Johan Santana may or may not start Opening Day

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Mets manager Terry Collins implied earlier this month that he planned on Johan Santana starting Opening Day against the Braves on April 5, saying “in my mind, in my heart, he’ll be ready.” Or at least that’s what we thought he meant.

Collins clarified his comments yesterday, telling Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that he feels Santana will be with the team on Opening Day, but not necessarily as the starting pitcher. The rehabbing left-hander is being lined up for the season opener, but the team wants to leave the door open in case he needs extra rest.

“I have not decided who is pitching Opening Day,” Collins told The News on Friday. “Now, my point is, right now, as we get through spring training, we may have to make adjustments. If Johan is, ‘Hey, look, I’ll be ready,’ but maybe he needs to pitch game two or game three or game four, we will adjust.”

Santana allowed five runs — four earned — over 2 2/3 innings yesterday against the Tigers, but was regularly hitting 90-91 mph on the radar gun and didn’t have any issues with his surgically repaired shoulder. Heck, if someone told you a month ago that Santana would be healthy enough to start the season on the active roster, they would have been met with immediate skepticism. So the fact that this is even a story at this point is pretty encouraging.

Report: A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.