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Johan Santana, with a chip on his shoulder, throws surprise bullpen session

Johan Santana throws before the Mets' spring training

Johan Santana throws before the Mets' spring training game against the Detroit Tigers in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (March 1, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

JUPITER, Fla. -- Johan Santana stopped briefly at his locker in the Mets clubhouse Sunday morning. He was in no mood to chat. But before he made one of his quick exits, Santana dissected the true meaning of spring training.

The final word warranted special emphasis: training.

"That's what I'm doing," said Santana, who appeared irritated a day after team brass questioned his easy offseason throwing program.

As the Mets took a 6-4 loss to the Marlins in Jupiter, Santana stayed behind to play long toss and throw a surprise bullpen session, his first in nearly two weeks.

"He's [ticked] off," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He has every right to be. Today, he went about his job the way he always does, and the way he always will."

The bullpen session came one day after general manager Sandy Alderson said it might be 10 days before Santana would be ready to take such a step.

(Alderson clarified himself Sunday, saying that Santana needed 10 days to be ready for Grapefruit League games).

"Maybe it was a pretty good motivational thing," pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "Arm's getting in shape and [we're] pretty excited about what's happening."

In an era in which most players arrive in camp near peak shape, Santana wanted to use the spring to train. He had planned to use his winter to rest his weary body. After years of ramping up his offseason throwing program, Santana planned to scale down, hoping that less work in the winter might translate to fresher legs in the summer.

But when Santana's surgically repaired shoulder was too weak to handle a pair of early bullpen sessions, Mets officials questioned the wisdom of Santana's winter plan.

Alderson, Warthen and Collins all wondered whether Santana should have done more throwing.

The comments appeared not to sit well with Santana, who avoided extended discussion about the topic as he worked out at the team's spring training complex.

Following an indoor workout, Santana said, "I'm here to get ready for the season."

He later declined to stop to answer any questions altogether, even when asked about Sunday's light bullpen session, his first in nearly two weeks.

Santana, 33, began the day by long tossing with lefthander Pedro Feliciano. With Warthen watching nearby, Santana uncorked throws from up to 180 feet, which had been part of his throwing program. Once finished, Santana joined Feliciano in the bullpen, where he began a brief throwing session off the mound.

Santana made roughly 15 throws, none of them at full intensity, none of them from full distance. Nevertheless, Santana returned to the mound for the first time since Feb. 19, a step forward in his attempt to start on Opening Day.

Collins, who spoke with Santana early in the day, said he didn't feel the need to smooth over the situation with the two-time Cy Young Award winner. Instead, he kept his focus on Santana's ongoing efforts to be ready for the April 1 opener against the Padres.

"If you're asking me if I'm upset about things, I'm not," Collins said. "I've got to move forward. I've got to get ready. That's all I'm looking at. I'm not surprised at anything he does. This guy competes and he's not happy with all the attention that something as minor as that has gotten. And he'll get himself ready."

With David Lennon

New York Sports