Santana Shines in Long-Awaited Spring Debut

Mets ace "felt pretty good" two weeks after elbow tightness

New York Mets ace Johan Santana was relieved to get his long-awaited spring debut done with.

Held back because of elbow tightness for two weeks, Santana gave up four hits and three runs, including a homer to Dan Uggla, in 2 2-3 innings against the Florida Marlins on Thursday night. He struck out two and hit a batter in his first game action since having offseason knee surgery.

"The first time being in a real game situation, I felt pretty good," Santana said. "I was able to get everything going right away and throw all my pitches. It was a good sign."

Santana was scratched from a start Feb. 27 and saw his role as opening day starter put in jeopardy at one point. But three days after being scratched, Santana was back on the mound and he has breezed through several bullpen sessions. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is on track to make that first start in Cincinnati on April 6.

"It's just I had a little setback," Santana said. "I worked out and did all the treatment I was supposed to do and got back on track. I knew all along I was fine. It was just a matter of time, getting the game situations and facing hitters, and tonight was the time."

Santana needed just 10 pitches to get through a perfect first inning. He got leadoff batter Emilio Bonifacio on a popup to first with an 0-2 count, then struck out Cameron Maybin swinging at changeup before Jeremy Hermida grounded out to first.

The second was a little rougher for the left-hander. He gave up a home run off a waist-high fastball to Dan Uggla on the first pitch and hit first baseman Logan Morrison with a pitch to his rib cage.

"Uggla swung at the first pitch right away, and most of the time, that's what they are going to do," Santana said. "Most of the times they are going to attack me early. ... It was one pitch and done, and I was able to come back and get the other guys out."

Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco led off the third with a single, and Santana gave up two more hits and another run before making his exit with a runner on first and two outs. He threw 47 pitches -- 32 for strikes -- but expected to last three innings or 45 pitches.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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