PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets officials stopped short Saturday of blaming Johan Santana's shoulder fatigue on his decision to lighten his offseason workload, playing down rumblings that the organization was displeased when the one-time ace arrived in camp unprepared to pitch.
But as Santana's chances of starting the season opener appear to diminish by the day, officials asserted that he would have been better served by doing more work in the offseason.
"I've been doing this for years," Santana said earlier in the day before published reports brought his offseason plans under increased scrutiny. "I know what it takes. And that's what I'm doing right now -- getting ready for the season, not for spring training. I'm very focused. I know exactly what I have to do, so that's what I'm doing."
Santana has not worked off a mound since Feb. 19, when noticeable fatigue in his surgically-repaired left shoulder prompted the team to put the brakes on his throwing program.
Alderson also insisted that Santana's arm is healthy and that the Mets have no plans for further tests.
But more signs emerged that Santana not only might miss his assignment on April 1 but might begin the season on the disabled list if he doesn't show enough progress in the final weeks of camp.
Santana, who is continuing on a long-tossing program, had been on track to throw a live batting practice session during the team's off day Tuesday. But that session has been scrubbed and Alderson said Santana will need at least 10 days before he's cleared to throw off a mound.
"I think there was an expectation that when he came in, he'd be ready to pitch," Alderson said. "But I think that was his expectations too, regardless of the winter that he had. I don't think there was disagreement; I don't think there was a disappointment on our part or an acceptance on his part that that's the way it would be. But it was clear over the first few days he wasn't ready. So we're going to get him ready."
Santana planned all along to ease up on his offseason throwing. The 33-year-old endured fatigue until August, when the team shut him down as he dealt with a flurry of nagging injuries, completing a decline that began promptly after he threw his June 1 no-hitter.
After recent offseasons spent rehabbing from physical ailments, Santana hoped to give his body a break, and the Mets seemed willing to trust his judgment. According to Collins, the Mets were aware of Santana's plan to ease up on his throwing as he approached the offseason.
"Going into the winter time, he was to rest," Collins said.
Because of Santana's lighter throwing schedule, Warthen said the Mets had even expected him to arrive short of what he called "full pitching shape." But what they didn't expect was that Santana would arrive at camp so far behind.
"Maybe it was his misinterpretation that we didn't expect a whole bunch from him," Warthen said. "I think he could have probably thrown a little bit more."
After two lackluster bullpen sessions during which Santana showed diminished arm speed, Alderson said his lack of preparedness had become "self-evident."
"From my standpoint, it should have been closer to normal than his previous winter," Alderson said. "But that's a judgment ultimately he has to make about how he's feeling and about what he thinks he needs to do to be ready.
"But again, that's in the rearview mirror. At this point, we're getting him ready to pitch, and we expect that he'll be ready relatively soon."
Collins acknowledged "a variance of opinion" regarding Santana's desire to ease his offseason workload. He also wondered if Santana was caught off guard by his condition at the start of camp.
Said Collins: "I think when he came in, he was probably himself a little more surprised his shoulder wasn't quite as ready as he thought it would be."
With David Lennon