PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The final test before Johan Santana pitches in his first Grapefruit League game came at the main stadium at Tradition Field, where the Mets' ace threw a 40-pitch live batting-practice session to Josh Thole and Rod Barajas on Thursday.
According to Santana himself, he passed with flying colors.
Prior to his club's Spring Training game against the Cardinals, the 30-year-old left-hander threw to hitters for the first time since Sept. 1 surgery to remove bone chips from his throwing elbow. Santana threw all of his pitches and said, "I feel pretty good."
"I had the mechanics and everything working," added Santana, who had offseason acquisition Chris Coste serving as his catcher. "So to have guys actually swinging the bat in a situation where I was throwing all my pitches like a game, it was good. And I don't feel anything in my arm at all, so that's a good sign."
Santana is scheduled to start his latest Grapefruit League stint on Tuesday, when the Mets host the Astros at 1:10 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. The Venezuela native estimated he'd throw about 45 pitches that afternoon.
Santana had a hard time following through on his pitches while dealing with the elbow problems in 2009, a season that saw him finish 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA in 25 starts. But he was impressed with the way he was able to get some snap on his slider on Thursday and get some swings and misses.
"It was good to see that, to see that action in my slider, going down," Santana said. "And with my changeup also, because I threw one to Barajas where he swung and missed. That's the thing you want to see, and then [to also be able] to command my fastball."
After missing the entire last month of the regular season last year, Santana has been throwing bullpen sessions at the Mets' Spring Training complex since late January. But he felt it was important to face some hitters before getting in his first game.
"The reason why I wanted to throw like this today is because I want to get in a game-situation mode more than just get out there and throw the pitches, because that's the way it's going to be on Tuesday and from now on," Santana said.
"The most important thing is that I felt good, and that I saw all my pitches actually doing what they were supposed to [do]."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.