Collins' focus on Johan, not hyped matchup

Collins' focus on Johan, not hyped matchup

NEW YORK -- Most baseball fans will be interested in watching Johan Santana vs. Stephen Strasburg, a two-time Cy Young Award winner against perhaps the most-hyped pitching prospect in history.

Terry Collins is more interested in Santana vs. himself.

"I'm only looking forward to seeing Johan pitch," the Mets manager said of Wednesday's series finale against the Nationals. "That's where my concern is. The baseball fan in me certainly everybody likes to see the best players play, and I'm interested in seeing [Strasburg] in a game situation. I know he's got great stuff. We saw it in Spring Training. But my focus is my guy, not the matchup itself."

Collins is particularly interested in seeing how Santana will bounce back after throwing 84 pitches on Opening Day, the second time this year he has thrown more than 80 in a game. The last time he did so, during Spring Training, Santana experienced extreme soreness in his surgically repaired left shoulder and needed painkillers to proceed. It helps that Santana will start Wednesday on an extra day of rest, as he will for six of his first seven starts.

"It worked out good," Santana said, noting that he enjoyed his first complete off-day since February last Friday. "The way everything was set up, getting a day off, it was good."

Santana will still be on a strict pitch count in Wednesday's game, with his upper limit around 90-95. He hopes to increase that steadily as the season progresses.

"That's the goal is to go deeper into the game and build up pitches, and we'll see how everything goes," Santana said. "I still have a long way to go. We're still working, but we're going in the right direction."