Padres-Mets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 31, 2013
Two main attractions will be missing when the New York Mets host San Diego in their season opener Monday. Chase Headley, the biggest bat on the Padres and last season's NL RBI leader, is sidelined for a few weeks with a broken thumb. Johan Santana's future is far more precarious. After re-tearing the anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder, the one-time Mets ace is scheduled for another surgery Tuesday that he hopes can save his career. So the opening day assignment goes to Jonathon Niese, suddenly thrust into the role of No. 1 starter for a team that traded Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey during the offseason. ''It's Jon Niese's turn. He's now that guy,'' manager Terry Collins said Sunday at Citi Field. Born on the day the Mets won the 1986 World Series, Niese established career bests across the board last season when he went 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA in 190 1-3 innings. The fast-working lefty will face a Padres lineup also minus promising young catcher Yasmani Grandal, suspended for the first 50 games after testing positive for testosterone. Left fielder Carlos Quentin should be ready to go, though, after he was slowed this spring with discomfort in his surgically repaired right knee. Top prospect Jedd Gyorko takes over at second base. Niese said this spring he won't try to ''fill anyone's shoes.'' But he acknowledged Sunday that he'll probably be a little anxious on opening day. New York announced the decision to go with Niese on March 21 - the same day David Wright was appointed team captain - after Santana stalled at spring training. ''It's kind of sunk in now,'' Niese said. ''I'm not going to treat it as an opening day. I'm going to treat it as a midseason start. I'm going to prepare the same and just be ready for it. I don't think we really have an ace on this staff. I think everybody contributes equally.'' Pitching for the Padres will be Edinson Volquez, set to make his third consecutive opening day start. He got the ball last year for San Diego and in 2011 with Cincinnati. Solid arms for sure, but this matchup of fourth-place teams that held their money tight last winter probably won't make many national headlines on a day when the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez are on the mound. Not to mention across town, the Yankees will be hosting the rival Boston Red Sox at the exact same time. ''I love Eddie out there, especially that first game with his stuff. You know he might throw a few pitches but he's going to get outs. He's nasty,'' Padres outfielder Will Venable said. Volquez, an All-Star with the Reds in 2008, has a tendency to be wild. But he played a pivotal role for the Dominican Republic team that won the World Baseball Classic this spring. The right-hander was 11-11 with a 4.14 ERA last season after he and Grandal were part of the four-player package Cincinnati sent to San Diego for pitcher Mat Latos in December 2011. ''Edinson Volquez is very capable of throwing a hell of a game,'' Padres manager Bud Black said. ''I think our guys are physically and mentally ready to do it. They're in a good frame of mind.'' Of course, the Mets are optimistic at this stage as well. Nearly the entire squad showed up for a voluntary workout Sunday to prepare for the opener. Wright and second baseman Daniel Murphy are expected to play after both were sidelined by ribcage injuries until just a few days ago. ''I feel good physically,'' said Wright, who was on a hitting tear for Team USA when he got hurt at the WBC. ''It would have been nice to have maybe a few more at-bats toward the end, but I didn't have that luxury.'' Collins addressed his team Saturday night, marking the end of a long spring training. ''It's time to get after it. It's time to start putting together all the things that we worked on,'' he said. ''I told the guys yesterday, `If you've ever wanted to be on the biggest stage, this is it.' There's nothing like opening day in New York.'' NOTES: Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez watched closely as backup infielder Justin Turner (calf) ran the bases at Citi Field. Turner was deemed healthy enough to remain on the roster, and the Mets made their final cut by optioning 3B-1B Zach Lutz to Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Rusty Staub, a member of the Mets' Hall of Fame, will throw out the first pitch Monday as the club celebrates the 40th anniversary of its 1973 pennant. ... The Mets will honor hundreds of Hurricane Sandy responders and volunteers in a ceremony on the field before the 1:10 p.m. game. The team donated 1,000 opening day tickets to storm responders and those affected by the destruction. ... Days before the opener, the Mets were offering free seats to games later in the week to fans buying opening day tickets. ... Despite losing their first eight openers, the Mets are 33-18 on opening day - the best mark in baseball. --- AP freelance writers Laurel Pfahler in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Tim Price in San Antonio contributed to this report.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

John Elway takes swipe at John Fox

Jets DT: I won't watch a Super Bowl 'until I play in one'

Hall of Fame coach: Stephen Curry is the best of all time

Reggie Bush on NFL future: ‘I’m not retiring’

Derek Fisher blasts Rondo over triangle offense criticism

Report: Marshawn Lynch hasn't spent any playing money

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ex-King says he could do 'much better job' than George Karl

Trainer thought Thomas Davis would not play in Super Bowl

Todd Gurley named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Durant, Westbrook on loss to Warriors: We're not scared

Report: Eagles interested in bringing back Nick Foles

Report: Manning hinted to teammates he plans to retire

WATCH: Tom Brady booed during Super Bowl 50 MVP ceremony

Cam Newton's cleats have 'MVP' and stats written on them

Concession prices incredibly high at Super Bowl 50

Fan at Super Bowl 50 wears awesome dual-team jersey

Skip Bayless whiffed badly on Cam Newton prediction

Stephen Curry to serve as guest drummer for Panthers

Charlie Sheen tweets advice for Johnny Manziel

Cardale Jones predicts he will play in Super Bowl

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

Marcin Gortat fires back at critic on Twitter

WATCH: Kerr told Warriors he was happy to have close game

Broncos could have tough decision with franchise tag

WATCH: Steph Curry does 'Dab' on court on eve of Super Bowl

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker