PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mets manager Terry Collins said he expects Johan Santana to pitch in a game in about a week and still could be on track to be New York’s opening-day starter.
“I’m not getting caught up in Opening Day right now,” said Collins. “A lot of it will be determined in the next few days, how he comes out of his start, where he’s at when he comes out of it. As I’ve continued to say, we’re not worried about April 1. We’re worried about him making 30 starts.”
Santana took another step forward in a light bullpen Wednesday. It was the second time on a mound for the ace since Feb. 19, after which his workload was backed down over concerns his arm strength wasn’t where it needed to be.
“He’s scheduled to get on the mound (in a game) in about seven days, and I think he’s going to make that,” Collin said. “All signs are pointing to him being ready. All signs are pointing that his arm is getting the strength it needs. He’s happy with the way he feels, he’s happy with the way he’s throwing, so it’s a major step forward for us.”
Santana spent time Wednesday morning with his countrymen on the Venezuelan team, which originally he had hoped to play for in the WBC. Team Venezuela also had hoped to have him on its roster.
“He’s one of the biggest names in our country,” Carlos Gonzalez said. “We all wish he was here, but we understand the situation. He needs to get back healthy and get back to his game.”
Venezuela now heads to the WBC. The team plays the Dominican Republic in a first-round Pool C game Thursday in San Juan.
“Knowing him, he’s dying to be in,” said Francisco Rodriguez. “But at the same time, he does understand that he has a big responsibility this year with the Mets, so it’s hard to be in his shoes and be able to make a type of commitment. I know he’s itching to be here right now.”
NOTES: Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia, who was scratched from Tuesday’s “B” game appearance and sent to New York to visit team doctors, is being examined for a thyroid issue. Mejia already was a little behind after his arrival to camp from the Dominican Republic was delayed because his visa was flagged for an apparent random identity check. He allowed five runs, four earned, in one inning in his lone Grapefruit League appearance. . Marlon Byrd, getting a rare start in center field, capped a seven-run fifth inning for the Mets with a three-run homer. . Unsigned free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez, who is on the Venezuelan roster, said Wednesday he would like to come back to the Mets, the team he pitched for prior to a 2011 midseason trade with Milwaukee. “I think about once again to be able to come back and redeem myself, that would be great. I have to be realistic and honest. You would have to be real blind to see I fell when I was there. That’s not even a question. To be able to get one more shot and go back and get it done, that would be great.” Rodriguez said he hopes to show in the WBC that he is healthy and ready to step back in somewhere as a closer.
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