Santana Mets Opening Day Starter

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Johan Santana (Marc Serota/Getty Images Sport)

Johan Santana (Marc Serota/Getty Images Sport)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) _ Johan Santana will start for the New  York Mets on opening day

The left-hander, who is returning from shoulder surgery performed nearly 19 months ago, met with manager Terry Collins in his office before Collins announced his decision to have him pitch against Atlanta on Thursday.

“After we talked to Johan yesterday after he threw, I walked by him and he said to me at the end, `You’ve got your pitcher for Thursday,”’ Collins said.

Santana made his last spring training start Monday against St. Louis and worked a brief bullpen session Saturday.

“It means a lot,” he said. “It means that everything we’ve done from surgery to today has paid off. We worked hard, and I’m very happy.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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