In the words of Terry Collins: “Nice going, Johan!”

In Port St. Lucie today, New York Mets ace Johan Santanathrew to live batters for the first time since the fall.

Santana threw a total of 43 pitches to Mets hitters, including David Wright, Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, during a pair of simulated innings. It was Santana’s first time in a game-like setting since being shut down for winter rest following a simulated game against Mets minor leaguers participating in the fall instructional league in Fort Myers, Fla.

Santana, who did not appear in the majors last season, is trying to return from Sept. 14, 2010 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

He is scheduled to make his first Grapefruit League start Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals. Manager Terry Collins plans for Santana to start Opening Day on April 5 against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.

This is some great progress. Unlike a lot of Mets fans, I expect a lot of things from Johan this year and next year. I think knowing that he has changed his pitching mechanics, it gives you hope that he won’t hurt his elbow as much and he will start focusing on his shoulder for power and consistency. When I hear people in the media say, “touch his shoulder, it’s a rock of muscle!” I know after hearing that from the coaches that Johan will be back and ready to go this Spring. Now I am not saying he will be CY Young Johan, but he will certainly be Johan with a 3.00 ERA and 13 wins. That’s what the Mets need if they want to make a miracle run this season…

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