Santana could need six weeks to be ready for the season

Johan Santana 1 polaroidJohan Santana will probably stay behind in Florida as the team breaks camp and heads north for Opening Day, Terry Collins said to reporters on Friday.

Collins said Santana is behind in his long-toss program. He did not broach the topic of Santana to the DL, though.

Update – Mar. 23, 4:00 pm: Terry Collins believes Santana will be ready in six weeks (Carig, Newsday).

Update – Mar. 23, 8:38 am: Santana told reporters he will throw a 90 foot long-toss session today.

Santana also said his shoulder is not strong and it doesn’t feel great – he is unsure when he will pitch this season, nor does he know when his next bullpen session will be.

Santana said team doctors feel his shoulder is structurally sound, it’s just been a slow process to recover 100 percent.

Santana has dealt with weakness in his left shoulder, and has not pitched in a Grapefruit League game this spring.

Santana was shutdown on August 17 and placed on the disabled list on August 22 with what the team characterized as lower back stiffness. However, Sandy Alderson said on WFAN on Thursday Santana was suffering more from general fatigue due to his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery he underwent in September, 2010.

Michael Baron, Contributor

Mar 22, 5:35 pm: This comes as no surprise. Santana hasn’t been on a mound in more than two weeks, and wasn’t able to complete a bullpen through that time either. Based on what Collins said today, it sounds like Santana has a long way to go before even thinking about another bullpen. Whenever he can complete a few normal cycles, he will then have to start building up his innings in simulated games or minor league rehab games before even thinking about starting in a big league game. Hopefully that’s sooner rather than later, but I get the feeling Santana is at least a month away, if not longer…

Mar 23, 9:50 am: If Santana is going to be out for an extended period of time (it sounds like he will be), I wonder what all of this means for Zack Wheeler. Yes, they have to consider his “Super Two” arbitration eligibility in a couple of years, but if Wheeler is performing in April down in Vegas, the Mets have to at least explore the possibility of promoting him the big leagues. I don’t think there’s a chance Wheeler will break camp with the Mets – it’s clear Hefner will replace Santana for now. And, in order to prevent Wheeler from accruing a full year of service time in 2013, they have to wait until after the 20th day of the regular season before bringing him up.

Per MLB rules, a player accrues a full year of Major League service time if he spends 172 of the 182 days on the active roster or on the Major League disabled list. If a player is optioned to the minor leagues for 20 days or less, he is credited with big league service time as well.