Santana to start Friday in Subway Series opener

Updated: May 14, 2008, 3:14 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Johan Santana is going to pitch in Hank's house.

Santana's next scheduled start was pushed back a day by the New York Mets, and the two-time Cy Young Award winner is slated to start Friday's Subway Series opener at Yankee Stadium against Darrell Rasner.

Santana
Santana

Hank Steinbrenner, the Yankees' co-chairman, cut off trade talks for Santana in December when he heeded the advice of general manager Brian Cashman and kept his team's top prospects. The Mets then acquired Santana from the Minnesota Twins in February.

"It's always good to get an extra day," Santana said. "I have a philosophy. I got to do my job no matter who I'm facing or who the team is."

Santana is 4-2 with a 3.10 ERA in eight starts for the Mets and the anchor for the rotation the team was hoping he would be when they sent four prospects to Minnesota, then gave him a $137.5 million, six-year contract.

The two young starters who began the season in the Yankees' rotation, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, are a combined 0-6. Hughes has a 9.00 ERA and is on the disabled list with a broken rib. Kennedy, who has an 8.37 ERA for the Yankees, will start Thursday at Tampa Bay following two outings at Triple-A.

The Mets chose to give Santana extra rest after he threw 116 pitches Saturday in a doubleheader opener against Cincinnati.

Mets manager Willie Randolph was undecided about the move Monday, saying that the team monitors pitch counts and that Santana was fine. His decision would be based on the Mets' best chance for winning -- they were playing the last-place Washington Nationals in a four-game set before heading to the Bronx.

But he added, "Don't get me wrong. It would be nice to have him start at Yankee Stadium."

Santana wasn't concerned about his pitch count and was prepared to work either Thursday against Washington or Friday. Having a 3-0 regular-season record with a 2.66 ERA for Minnesota at the Yankees, he sounded nonchalant about the chance to pitch there for the Mets.

Rasner will be making just his third start of the season for the Yankee.

"I can't worry about who the pitcher is," Rasner said. "I'm not hitting against him, luckily for myself."

With Santana pitching Friday, Mike Pelfrey will start Thursday against Washington. The Mets purchased the contract of Claudio Vargas from Triple-A New Orleans to make his season debut on Wednesday.

Vargas was released by Milwaukee on March 25 after going 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five spring training starts. The Brewers told him they wanted go with "young pitchers," he said.

"I looked in the mirror -- I'm not that old," the 29-year-old said.

Vargas went 11-6 with one save and a 5.09 ERA last season for the Brewers and is 43-38 with a 4.95 ERA in 153 games -- 110 starts -- over five years. The Mets are his fourth team.

The Mets also activated reliever Matt Wise from the 15-day DL. He's been out since April 2 with a bruised right forearm, and he allowed a run in one inning of the Mets' 6-3 win over Washington on Tuesday night.

To make room for Vargas and Wise, the Mets designated Nelson Figueroa and Jorge Sosa for assignment, a night after they combined to give up all 10 runs in a loss to Washington.

"Going into last night's game we were not set on what we were going to do," general manager Omar Minaya said. "Sosa certainly didn't help himself out last night."

Sosa gave up four runs in one inning and was 4-1 with a 7.06 ERA in 21 2/3 innings over 20 appearances.

Figueroa, a journeyman control pitcher, hurt his chances to stay with the Mets by walking 24 batters in 38 2/3 innings. He was 2-3 with a 5.12 ERA in nine games -- six starts.

"Being the odd man out is hard," said Figueroa, who pitched in Mexico last year. "I think unless you're one of the few that get multiyear deals, you're always auditioning."

The Mets have 10 days to trade, release or send Figueroa and Sosa to the minors.

In another move, the Mets placed outfielder Angel Pagan on the disabled list with a bruised left shoulder. He injured the shoulder making a catch and flipping into the front row of seats at Dodgers Stadium on May 7. New York purchased the contract of Fernando Tatis from Triple-A New Orleans to fill his spot.

Tatis singled as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning for his first hit in the majors since Sept. 16, 2006, for Baltimore.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press