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01/14/11 3:28 PM EST

Mets medical staff clears Johan for rehab

NEW YORK -- Johan Santana visited Mets medical staff in New York this week and has been cleared to begin a rehab program "which will have him throwing before the start of Spring Training," according to a team spokesman.

Santana, 31, had been sidelined since undergoing September surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. His original rehab schedule called for him to begin playing catch in January, leading the spokesman to say, "It's about where we're supposed to be."

General manager Sandy Alderson and Santana's agent, Peter Greenberg, did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

In the third season of his six-year, $137.5 million contract, Santana finished 11-9 with a 2.98 ERA before missing the season's final month with his shoulder injury. Though there is no concrete timetable for his return, the Mets do not expect him back until around midseason.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.