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Saturday, February 25, 2012
Gee gets Grapefruit opener for Santana

By Adam Rubin

Dillon Gee will kick off the Mets’ Grapefruit League schedule by starting a March 5 night game against the Washington Nationals, after Johan Santana was pushed back a day, Terry Collins said.

Collins warned not to expect his starters to play very long in that 6:10 p.m. opener, because the Mets have a pair of split-squad day games the following afternoon.

Santana will face the St. Louis Cardinals on March 6 at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie, while right-handed prospect Jeurys Familia gets the road game in Kissimmee against the Houston Astros.

That begins to line up the Mets’ starters for the season, with Santana, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese expected to face the Atlanta Braves to open the regular season, followed by Mike Pelfrey working as the No. 4 starter and then Gee.

Gee along with Frank Francisco, Matt Harvey, Tim Byrdak, Miguel Batista, Daniel Herrera, Jeremy Hefner and Familia threw live batting practice to Mets hitters on Saturday for the first time this spring training. (Gee broke Daniel Murphy’s bat with a changeup.)

Santana, meanwhile, is scheduled to throw his fourth bullpen session of camp Sunday. This one will more closely mimic a game.

Santana will toss 20 to 25 pitches, sit down to replicate the Mets batting, then return to the mound for 15 to 20 additional pitches, according to Collins.

Santana has one long-toss session scheduled after that before throwing batting practice and then slotting into the second day of Grapefruit League play.

• The Mets will make two trips in three days to Lakeland in mid-March to face the Detroit Tigers. The reason for the 130-mile trek?

Collins said the Mets originally were scheduled to travel across the state to face the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers one of those dates, but the Mets decided it was too long a trip -- 140 miles -- if the Red Sox were not going to reciprocate with a visit to Port St. Lucie.

Detroit is making two trips to Digital Domain Park to match the Mets’ hauls to Lakeland.

• A team official said 2011 19th-round pick Dustin Lawley being listed as a catcher in the top-prospects camp that opened Saturday is not a typo. The University of West Florida product, who played 28 games at third base and 25 games in center field last season between Class A Savannah and Kingsport, will be exposed to catching this spring training but is not necessarily making a full-time move.