New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana delivers against the...

New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana delivers against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. (March 26, 2012) Credit: AP

Johan Santana made it over his final on-field hurdle on the path to Opening Day with Saturday morning’s simulated game, which was essentially pitching to Dan Warthen – without a bat in his hand.

Now Santana has to report how he feels Sunday morning before the Mets green light him for Thursday’s opener at Citi Field against the Braves.

“We’ll see how it goes [Sunday],” Santana said. “Once I get here, and go through all the routine, we’ll decide what we’re going to do. But today I had a good day. I warmed up, everything was good, I did a couple ups and downs with my bullpen and I felt great.”

Santana did say his previous start, a five-inning, 88-pitch struggle against the Cardinals, left him a little worn out. But that was to be expected, and Santana was pleased that his body did rebound for Saturday’s tuneup.

“It was a tough day, it was a rough day,” Santana said of that game start earlier in the week. “It was the first time I go over 80 pitches – or even 60, 70. I just felt it a little bit. But I was able to battle through it and throw all my pitches. I recovered and today I’m fine.”

The Mets wanted to keep him out of harm’s way for his last outing, which is why Santana threw in the main stadium’s bullpen to Warthen, who impersonated the likes of Michael Bourn, Brian McCann and Dan Uggla. Terry Collins also watched intently as did R.A. Dickey, Jonathon Niese and Mike Pelfrey.

To this point, Santana has stayed on schedule, with no setbacks, something he could not do last season when he failed to pitch in the majors.

“It’s great, man,” Santana said. “It’s great. I worked hard. And then to be here right now, and be able to do everything the way it was supposed to be done, didn’t miss one day, it’s huge for me.”

“But we still have to work. We’re not done yet. We’re just in the beginning of everything. The season hasn’t even started. I have to get into a season and that’s what we’re looking forward to, but as of right now, everything has been good and I feel great.”

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