Mets rumors: Johan Santana sidelined to start season?

Mike Stobe

New York is none too happy with Santana's current conditioning, and may have to sit the veteran southpaw Opening Day if his shoulder doesn't show signs of improvement soon.

The New York Mets were hoping to finally put Johan Santana's long injury history in the rear-view mirror this spring following a long winter designed to get his shoulder back up to full strength. That, however, is far from the reality the club faced when Spring Training opened last month.

Santana's surgically-repaired shoulder was nowhere near game ready when he reported to camp, forcing the club to slow his training regimen considerably. Now a week into exhibition matches, the southpaw is no nearer to taking the mound and could very well begin the season on the disabled list, reports Ken Belson of the New York Times:

Johan Santana has not pitched in a game this spring and may not be ready for opening day...

Santana is the biggest headache for the Mets because he is due $25.5 million this season and, with the departure of R. A. Dickey, is the presumptive ace of the staff.

The Mets have expressed disappointment at where Santana is in terms of conditioning, but have remained optimistic about what the left-hander can contribute to the club this season. Manager Terry Collins went so far as to express that Santana's injury could make him "fresher" during the summer months, which is certainly a glass half-full outlook if there ever was one.

For now, though doctors have deemed Santana's shoulder "sound," the veteran will not throw off a mound for at least a week.

Soon to be 34, Santana is in the final guaranteed year of his six-year, $137.5 million contract with the Mets, which also includes a $25.5 million team option (with $5 million buyout) for the 2014 season.

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