- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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New York Mets
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins said Johan Santana, who has been backed off mound work for the time being, looks stronger throwing on flat ground.
"I told him already today: He looked better today than he did five days ago," Collins said. "I think the long-toss program is making strides."
The Mets need to get Santana in a Grapefruit League game by March 10 or 11 in order to get him four spring-training starts and ready for Opening Day.
If Santana were to open the season on the disabled list, Jeremy Hefner and Collin McHugh would be the most serious considerations, with Zack Wheeler technically in the consideration set. Collins said he also likes Rafael Montero, but it's not practical because of a 40-man roster crunch (along with the fact Montero has not pitched above Class A). Montero is not on the 40-man roster.