Santana’s first start pushed back a week, lacking arm strength

Johan Santana polaroidJohan Santana’s first Grapefruit League start will be pushed back to between March 10 and March 15, Sandy Alderson said today at Tradition Field.

According to Alderson, Santana is not in any pain, he has no structural damage, and his start on Opening Day is not yet in jeopardy. Instead, he simply needs to build more arm strength before making his first start of the spring.

2:10 PM: According to SNY’s Matt Dunn, Terry Collins said Johan Santana has been lacking arm strength in the early part of camp.

Collins is not concerned about Santana, and believes it’s too early to worry about his status for Opening Day.

Collins said he has noticed Santana has been missing arm speed while throwing, and so they are trying to maximize his rest period as he gets ready for the season.

When Santana is ready to pitch in a game, he will throw 35 pitches in his first start – Collins expects Santana to make four starts this Spring.

1:15 PM: According to SNY’s Matt Dunn, Santana said he hasn’t encountered any setbacks – he is just taking things slow and building up his strength.

Santana is not concerned about missing his Opening Day start, but wants to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Santana said he is getting ready for the season, as opposed to last Spring when he was continuing to rebuild from shoulder surgery.

For now, Santana is just playing catch and long toss – he threw from 130 feet today.

Santana was shutdown last August 17 and later placed on the disabled with what the team characterized as lower back stiffness. Alderson said last month that Santana also suffered last summer from general fatigue due to his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery he underwent in September, 2010.