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Mon, 09 Apr 2012 01:30 PM EDT

After throwing a comprehensive bullpen session, N.Y Mets left-hander Johan Santana strolled past executive Terry Collins and proclaimed: “You’ve got your pitcher for Thursday.”

One day later, after Santana had a meeting with managing director Sandy Alderson, Collins and the rest of the rotation within the manager’s office, that proclamation was attested. Betting lines

Santana, who last threw a pitch in a major league game on Sept. 2, 2010, will start opposite Atlanta Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson on Thursday at Citi Field in the teams’ regular-season opener.

R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Dillon Gee will round out the rotation, in that specific order. Sports scores

Santana underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder 12 days after that last major league pitch.

“It means everything that we have done since I had my surgery, all of the way to today, has been paid off,” Santana said. “We worked hard. And I’m very happy. I’m very happy that I have a chance to start the season from Day One with the team. That’s something that I actually was looking forward to. I’m happy about it.”

Santana will make his 7th Opening Day start, his 4th with the Mets.

“I did not want to get ahead of everything,” Santana claimed. “I think we took just one step at a time, being cautious about all. I’m really excited again. It will be something critical for me.”

Santana has thrown less than 88 pitches in any Grapefruit League game, and Collins expounded the southpaw likely would not exceed 95 pitches in April.

At least 6 of Santana’s 1st 7 starts will be on an extra day of rest because of team off days.

After his final Grapefruit League start, last Monday vs. the Cardinals, Santana felt achiness, and his fastball velocity registered only 86 mph in the 1st inning. So that the Mets reserved naming him the Game 1 starter till they were assured he may bounce back.

“The other day, after he threw in St. Louis, the 80-something pitches, the following day he felt it, which is what you do when you get in shape,” Collins related. “If it was going to bother him at all, we weren’t going to pitch him. And he bounced back and said, ‘I’m good to go. ‘”

Left fielder Jason Bay was enthusiastic to see Santana come back, especially after the Mets lost shortstop Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins in free agency.

“(Johan) brings a large amount of the same type of power that Jose had brought. We obviously lost Jose and not having Johan around all year last year, so getting him back is getting the energy back,” Bay announced.

“It’s almost like picking up another man because you’ve missed him for the whole year. It’s pleasant to have that back,” Bay asserted.

The right-handed Gee said the club will immediately feel the impact of Santana’s return.

“It’s crucial to see him back,” Gee said. “Everyone wished to see Johan on Opening Day. The prestige of Johan on Opening Day is a benchmark.”

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