TC eyes 4 Grapefruit appearances for Johan

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins said his staff has outlined a plan to get Johan Santana four spring-training starts, all on an extra day of rest, to line the left-hander up for Opening Day.

The manager said Santana ideally would have outings of 45 pitches, 60, 75 and 90-95 pitches leading into the regular season.

Collins said he sensed Santana was not ready for early Grapefruit League action after watching the southpaw's first two times on a mound. Santana faulted an inability to get loose in his first session on unseaonably cold weather in Port St. Lucie. But on a warmer day when Santana returned to the mound, Collins said, Santana had a noticeable lack of arm strentgh and no feel for his changeup.

"He didn't have the arm speed," Collins said. "You could just tell."

Collins said he is not alarmed that Santana's shoulder is weaker than at this point last spring training. His reasoning was consistent with other Mets officials Friday -- that Santana had been given a good deal of time off during the winter from throwing when contrasted with a year ago.