Jonathon Niese knows he may get the ball on opening day if Johan Santana begins the season on the disabled list.
The young left-hander is not taking anything for granted, though.
Niese pitched one-hit ball for 4 2-3 innings, and the New York Mets roughed up Justin Verlander in an 11-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
Starting the opener at home on April 1 against the San Diego Padres would be a big deal to Niese - only if Santana isn't ready.
''It would be an honor to pitch on opening day,'' Niese said. ''I'll pitch anywhere in the rotation, but if it is offered, I will accept the challenge.''
Niese went 13-9 last season for the Mets with a 3.40 ERA in 30 starts. He was second on the staff in wins behind Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays over the winter. Santana started only 21 games, going 6-9 last season for the Mets.
New York manager Terry Collins is confident Niese, who hasn't allowed ...