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The Mets officially denied Johan Santana's request to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, Sandy Alderson told reporters today.

"He wants to play. We know that," Alderson explained. "But, under the circumstances, we don't think it's in his best interest or ours. ... We think that he will be better served with a full, routine, progressive spring training as opposed to the accelerated program the WBC would represent."

Yesterday at Tradition Field, Santana threw a bullpen session off the mound. Terry Collins later said Santana will make his first Grapefruit League start on March 2.

"You don't have too many opportunities to represent your country in an event like that," Santana said, according to ESPN New York. "I feel bad about it. At the same time, I understand everything that they're saying and they're doing. There's not much I can do about it."

Santana missed the entire 2011 season because of surgery on his throwing shoulder.

2:02 PM: According to SNY's Matt Dunn, Santana was preparing to pitch in the WBC, since it was something he really wanted to do.

Santana says he will now prepare for the regular season, and will soon talk with Terry Collins and the staff about a new plan of attack.

The moment Sandy Alderson's questions his team's chances to be in a pennant race this summer, I expect he’ll start shopping Santana; but only if Johan is pitching well and looking strong. To do that, I think they’re going to get him early rest and pace his performance. Johan will have value if he looks good and the Mets are willing to eat most of his remaining salary, which I think they will. Teams are more likely to pay for a guy like Santana than a hitter, when in a pennant race, and this front office knows that. But, Santana first needs to go slow and create confidence he’ll be capable for a contendor in the second half… not pitching in the WBC is the first smart step.

Tags: MetsBlog , Matthew Cerrone
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