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, suspe...