Santana set for second bullpen on Sunday

Santana set for second bullpen on Sunday

SAN FRANCISCO -- Johan Santana threw his first full bullpen session Thursday since landing on the disabled list last month with a sprained right ankle. Santana is scheduled to throw another bullpen on Sunday, before returning to the Mets during their homestand next week.

Though Collins was not ready to set a specific date for Santana's return, that schedule would put him in line to pitch Wednesday against the Marlins. The Mets will settle on a date once they see how Santana feels following his two bullpen sessions in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

"I absolutely do not [expect him to have any issues]," Collins said. "He's fine."

One byproduct of Santana's injury is that it has given him a lengthy midseason opportunity to rest his surgically repaired left shoulder. Collins said earlier this week that Santana's shoulder felt "great," which could pay dividends on the mound; since throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history June 1, Santana has gone 3-5 with a 6.54 ERA.

The Mets also must make a decision regarding when -- or whether -- to use R.A. Dickey on three days' rest, an experiment they have all but committed themselves to. How the team uses Dickey in August will have a significant impact on Santana and the rest of the rotation.