NEW YORK -- Though Tuesday's rest was planned well in advance for first baseman Ike Davis, that did not stop Mets manager Terry Collins from having to explain it several times over.
In sum: Yes, Davis is fine, experiencing no symptoms of the Valley Fever diagnosis he received in Spring Training. But no, that does not give Collins license to play him every day. The team's medical staff gave the Mets strict instructions during Spring Training to proceed carefully with Davis, which is precisely what they intend to do.
That said, the Mets can certainly be strategic about the situation. Knowing Davis needed to rest at some point this homestand, Collins chose Tuesday for two reasons. Not only did it prevent the 0-for-15 Davis from facing left-handed Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler, but it also kept him from playing a day game after a night game on back-to-back days.
"The Valley Fever is not an issue with Ike," Collins said. "He feels fine. Obviously the weather has really helped, being nice and cool and fresh. ... When I was looking at the schedule, I saw a day game after a night game, a tough lefty on the mound -- he's not swinging real good right now. Maybe this was the perfect time just to let him have that one extra day. But he's fine."
In Davis' absence, Justin Turner made his season debut in the starting lineup and his career debut at first base. Though Turner has never played first base in a Major League game, he has logged significant innings at the position in past Grapefruit League and winter ball seasons.
Because the Mets do not want to move natural first basemen Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda from their new permanent positions at second base and right field, respectively, Turner will start at first whenever Davis rests.
"He's played there," Collins said of Turner. "He maybe hasn't started a game there, but as long as you've played over there, you feel comfortable. He played enough games over there at Spring Training to feel comfortable. He's one of those guys that no matter where you put him, you've got to feel good about him being able to play the spot."
Collins' focus on Johan, not hyped matchup
NEW YORK -- Most baseball fans will be interested in watching Johan Santana vs. Stephen Strasburg, a two-time Cy Young Award winner against perhaps the most-hyped pitching prospect in history.
Terry Collins is more interested in Santana vs. himself.
"I'm only looking forward to seeing Johan pitch," the Mets manager said of Wednesday's series finale against the Nationals. "That's where my concern is. The baseball fan in me certainly everybody likes to see the best players play, and I'm interested in seeing [Strasburg] in a game situation. I know he's got great stuff. We saw it in Spring Training. But my focus is my guy, not the matchup itself."
Collins is particularly interested in seeing how Santana will bounce back after throwing 84 pitches on Opening Day, the second time this year he has thrown more than 80 in a game. The last time he did so, during Spring Training, Santana experienced extreme soreness in his surgically repaired left shoulder and needed painkillers to proceed. It helps that Santana will start Wednesday on an extra day of rest, as he will for six of his first seven starts.
"It worked out good," Santana said, noting that he enjoyed his first complete off-day since February last Friday. "The way everything was set up, getting a day off, it was good."
Santana will still be on a strict pitch count in Wednesday's game, with his upper limit around 90-95. He hopes to increase that steadily as the season progresses.
"That's the goal is to go deeper into the game and build up pitches, and we'll see how everything goes," Santana said. "I still have a long way to go. We're still working, but we're going in the right direction."