By Ed Coleman
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Johan Santana is still the one.
Amidst a sea of doubts about whether he would make it through spring training and even be in the Mets rotation for 2012, Santana was officially tabbed as the Opening Day starter on Sunday.
What did it mean to Santana?
Last spring, Johan was rehabbing and always felt like he was on the outside looking in. It was very important to him to break camp with the team this season and lead the rotation.
Santana also cautioned that he is still in the midst of a long-term process.
Manager Terry Collins was ecstatic about delivering the news, and said that Santana is one of a kind, a different animal.
Collins was very confident that Santana could do it, but just in case, there was a backup plan.
So now, what does Collins think of his rotation?
R.A. Dickey had his final tuneup for the season on Sunday, going 4 innings while allowing just one run on a mammoth home run to the Tigers’ Prince Fielder. Dickey struck out 3 and did not issue a walk, and deemed Santana’s news a huge psychological lift for the team.
Dickey will follow Santana in the Mets’ rotation, and early on Santana’s pitch count will be closely monitored. That will probably mean heavier bullpen usage when Santana pitches, thus Dickey will likely have to go longer and deeper into games. And that’s just fine with him.
Overall, the knuckleballer had a very good spring (1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 5 outings).
Dickey was spiked while covering first base on a play against the Tigers Sunday, an injury that required two stitches, but he’ll be fine for his start on Saturday against Atlanta.
There was a story recently floated that the Mets were considering releasing Mike Pelfrey off yet another dismal spring, but Collins refuted that and maintained that Pelfrey will slot in as his No. 4 starter to begin the season.
Jon Niese will follow Santana and Dickey as the No. 3 starter, and Niese and the Mets are close on signing a long-term deal that will bypass a couple of years of free agency. The deal could reach five years with options — Niese will not be a free agent until after the 2015 season.
Left-handed reliever Josh Edgin was voted the newcomer of the year for spring training, edging out Jordany Valdespin, and with good reason. Collins said that Edgin was most definitely an attention-getter at camp.
Edgin will be the closer at Double-A Binghamton to begin the season, and Collins reiterated that he’s on the fast track.
Edgin ended his spring with 1 2/3 scoreless innings against Detroit on Sunday – he struck out 13 batters in 10 1/3 innings overall without allowing a run.
Center fielder Andres Torres again played on the minor league side on Sunday, but had another encouraging day while recovering from a calf injury. Collins felt that Torres should be ready to lead off for the Mets on Opening Day, and will likely play against the Yankees on Tuesday in Port St. Lucie.
The bullpen was again shaky against Detroit. Daniel Herrera was charged with 5 runs, Jon Rauch 3, in a 9-2 loss to the Tigers. Rauch yielded a grand slam in a 7-run Tiger 6th inning. Several relievers will pitch two innings apiece when the Mets travel to Disney on Monday to face the Braves.
The Mets’ spring record fell to a dismal 7-19 with the loss.
C U soon
What’s your prediction for Santana in 2012? Sound off in the comments below…