Johan Santana on return timetable: “Tough for me to guess”

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Johan Santana is three weeks into his offseason throwing program and has advanced to long-tossing from 110 feet, but the two-time Cy Young award winner’s status for Opening Day remains uncertain 16 months after shoulder surgery.

During a conference call yesterday Santana told reporters that his shoulder “feels fine” and “everything is fine,” but then added:

It’s going to be tough for me to guess [about being ready for Opening Day] because I don’t know how I’m going to feel in two months. I’m going to follow everything the way that they want me to do and we’ll see how it feels. I cannot tell you what’s going to happen in five, six weeks from now. I’ll be lying to you. I’ve got to go one day at a time.

All of which sounds reasonable, but doesn’t really jibe with the fact that Santana was on the verge of returning to the Mets last September before a setback caused him to delay his comeback and eventually shut things down instead. If he was truly close to being game ready back in September then he should have plenty of time to be game ready by spring training, let alone by Opening Day.

Clearly, though, either Santana was nowhere near where he should have been for a comeback to be a smart, realistic option in September or his setback was more significant than the Mets let on at the time. Whatever the case, for him to be merely long-tossing 16 months after surgery isn’t the timetable the Mets were hoping for when he went under the knife and Santana remains a huge question mark for 2012 while being owed $55 million for the next two seasons.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.