National League Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, April 1st (All times Eastern)
San Diego Padres (0-0) at New York Mets (0-0), 1:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: San Diego - Edinson Volquez (0-0, 0.00) NY Mets - Jon Niese (0-0, 0.00)
(Sports Network) - The New York Mets will have a starting pitcher not named Johan Santana begin a season for just the second time in six years on Monday when they kick off the 2013 campaign against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field.
In fact, the Mets won't have Santana for the whole year and chances are they may never see him again, as the two-time Cy Young Award winner will undergo a second reconstructive shoulder surgery.
Instead it will be righty Jon Niese, who struck out 155 hitters and pitched to a 3.40 ERA last season in a career-high 190 1/3 innings.
"I'm real excited, obviously, for getting this opportunity," Niese said. "I want to thank the Mets for putting the trust in me to have this opportunity. But I'm going to treat it as any other start."
At the close of last season's miserable 74-88 campaign it may have been a safe bet that National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey would be the one taking the ball for New York on Monday. However, the Mets dealt him this winter for big-time catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and highly-regarded right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who is all of 20 years old, stocking the Mets minor league shelves alongside 22-year-old Zack Wheeler.
New York's other moves this offseason were meant to field a team in 2013 as they brought in oft-injured righty Shaun Marcum, 33-year-old reliever Brandon Lyon, 40-year-old bullpen arm LaTroy Hawkins and outfielder Marlon Byrd.
The fact that Hawkins and Byrd, 35, made the team after signing minor league contracts shows just how early on the Mets are in their rebuilding effort.
Newly-appointed captain David Wright remains the silver lining for Terry Collins' club and will be a Met for a long time after agreeing on a monster $122 million extension that will keep him in Flushing through the 2020 season.
Wright, who turned 30 on Dec. 20, batted .306 with 21 home runs, 41 doubles and 93 RBI and earned his sixth career All-Star selection last season.
San Diego, meanwhile, also enters the 2013 campaign with low expectations going 76-86 a year ago, while missing the playoffs for a sixth straight season.
Padres third baseman Chase Headley is the club's returning offensive star and was arguably the MVP of the second half last summer. Headley led the team with a .286 batting average, 31 homers and 115 RBI. Headley, though, will miss the start of the season with a thumb injury.
One player to watch will be top prospect Jedd Gyorko, who will likely man the hot corner in Headley's absence. Gyorko had a monster offensive season at the minor league level a year ago, hitting .311 and with 30 home runs and 100 RBI over 126 games at the Double- and Triple-A level.
Heading to the hill for San Diego on Monday will be righty Edinson Volquez, who will be making his second Opening Day start for the Padres and third overall.
"It was a big moment," Volquez said of when Black informed him of the decision. "I'm excited about Opening Day No. 3. It's a big honor. I can't wait for that first game in New York."
Volquez was 11-11 with a 4.14 ERA in 32 starts last season. He also appeared in three games for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic and was the winning pitcher in the semifinal victory over the Netherlands.
New York was 4-3 against the Padres last season.
04/01 10:24:54 ET