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Terry Collins said yesterday that he doesn't expect Johan Santana to pitch in a Grapefruit League game this week, meaning it's more and more likely he will start the season on the disabled list, as well.

In the event Santana isn't ready, Jon Niese will be the Opening Day starting pitcher, Collins explained.

Niese has allowed one earned run on six hits with five walks in 12 2/3 innings this spring.

Niese has looked really strong this spring - he seems to have picked up right where he left off last year. In fact, he is one of the very few players that isn't a question mark heading into the regular season.

As for Santana, my gut says it will be at least mid-April before he is activated. Yes, he's doing long-toss and building up strength, but he needs to be able to throw a bullpen, go through some normal cycles at camp, and then start building innings in games; there's just not enough time left for him to do that during Spring Training, and that assumes everything is smooth sailing from now on.

Tags: MetsBlog , Matthew Cerrone
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