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Collins talks to Johan about taking it slow

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A day after Johan Santana surprised most of Mets camp by throwing off a mound well ahead of schedule, manager Terry Collins approached Santana to tell him his aggressiveness was "unnecessary."

"In retrospect, he knows he should have handled it a little bit differently," Collins said. "But he was fine, and he wanted to show everybody he was fine."

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Santana appeared visibly agitated in the clubhouse Sunday morning, a day after general manager Sandy Alderson acknowledged his disappointment that Santana did not arrive at Mets camp in better shape. Alderson said Saturday that Santana was roughly 10 days away from taking a mound -- words that Collins believes motivated the left-hander to prove everyone wrong.

Calling Santana's bullpen session an unnecessary risk, the manager was displeased that he jumped so far ahead of his schedule in apparent response to criticism.

"I just said, 'Look, we're going to do this the right way,'" Collins said of his chat with Santana, who is battling left shoulder weakness. "'We're not going to hurt you. We're not going to get you injured. I don't care how upset you are about things, we're going to do this the proper way. April 1 is only a date on the calendar. It doesn't mean anything if you're not ready.'"

Santana is still aiming to start Opening Day for the Mets on April 1. The team hopes he can make his Grapefruit League debut at some point next week, putting him in line for three exhibition starts prior to the regular season.

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