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Santana Targeting Mets' Opening Day Return

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (WFAN/AP) — Johan Santana threw off a mound Friday for the first time after a 4½-month break as he tries to make it back to the major leagues for the New York Mets' opener in April.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner threw 25 pitches to Josh Thole on Friday, Santana's first mound session since pitching four innings in an Instructional League game on Sept. 30. Santana had surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder on Sept. 14, 2010, and has not pitched in a major league game since.

"I feel really good," he said. "This is something we always do. The approach that we had from the beginning was to do everything like I always do to get ready for the season and that's, for me, about the time to get on the mound and start throwing. "I was able to throw my pitches and it felt good after that."

Mets manager Terry Collins, who stood a few steps from Thole during the session, said Santana will work out with the team the way any healthy player would. Pitchers and catchers start drills Wednesday.

"You saw the smile on his face. You don't think he's happy with what's going on? He is," Collins said. "It's a huge step for us. It's a big day for him, and now it's just gradually move forward and build him up."

Santana said he felt like his arm and motion were approaching where they were in 2010.  If he can be fully healthy in 2012, it will be a major boost to the Mets' rotation.

"When I was hurt, I wasn't able to finish and my mechanics were totally different," he said. "Now, I'm getting back to what I used to be and that's what I'm looking for. Being able to get that delivery with no problems and let the ball do everything. I'm not trying to push it or muscle it or anything, just let the ball go and build up from there."

New York will continue to monitor Santana daily, much as it did with Carlos Beltran's right knee during spring training last year.

"He and I have already talked about it," Collins said. "He's got to be honest, which he's been through the whole process."

Santana will take the weekend off and is not scheduled to throw again until Tuesday. He said he will know Saturday how the shoulder feels.

"Tomorrow definitely is an important day," Santana said. "We'll see how I recover from it."

What do you make of Santana's progress?  Share your thoughts below...

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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