches, allowing four hits and six runs (four earned). But manager Eric Wedge said he wasn't too concerned: "He was just a little bit up, but he said he felt good. Hopefully, he can work off that and come back a little bit stronger next time."

Rangers: Third baseman Adrian Beltre sat out the opener with a tight right calf and likely will miss a few more games.

Santana debut delayed, but Mets not worried 02/22/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 22, 2013 10:48pm]

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