There's a Timetable for Johan Santana's Return to the Mound

It will be late June or July before Santana is back in Queens

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Most of the wondering about the Mets has centered on who will be owning the team when all is said and done with the lawsuit against the Wilpons, but it is hardly the only question hanging over the team.

    One of the biggest other ones involved the return of Johan Santana to the starting rotation. Santana had shoulder surgery on September 14th and since then we've had no firm idea about just when to expect the Mets' best pitcher back on the hill. That changed Thursday when Sandy Alderson laid out the broad strokes of the plan for Santana's return.

    He's throwing on flat ground every other day right now and will keep a similar schedule for the next three months or so. Then comes throwing off a mound for six to eight weeks, positioning him for a return to the mound in late June or early July. All of this is subject to how Santana is feeling, of course, and that's what keeps this from being something you can write out in more than pencil.

    Johan Santana: "I'm Happy To Be Back."

    [NY] Johan Santana: "I'm Happy To Be Back."
    Although he won't pitch until late June at the earliest, Mets ace Johan Santana is in camp and back with team after shoulder surgery cut his 2010 season short.

    Santana's injury -- a torn anterior capsule -- is an unusual one and there isn't much, if any, history of pitchers making their way back from this condition. So far, Santana has experienced some tightness in his shoulder when tossing the ball and you can be sure any further issues like that will slow down the train. Even when he's ready to go, the question of whether or not he'll be the same Santana he was before the injury remains to be answered.

    In other words, there's a lot of story yet to be written. Whatever winds up getting written in the short term, there's not much reason to think the Mets are going to press the pedal to the metal to get him back before they're sure he's ready and sure he won't damage his shoulder any more. They're on the hook for at least $77.5 million and, given all of the financial nonsense swirling about, they aren't going to be able to go out and get another frontline starter to take Santana's place.

    So while it might be nice to sit back and dream about a surprising Mets team getting a shot in the arm from Santana around midseason, it's just as optimistic to hope that we're watching him get ready for action this time next year.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.