- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A day after Terry Collins broached the possiblity of Jonathon Niese starting on Opening Day and Johan Santana waiting until the third game of the season to start, Santana was asked if he is "fully confident" he can break camp with the team and avoid the DL.
"That's what I'm working on," Santana told ESPNNewYork.com.
New York Mets
But how much confidence does he have?
"It's too early," Santana said. "We'll just go one day at a time."
Santana, who has been backed off mound work because of what is being labeled shoulder fatigue, has been long tossing at distances beyond 100 feet. He plans to again do so Sunday.
The Mets optimally want Santana to throw batting practice Tuesday and enter Grapefruit League action by March 10 or 11 to be ready for Opening Day, but Santana is not locked into that schedule.
"We'll see," Santana said. "I'll go one day at a time. It depends on how I feel. So tomorrow there is another one [long-tossing session] and we'll go from there, see how it feels."
The Mets have suggested Santana may need four spring-training starts to be ready, but Santana downplayed that number.
"It's all about pitch count," Santana said. "If you go 50, 60, 70 pitches, you should be there. That's what we're working on more than innings or anything. It's more about arm strength and making sure all the pitches are there."
Santana said he does feel more life in his shoulder while long tossing now as opposed to early in camp.
"It's much better," he said. "That's what I'm doing right now, long tossing and getting stronger. I know what I have to do once I get on the mound, but I just have to have my strength in my shoulder. After that, once I get on the mound, it's just about putting it all together."
As for the actual importance of starting Opening Day, Santana added: "I haven't done it for a few years. It's something nice. But, at this time, I just worry about getting ready. April 1 is still a long way to go."