PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Talk to Johan Santana about his five strikeouts on Saturday, and he'll shrug. Talk to him about the four runs he allowed, and he'll vow to do better. His expression, in either case, won't change.
But with the DH now disallowed, talk to him about his feeble groundout in his first at-bat of the spring, and Santana will positively beam.
"At least I made contact," he grinned. "I didn't strike out. It was a little weird, but it's part of the game and I've got to adjust to it. Those are the little things that I'll have to learn how to do."
The Mets will be happy with the big things for now. Santana lasted five innings in Saturday's game against the Cardinals, allowing those four runs -- three earned -- and serving up four extra-base hits.
Still, he finished strong -- Santana struck out two of the final three batters he faced -- and remained pleased with what he considered an improving slider.
"We're making progress," Santana said. "All my pitches are there."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.