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Warthen: Santana might pitch this year

Mets pitcher Johan Santana in the Mets clubhouse

Mets pitcher Johan Santana in the Mets clubhouse at Digital Domain Stadium in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Feb. 17, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

MIAMI -- Pitching coach Dan Warthen watched Johan Santana throw a simulated game Friday in Port St. Lucie and said he expects him to pitch for the Mets this year.

"With the progress he's shown," Warthen said, "he should be able to do that, if everyone thinks that's the best thing to do."

Santana threw 43 pitches in three innings and is scheduled to have a side session Sunday with the Mets at Sun Life Stadium. That would set up a potential minor-league start later in the week.

Terry Collins has avoided giving many details and didn't even want to commit to Sunday's session. "He's supposed to," he said, "but he is on his own program."

David Wright faced Santana twice during his own rehab at the club's minor-league complex. The second time, in a live BP session, Wright noticed significant improvement.

"The stuff's there," he said. "I just think that little extra oomph isn't quite there at this time, but that's expected. He threw the ball better on Tuesday than he did the time I faced him the week prior to that. Threw harder, better stuff, better life on his pitches. There's no question that he's building momentum."

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