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Terry Collins: Mets Will Be Better Than Expected

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (WFAN/AP) — Mets manager Terry Collins anticipates Johan Santana will be ready for Opening Day. And despite drastic payroll cuts, he says the team will be a lot better than people think.

As pitchers and catchers reported Tuesday, Collins said the Mets might find their own Jeremy Lin. Collins said every team has a player like Lin, the Knicks' out-of-nowhere star, and that it's all about providing opportunities.

"The crux of the message is obvious," said Collins. "We're better than people think we are."

Collins was optimistic about the Mets' chances despite the loss of shortstop Jose Reyes and outfielder Carlos Beltran in free agency. The Mets could have a payroll of about $90 million to $95 million this year after starting last season at $120 million, not including $18 million owed released players Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

A strong return from Santana, who threw off a mound for the second time this year on Tuesday, would be a huge help. Collins said the team would be happy if it got 25-28 starts from the left-hander, who hasn't pitched in the majors since September 2010.

"In my mind right now, in my heart, he'll be ready," Collins said. "He's going to have a lot to say how he feels and how we're going to go about it. This guy has worked so hard in the last 18 months to get ready, I think he's going to be ready. I really do."

What do you expect from the Mets this season? Make your case in the comments below...

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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