Santana has long road to recovery

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

FLUSHING, NY - New York Mets left-handed ace Johan Santana has been cleared to begin a rehabilitation program that should have him throwing before the start of spring training.

However, Santana is likely to miss the first half of the season as he recovers from September surgery.

The 31-year-old had the procedure done on his pitching shoulder to fix a torn capsule, which is located on the front and bottom part of the shoulder close to the pectoral muscle.

He was forced to leave his last start versus Atlanta on September 2 with the injury and the surgery took place 12 days later.

Santana was 11-9 with a 2.98 earned-run average in 29 starts last year, his third with the club after signing a six-year deal worth $137.5 million before the 2008 season.


Photos