Santana will pitch opener for Mets

Published Apr. 1, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Johan Santana is officially the Mets' Opening Day starter.

During a meeting Sunday with manager Terry Collins, the veteran lefty was told he is clear to pitch Thursday against the Braves at Citi Field. It will be Santana's first regular-season start since Sept. 2, 2010, when he tore the anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Dillon Gee will follow Santana in the rotation that Collins announced Sunday.

"It means that everything we have done since I had my surgery to today has really paid off," Santana said. "We worked hard and I'm real happy. I'm really happy that I had an opportunity to start the season from day one with the team, and that is something I really was looking forward to."

Santana had body soreness during an exhibition start last week against the Cardinals, but his strong bullpen session Saturday convinced Collins he was ready.

"I like our rotation," Collins said. "I'm telling you I like our rotation. We've got guys that when they take the mound they compete, and one thing we've got to do to help them out is catch the baseball."