Mets Spring Training 2012: Terry Collins Addresses Media; Talks Johan Santana, Lineup, Bullpen

The New York Mets 2012 Spring Training official began Monday, as pitchers and catchers were expected to report to Port St. Lucie, FL, but manager Terry Collins addressed the media for the first time early Tuesday morning and, of course, the biggest topic was the recovery of Johan Santana, who's expected to throw later in the day.

"In my mind, he'll be ready (for Opening Day)," said Collins.

Collins also talked Mets' Opening Day lineup, saying he expects new center fielder Andres Torres to be the leadoff hitter, while second baseman Daniel Murphy is expected to hit second.

However, the primary battles in Spring Training will be at catcher, between Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas, and for bench play. Thole is expected to be the Opening Day starter, unless Nickeas can begin to hit on a consistent basis.

The bullpen will feature: Frank Francisco as the closer, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, lefty Tim Byrdak and Manny Acosta with two slots available.

"The crux of the message is obvious -- that we're better than people think we are," the manager said. "... It's human nature to say, 'Wow, we've got a challenge on our hands."

"If David [Wright] thought I got red in the meeting last year, wait until he sees this one."

The Mets will play their first Spring Training game on Monday, March 5 against the Washington Nationals. For a complete schedule, click here.

For more coverage of the Mets, visit our blog Amazin' Avenue. If you'd like more on baseball's Spring Training, check out the SB Nation's Baseball Nation.

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