- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 1, 2009

From combined dispatches

New York Mets ace Johan Santana said his Opening Day start could be in jeopardy as he continues to battle tightness in his elbow.

“We have 162 games,” Santana said Saturday in Port St. Lucie, Fla. “What we have to accomplish takes 162 games. Everything starts April 6, if it’s going to be me or somebody else. It’s tough to say right now.”

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Santana met with Mets general manager Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel for about 40 minutes Saturday morning to discuss a plan of action for his ailing elbow.

The left-hander said doctors have told him an irritated triceps tendon is causing the discomfort in his throwing elbow.

The Mets plan to have him throw a light bullpen session Sunday to see how he responds, even though he said Saturday he still has tightness in the elbow.

If all goes well Sunday, Santana said he would need another two or three batting practice sessions with two days off in between before making his first Grapefruit League start.

That means the two-time Cy Young Award winner isn’t likely to pitch in a game until at least the second week of March.

If Santana still feels discomfort in the elbow, the Mets could opt to send him to New York for further tests.

YANKEES: Catcher Jorge Posada was scratched from the starting lineup for New York’s game against Minnesota because of minor soreness and weakness in his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Posada was the scheduled to be the designated hitter before being dropped from the lineup about an hour before game time.

“I’m not concerned at all,” said Posada, who had shoulder surgery July 30. “I wanted to play to tell you the truth. I don’t feel it hitting.”

ROCKIES: Outfielder Brad Hawpe will miss the World Baseball Classic because of a left finger injury.

Hawpe had four stitches on his pinkie finger after being spiked in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. He was accidentally stepped on while running back into second base in the first inning against the Angels. There is no damage to ligaments or tendons.

MARINERS: Seattle told Adrian Beltre he can’t play for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic because he hasn’t fully recovered from surgery last fall.

The Gold Glove third baseman said he had decided he was healthy enough to join the Dominican team to train for its opening game in the tournament March 7.

The Mariners disagreed, saying he isn’t 100 percent after surgeries in September to repair a ligament in his left thumb and to remove bone spurs from his left, nonthrowing shoulder.

BREWERS: Right-hander Braden Looper was scratched from his start against the Los Angeles Angels because of a tight oblique muscle.

Looper, who was making his only start before participating in the World Baseball Classic, was warming up in the bullpen when the muscle tightened.

Looper was 12-14 with a 4.16 ERA in 33 starts last season. He’s scheduled to leave camp in Arizona along with left fielder Ryan Braun to join Team USA in Florida.

CUBS: Reliever Carlos Marmol has decided to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic after all.

The 26-year-old Marmol said that after talking with Felipe Alou and Stan Javier of the Dominican team, he decided to join his countrymen. He’d said earlier during camp that he wouldn’t do it.

Marmol will pitch for the Cubs on Monday and then leave for the WBC the following day. Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he’s fine with Marmol’s decision and that it won’t affect the competition between the right-hander and Kevin Gregg for the closer role.

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