Given the connection between Johan Santana and Henry Blanco, it will be interesting to see if the Mets' new backup becomes a personal catcher of sorts for the two-time Cy Young winner - just as he was for Greg Maddux for two seasons in Atlanta.

But Blanco, at 38, is getting up there in age, and when I told him that Omar Minaya suggested he would catch perhaps two times a week, he replied, "Yeah, two ... maybe one." If that one time is Santana, it would make sense, considering that Santana credits Blanco for helping him win his first Cy Young in 2004 when both we were with the Twins.

Some other stuff that didn't make it into the newspaper/web site yesterday:

Gary Matthews Jr. talking about his first go-round with the Mets, is 2002, when he was surrounded in the spring training clubhouse by "legends" that he listed as Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn, John Franco and Al Leiter. Interesting group. Legends? Alomar deserved to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer before he was dissed this winter, but it looks like Matthews is prone to hyperbole with those others.

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As for Matthews' bid for the CF job, Manuel did declare it a "wide open competition." And in what will be a continuing theme for the lame-duck manager, he was asked by a visiting TV crew about his own status again yesterday, to which he poked fun at the clock ticking when Opening Day kicks off.

"Not to say I don't want to get off to a quick start," Manuel said, laughing, "Believe me, I want to get off to a good start."