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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mets News and Notes: Santana, Nitkowski, Byrdak, Hairston

Johan set to throw 80 Pitches Wednesday:

Johan Santana makes his fourth start of the spring Wednesday, and is expected to throw 80 pitches. Santana has recovered from his 65-pitch outing on Saturday, and spent the time in between on improving his fastball command.

He opted for a shortened bullpen session and a lengthened long-toss session this week to focus on achieving full extension on his pitches.

Because the pitch count will approximate what Santana might throw in a regular-season game, today figures to be a solid test. The team is eager to see how Santana’s surgically repaired left shoulder responds to the stress.

“He feels good,” Collins said. “We’ll just see how he gets through it.”

NO NO Nitty:

A deal with left-handed reliever C.J. Nitkowski appears “unlikely,” according to a team official with knowledge of the situation. The team also does not appear interested in any of the other relievers who have recently hit the market, including Dontrelle Willis, Joel Pineiro and Hong-Chi Kuo. The official requested anonymity because no deals had officially been ruled out.

Byrdak Report:

Lefty specialist Tim Byrdak (torn meniscus) is expected to begin the year on the disabled list. Garrett Olson currently leads the pack of southpaws attempting to claim that spot.

Hairston Report:

Reserve outfielder Scott Hairston (strained oblique) played catch and jogged the bases yesterday. Collins said there was a chance Hairston could take batting practice by this weekend — even if Hairston has yet to swing a bat since sustaining his injury near the beginning of camp.

His presence on the Opening Day roster remains in doubt. If he begins the season on the disabled list, right-handed hitting utility man Vinny Rottino appears to be the favorite to replace him.

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