When asked if he was OK after Tuesday's 29-pitch outing, the smiling Santana replied that he was fine, then headed to the field for conditioning drills. The plan is for Santana to throw a bullpen Thursday, but Sandy Alderson left open the possibility he could wait a day and still stay on schedule for Sunday's start against Miami.
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"We'll see how he feels," Alderson said before the Mets' 7-0 win over the Marlins. "It's possible that his workout will be tailored to how he feels, but we won't know that until [Thursday]."
The Mets want Santana to make four more starts to line him up for Opening Day, which is April 5 at Citi Field.
A change for Niese?
A new nose is not the only difference with Jon Niese this year. After throwing two scoreless innings, and striking out two, Niese said that he's been working to perfect a changeup. Using his own modified grip -- like the one for a four-seam fastball but only using three fingers -- Niese believes that he's added another weapon for the upcoming season.
"If I do that," Niese said, "I can give hitters a lot more to look at."
For someone who already has an effective cutter and curveball, that's a great bonus, and Terry Collins approved.
"I think the changeup is the best pitch in baseball," Collins said. "If you can locate your fastball like Jon can, and you've got a change to go with it, you're going to be pretty effective."
Justin turning heads
With his roster spot virtually guaranteed, Justin Turner certainly didn't hurt his cause with a 3-for-3 performance against the Marlins that included a home run and three RBIs. As of now, he's a backup at every infield position.
"Last year, he showed everybody he belongs in the big leagues," Collins said. "He can play anywhere in the infield, which is going to be huge for us. He's the perfect guy to have on this club."
Scott Hairston still had three black X's on his lower left side marking where the three cortisone shots were administered Monday. He was hoping to feel a little better by now, but knew it would be a few days before the shots took effect. "I'd rather have it now than on March 31," Hairston said . . . Jose Reyes did not play against the Mets because he was in the lineup for the Marlins' game at their new stadium later Wednesday night. For that reason, Reyes is not expected to face the Mets on Thursday in Port St. Lucie either.