The Mets left-hander allowed one hit over three scoreless innings in a rehab start Sunday as the short-season Brooklyn Cyclones posted a rain-shortened 8-0 blanking of the Auburn Doubledays.
Sidelined since July 20 with a sprained right ankle, Santana walked one batter and struck out three. After retiring his first four batters, he issued a one-out walk in the second to Craig Manuel and gave up a two-out single to Mike McQuillan. Wes Schill grounded out to end that threat, and Santana exited after a perfect third.
"I felt pretty good," he told Newsday. "I was able to finally get on a mound and face some hitters."
Santana threw 27 of 37 pitches for strikes, then threw some 50 more in a postgame bullpen session. He's expected to rejoin the Mets and face Atlanta on Saturday night at Citi Field.
"My whole right side feels good," he told the newspaper. "Even though my ankle was what was bothering me, I was able to rest my whole body. That's something I really needed."
After missing all of last season following shoulder surgery, the 33-year-old left-hander is 6-7 with a 3.98 ERA in 19 starts. Santana has lost his last three decisions and has a 6.54 ERA since pitching the first no-hitter in Mets' history on June 1.
Julian Hilario (1-3) followed Santana on the mound Sunday and yielded three hits over five innings to get the win. First-round pick Kevin Plawecki led the Cyclones' offense with three hits, two RBIs and two runs scored.