Johan Santana lasted only 1 2/3 innings in his Grapefruit League debut, giving up six hits and four runs, including a solo homer to Kaz Matsui. But Santana's primary concern was the health of  his left elbow after having bone chips removed last September and that was not an issue in his first start since Aug. 20.

"I know the numbers are whatever, but I don’t really care," Santana said. "I just care about how I feel and everything I was able to do today."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Santana already has great command of his changeup and used one to whiff Michael Bourn to open the game. His fastball, however, was a little off. Matsui followed Bourn by whacking an inside fastball deep over the leftfield wall.

"I have to make sure that all my mechanics and the way I release the ball is consistent," Santana said. "Today I threw some fastballs that were all  right and some fastballs that kind of ran away. It’s something that I’m able to tell and to see and feel that is not there on a consistent basis. As we go in spring training, and throw bullpens, we’ll get better."

When Oliver Perez labored through a similar outing on Sunday, the crowd at Tradition Field harassed him with taunts. That didn't happen to  Santana, a two-time Cy Young winner. Plus, he had an old friend behind the plate for him in fellow Venezuelan Henry Blanco, who was his catcher for his '04 Cy Young season in Minnesota.

"They were good memories," Blanco said. "I'm happy that the guy is healthy. Things will get better."