Johan Santana refutes report of setback

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana disputed a published report that his season is in jeopardy, and instead portrayed himself as steadily recovering from a Sept. 14 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

"We're right on the right track and where we're supposed to be," Santana said Sunday morning, on his 32nd birthday. "Whoever is saying that I'm not ready I think is lying. We are all on the same page here. And I've been doing my job and doing my rehab and everything the way it's supposed to be done. ... How can you have a setback at this point, where I'm just beginning to throw? I haven't even got on the mound. I haven't even forced my body to try to throw hard.

"It's just a slow process and I'm just doing it with caution. ... They always said that this takes time and this is a very slow process," Santana added. "There are going to be days you're going to feel good. There are going to be days you're not going to be so good. But that doesn't mean you're done or anything."

Santana insisted any discomfort is not alarming.

"It's just regular soreness that you're supposed to feel," he said. "It's nothing new. We're keeping track of everything. ... I've had pain before. I know the difference between pain and soreness. As of right now, you go through a process where you have to build everything up and your arm, your shoulder is weak. You know you have to overcome that. But it takes time. That's why this is a very slow process. And that's what we're doing right now."

The Bergen Record reported Sunday that Santana is in danger of missing the entire season because he is not progressing well. The newspaper said team officials believe Santana will be "lucky" to pitch this year. According to the report, he could be shut down from throwing as soon as Sunday.

Santana said he's actually more optimistic now about his recovery than at the start of camp.

"We've made some improvements," he said.

As for turning 32, Santana smiled and said: "I'm trying not to think about it, but I'm getting old. That's part of life. I've been blessed."

At the start of camp, general manager Sandy Alderson outlined a plan that would allow Santana to step on a mound for the first time May 1 and return to major league action by late June or early July.

Santana recently upped his sessions throwing on flat ground from three to four days a week.

The progress "has been great," pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "We've been actually sneaking him back a couple of extra feet each time without him really knowing it, but I think he does know it. The arm is working in great position. He's getting it up. He's missed a day here and there, but he's gone back-to-back because he missed [on] his wife's birthday. We gave him an extra day there. So everything is going right on target, maybe a little bit ahead."

In any rehab, it may not be a smooth progression of recovery. So has Santana had any setbacks? Warthen insisted nothing noteworthy, not since a couple of delays since beginning to toss a baseball in January.

"Ever since then he has not missed any throwing time," Warthen said. "... He's right on time, if not maybe a step or two ahead of that."

According to Warthen, Santana is making 30 throws at 45 feet. He then goes to 70 feet for 40 throws.

At the start of camp, he was throwing 25 throws at 40 feet, waited for a few moments, then did another 25 throws at that distance.

"We're moving back," Warthen said.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.