Johan Santana wants nothing more than a return to normalcy.
For the Mets pitcher, that means beginning his offseason program in January, as he had before injuries knocked him off course. That means carrying his usual workload, eased from the limitations imposed to protect his body. And that means breaking camp next spring with David Wright and R.A. Dickey, their futures with the Mets assured.
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"They're the core of this team and that's what you want to do, you definitely want to keep them," said Santana, who did his part Tuesday in bringing a sense of normalcy to Coney Island, where he aided in ongoing superstorm Sandy relief efforts. "They're great players but also great teammates and friends, and definitely they're very important if we want to compete."
The return of that core remains at the heart of the Mets' top priority this offseason. Talks with both are still ongoing, said COO Jeff Wilpon, who joined Santana Tuesday. He reiterated the team's offseason stance -- that keeping Wright and Dickey are central tenets of the team's long-term plans to contend.
However, he also said the club will keep its options open.
In essence, little has changed for the Mets, who may ultimately be forced to trade both players if long-term deals aren't ironed out before next spring.
Already, they have entertained preliminary trade talks regarding Dickey, a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award. Meanwhile, rival executives believe the Mets might also generate plenty of interest if they choose to explore trades for Wright, the longtime face of the franchise.
But for now, the preferred course appears to be retaining both past the 2013 season. "The team is [making] efforts to keep them," Santana said. "I was told they're making progress so I hope that's the case."
As for Santana's future, the pitcher is hoping for a season free from injury. Though be returned from major shoulder surgery -- punctuating his comeback with the franchise's first no-hitter -- nagging injuries prompted the Mets to shut him down in August.
He has spent the offseason allowing his body to rest before starting his offseason program in January.
"It will be like a normal year, so I'm looking forward to that," said Santana, whose foundation teamed up with the Mets Foundation to donate $25,000 to the relief agency ConeyRecovers.org. "The good thing is that I don't have any problems and I feel good. And we'll see how everything goes."