By Ed Coleman
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Mets manager Terry Collins made one thing perfectly clear on Tuesday when he addressed the media on the eve of 2012 spring training – he realizes that most observers don’t expect very much from his team this season, but Collins indeed does.

Yes, Collins is an admitted optimist, but he truly believes his club will be better than people think.

One reason that Collins has unbridled enthusiasm at this early juncture: he believes that Johan Santana will be his Opening Day starter.

In addition, there’s a huge incentive to having Santana start the season at the top of the rotation.

And on top of that, Santana means so much to his fellow pitchers and teammates.

A drastically reduced payroll, fan apathy, lowered expectations – it all adds up to getting out of the gate quickly very crucial for the 2012 Mets.

And even though it doesn’t appear that close, Collins contends that help is on the way.

As for Santana, he was very sharp in a 29-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday. At one point, pitching coach Dan Warthen, standing in the box as a lefty batter while Santana threw, exclaimed “save that for September” after a particularly nasty pitch. Johan took everything in his usual Santana-esque style.

And what has he learned while riding that injury roller coaster the last couple of seasons?

And does Santana have a message for Met fans as spring training is about to commence?

Other news – at least 10 members of the 1986 World Championship club will attend a memorial service for late teammate Gary Carter on Friday night in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Many current Mets as well as front office members will also be in attendance.

Mookie Wilson will be remaining with the organization. Wilson will have a dual role – ambassador for various charitable and team-related functions, as well as an instructor for all minor league levels in addition to work during spring training.

Pitchers and catchers first official workout on Wednesday in P.S.L.

Do you share Collins’ optimism? Let Eddie C. know in the comments below…

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