Johan Santana throws in bullpen

NEW YORK -- Johan Santana threw a bullpen session on Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, and remains scheduled to make his return for the New York Mets on Saturday night, pitching against the Atlanta Braves.

"He's ready to go on Saturday," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "He feels great."

Santana has been on the disabled list since July 21 with a right ankle sprain, suffered in his final start before the All-Star break while covering first base. He tried to pitch through the injury, making two more starts after the break, but gave up a combined 12 runs in just eight innings of work against the Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I'm very, very confident that Saturday night we're gonna see a good outing out of Johan," Collins said. "Because he's feeling so much better -- the way his arm feels, the way his leg feels, the energy he's gotten back."

On the season, the 33-year-old is 6-7 with a 3.98 ERA in 19 starts. He missed the entire 2011 season with a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

Collins said there are no restrictions on Santana going forward, but admitted that the team will be careful in how they use him the rest of the season. The Mets, 53-57 heading into Wednesday night's game against the Miami Marlins, are 14 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals in the NL East, and 9½ games out in the race for the final NL wild card.

"We need to be very cautious in the month of September to make sure he goes into the offseason feeling good," said Collins. "If that means we've gotta somehow give him an extra day now and then, figure out a way to do it, we'll do it.

"I don't want to go into next spring training trying to find out if Johan Santana's gonna be healthy again. We need to go into the offseason knowing he is."