Johan slated for three rehab innings

Johan slated for three rehab innings

SAN DIEGO -- Returning soon to the five boroughs: Johan Santana.

Santana will ramp up his rehab from a sprained right ankle with three innings Sunday at Class A Brooklyn. If all goes well, the left-hander should return to Citi Field next weekend, most likely Saturday against the Braves.

Feeling "great," according to manager Terry Collins, Santana is one day removed from his first bullpen session since spraining his ankle last month. The Mets originally intended for Santana to return early next week against the Marlins, but instead delayed his return until the Braves series.

In a related conversation, they have also delayed talk of using R.A. Dickey on short rest until at least mid-August. Citing matchup issues and frequent off-days over the next two weeks, Collins said he is eyeing a stretch of 13 straight games from Aug. 14-26 to use Dickey on short rest, if necessary. The aim is to give Santana, Chris Young and Jon Niese extra rest, while keeping rookie Matt Harvey's schedule as regular as possible.

"There are all sorts of thoughts going on," Collins said. "We want to make sure we protect [Harvey] as much as we can. ... The one thing you don't want to start doing is just throwing it all out there and trying to jumble all of the rotation up and have guys not be comfortable with what they're doing."