The Sports Kings: Braves Open Season Versus Mets…

Johan Santana and the Atlanta Braves have the same thing in mind heading into opening day. They’d both like to put last year behind them.

After an extensive recovery from shoulder surgery, Santana is set to make his first major league start in 19 months Thursday when the New York Mets host a Braves team coming off a near-record collapse that cost them a playoff spot last September.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner won’t have to face Chipper Jones – marking the first time since 1996 the Braves will field an opening-day lineup without him. The switch-hitting slugger and longtime Mets nemesis, who recently announced he’ll retire after this season, misses out on a chance to take aim at Citi Field’s shortened fences because of a left knee injury.

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