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Around the NL East: Johan Santana ready for Opening Day?

<a href=”http://msn.foxsports.com/video?videoid=7e6c3f4f-20d2-4fe0-9df4-e03082c93bb6&src=v5:embed::” target=’_new’ title=’Mets' Santana, Collins optimistic’ >Video: Mets' Santana, Collins optimistic</a>

“Suave, amigos. Everything is under control.”

Those were the words of New York Mets starting pitcher Johana Santana Tuesday after throwing for the second time this spring off the mound. Santana has shoulder surgery in September of 2010, causing him to miss the entire 2011 season as a result.

“In my mind right now, in my heart, he’ll be ready,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “I don’t think there’s any question. This guy has worked so hard in the last 18 months to get ready, I think he’s going to be ready, I really do.”

Santana agrees.

“Opening day’s always good,” Santana said. “But again, I’m approaching everything one day at a time. Going through everything last year, one day you feel good and another you don’t feel good, it’s like a roller coaster.”

The New York Mets may be in for another long season, but right now there is some optimism coming out of Port St. Lucie surrounding the status of starting pitcher Johan Santana. Collins believes Santana will be ready for opening day and expects his team to be a lot better than most baseball fans and analysts suspect. He even suggested that there will be a Jeremy Lin type of player on his own roster, a player who will take everyone by surprise.

“We don’t know who it’s going to be yet,” Collins said. “But every good team, there’s a surprise.”

The financially hampered Mets made some pay cuts in the off-season, including making the decision to let shortstop Jose Reyes go in free agency (Miami Marlins). Trade rumors involving third baseman David Wright continued throughout the off-season, including some talk about the Phillies finding a way to acquire the corner infielder to replace Placido Polanco.

The Mets paid Santana $22.5 million in 2011, without a single pitch to show for it. This season Santana’s salary increases to $24 million, and he is due $25.5 million in 2013. Santana is 5-2 with a 3.70 ERA in 11 starts against the Phillies in his career, with 15 home runs allowed and 59 strikeouts and 1.082 WHIP.

If healthy the Mets could create some noise in the NL East this season. Injuries have probably played more of a role in their recent struggles more than anything else. A major league team can only go so far with young talent thrown in to starting jobs, although underachieving players have certainly been well-documented. The Mets need Wright and Jason Bay to live up to their potential, and new lead off batter Andres Torres (center field) can bring similar speed that is lost in Reyes at the top of the lineup.

Could the Mets be good? Sure. Are they NL East contenders? Probably not this year, but do not expect them to be pushovers either.

Hype this up on BallHyped.

Quotes provided by AP (via Yahoo! Sports).

Photo credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images | Video credit: FOXSports.com | Stats, Contract Info: Baseball Reference

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