Have you seen Johan Santana?
I found Waldo, but Santana remains among the missing.
That is the question of the day as the increasingly moody left-hander was nowhere to be found despite being scheduled to work out.
Santana has been irritated since the weekend when he threw an unscheduled bullpen session. Manager Terry Collins was unaware and suggested it might be in response to the suggestion by GM Sandy Alderson he wasn’t in top shape when he reported.
Santana, even with his string of injuries that would make anybody depressed, has usually been accessible and friendly. Now, he doesn’t acknowledge hello and blows off the simplest of questions.
Collins excused Santana from today’s workout when the pitcher said he felt it would be better off if he concentrated on physical therapy, such as stretching out his arm.
“We are day to day with him,’’ Collins said. “He’s ready when he’s ready.’’
Collins doesn’t have a date set, but it is closing in on time for a decision to put Santana on the disabled and let Jeremy Hefner prepare himself for Santana’s spot of the staff and Jon Niese to prepare to start Opening Day.
“Last week he showed his displeasure and started to rush things,’’ Collins said. “We decided to go back to the start.’’
Collins said there’s no discomfort in Santana’s arm, but considering the amount of pitches he’s thrown he could be fatigued.
Collins doesn’t want Santana to rush himself to make starts the first month of the season, but for him to be ready the following five.
“I want to look at him in September and see that he’s made 29 starts,’’ Collins said. “That will tell me he’s had a healthy year.’’
Santana will be paid $31 million this year, including a $5.5 buyout. Santana must work 215 innings for his $25-million option for 2014 to kick in.
It represents a tough dilemma for Collins: On one hand he wants to win and Santana can help him; on the other the more he pitches it increases the chances of the Mets falling into a $25 million hole. And factor in the Mets aren’t close to becoming contenders.
If Santana isn’t ready, Hefner will take his spot in the rotation as it won’t be until after April 7 that the Mets will need a fifth starter.
Hefner gave up a hit and walk with two strikeouts in three innings in a 9-6 victory over Houston.
Hefner is aware he could be on the Opening Day roster, and was asked if he’s started doing the math: “After the first day Santana throws, it will be five days until he’s ready to repeat. That puts us at … ’’
Said Hefner: “No I haven’t, but now that you mention it, I will now.’’
METS NOTEBOOK: Lucas Duda took extra batting practice this morning and responded with three hits, including two to the opposite field. … Outfielder Matt den Dekker made a superb running and sliding catch on the warning track. When asked if it was too risky a play, Collins said: “He’s trying to make the team.’’ … Jenrry Mejia threw off the mound and long tossed. “I felt really good,’’ he said. … Travis d’Arnaud was hit below the right elbow Friday but said he’s all right. … Collins is thinking Wednesday for when Kirk Nieuwenhuis will get back on the field. … Daniel Murphy hit again in the batting cage and reports he’s getting closer. … Reliever Bobby Parnell threw back-to-back games for the first time this spring. … Frank Francisco said he might to throw off the mound tomorrow. … The Mets sent pitchers Cory Mazzoni and Rafael Montero, and catcher Juan Centeno to the minor league camp.