While Warthen hasn't witnessed the throwing, he was told by Santana over the phone he has already thrown three times. If true, it would be a major hurdle in his recovery and put a possible return in the second half well within consideration.
The Mets plan to be cautious with Santana, who has a reputation for being bull-dogged at the expense of his health, especially in the last four years.
"I just don't want him, because of who he is, to push himself to try to get there too early and have another setback," Warthen said. "We knew two years ago when he had the bone chips that he wasn't ready to come out. We had to talk him into that. And even last year he wasn't going to go out in that game [against the Braves]. That's who Johan is. Common sense has to prevail somewhere."
Even if Santana can return early on, don't expect him to do well right from the outset.
"Generally speaking, you're going to find two good [games], two bad," Warthen said of when a pitcher returns from surgery. "You're going to hit a dead spot. You're going to throw and, 'Oh my god. I feel good. Everything's great.' And then all of a sudden you'll come out there one day and it doesn't throw the same. The muscles don't react the same. Not that you're sore. It just doesn't have that full strength each and every time."
The good news is Santana should be over this hump in time for the 2012 season after pitching in the fall and training in the offseason. And he'll do it around what is likely to be a new-look Mets team.
-- Evan Brunell