Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets wipes sweat...

Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets wipes sweat from his face against the Minnesota Twins at Citi Field. (June 26, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Expect to see a different Johan Santana when he takes the mound Thursday night in Washington. Or at least a Santana that can't be figured out quite so easily as last Saturday against the Twins.

That's because Santana, who apparently tipped his changeup against his former team, has worked since then with pitching coach Dan Warthen on his delivery. The key is keeping his glove lower, or more hidden, at the start, a method Santana had employed during his 19-inning scoreless streak this season.

Often, a pitcher will "fan" his glove when trying to get his hand completely around the ball, an obvious tip of a changeup. Santana has done it in the past, but coming off elbow surgery this year, he hasn't overcome it. Santana is 1-3 with a 5.96 ERA in his last four starts.

"His stuff is getting better," Warthen said, "and if we can keep him from tipping, I think we'll start to see the Johan of old."

Warthen videotaped Santana's work this week, then showed experts on tipping - Alex Cora, Fernando Tatis and Henry Blanco - to see if they could pick up anything. Santana passed. "For years I had tendencies of either tipping pitches or always something different. I don't really think about it when I'm pitching." Ollie vs. Takahashi

With Hisanori Takahashi struggling, and Oliver Perez beginning his rehab, Jerry Manuel was asked if Takahashi could lose his job to Perez.

"I didn't really think of it in that sense," Manuel said. "Ollie could be a guy that could fit well in the pen . . . we'll probably have to make a decision as to what might be best for the team."

Perez made his first rehab start last night for St. Lucie and allowed five hits and four runs in six innings. He walked one and struck out seven . . . Carlos Beltran went 2-4 with an RBI for St. Lucie (A). He had one putout in nine innings in centerfield.

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