Johan Santana could be cleared for rehab start next week

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Johan Santana is about 10 months removed from shoulder surgery and Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that he might be ready for a return to game action in the minors.

Santana threw a three-inning simulated game today and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday, at which point the Mets could clear him to begin a rehab assignment.

Prior to coming off the disabled list today David Wright faced Santana while rehabbing a back injury of his own in Florida and gave Rubin a pretty encouraging scouting report on the two-time Cy Young winner’s status:

The stuff’s there. I just think that little extra oomph isn’t quite there at this time, but that’s expected. … There’s no question he’s building momentum.

Various reports throughout the past few months have pegged mid-August as the goal for Santana returning to the majors and that certainly looks plausible now. However, with two years and $55 million remaining on Santana’s contract there isn’t a ton of difference between his rejoining the rotation in mid-August or even for just a few starts in September. As long as he heads into the offseason healthy and with some reps against big-league hitters under his belt the Mets should be happy. So far so good.