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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mets will make decision Sunday if Johan Santana will start opener

Saturday morning Mets Pitching Coach Dan Warthen was doing his best impressions of Atlanta's batters and Santana was delivering the pitches. Though Santana was still not ready to christen himself ready for Opening Day after his penultimate tuneup of the spring, an up-and-down bullpen session at Port St. Lucie, the Mets plan to make a final decision on Sunday.

If Santana does not pitch Opening Day against the Braves, he will almost certainly take the mound for the fifth game of the season against the Nationals.

"I'm not going to sacrifice six months, I'm not going to sacrifice the last two years of him working his butt off for one start, to have him pitch Opening Day," manager Terry Collins said. "We're going to sit down with a number of people involved and make the correct decision."

In what Warthen called a "free and easy" bullpen session Saturday morning, Santana threw 39 warmups and another 32 game-situation pitches in his final extended outing of the spring. All that's left for the left-hander is to wake up Sunday and gauge the health of his surgically repaired left shoulder, before throwing his final bullpen session on Monday.

Assuming nothing unexpected happens between now and then, Santana will follow that with his first regular-season appearance since Sept. 2, 2010. Once he does pitch, be it on Opening Day or a few days later, two months' worth of bullpen sessions, game outings and pitch counts will no longer seem to matter.

"This is just one stage to go through, Spring Training," Santana said. "Now, we've got to go through that consistency in the regular season."

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