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WSH@CHC: Strasburg solid in Opening Day start

The Mets should have no problem drawing a crowd to Citi Field on Wednesday, when Nationals fireballer Stephen Strasburg and ace Johan Santana face off in the series finale.

Selling about 3,000 seats for $2.50 as part of their 50th anniversary celebration, the Mets will have fans that can expect quite a duel.

"It's always good for baseball when you have a matchup like that," Santana said. "I'm still working my way back, but it's definitely good. Every time you have a challenge like that, it's going to be a good one and I'm looking forward to it."

The left-hander will be on a strict pitch count for the game and much of April, as he works his way back from left shoulder surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2011 season.

He'll pitch on an extra day of rest after picking up a no-decision in the Mets' 1-0 Opening Day win against Atlanta on April 5. Tossing five innings and giving up only two hits, Santana also struck out five and walked two.

Strasburg had is own share of Opening Day success April 5 against the Cubs, allowing only run run on five hits in seven innings for the no-decision. Extremely efficient with his pitches, Strasburg threw 82 pitches, 58 for strikes.

It was a great sign for the right-hander, who has continued to make strides since missing most of the 2011 campaign after having Tommy John surgery at the end of the '10 season.

"Injuries are not easy, especially when they happen to a pitcher and to a young guy. It's a lot you have to go through, and he put everything behind him and he's back, and I'm very happy for him," Santana said. "Tomorrow is going to be a challenge. We have to go and do our things. Injuries are not easy. Injuries are part of the game, but they're tough. And to overcome that is always good."

Nationals: No home opener for Morse
Michael Morse won't be ready for the Nationals' home opener against the Reds on Thursday, after suffering a setback Monday while playing for Class A Hagerstown, leaving in the seventh inning because of a strained lat (back) muscle. Morse will get further tests in upcoming days, with the team unsure of when he'll will return to the lineup.

"I was hoping that it was just the cold weather, but he has also been examined by our doctor," manager Davey Johnson said. "[He is] concerned about it and there will be further tests on him. Hopefully, it's nothing that serious. I don't like the fact he was swinging the bat well and he took himself out of the game because his arm was bothering him."

Mets: Wright out with fractured pinkie
David Wright, who injured his right pinkie after sliding into first on a pickoff attempt in Monday's game, had an X-ray late Tuesday afternoon that revealed a small fracture at the middle joint of the finger. The finger will be splinted and re-evaluated. The injury could land Wright on the disabled list for the second time in two years, and the Mets announced Tuesday only that their third baseman will avoid surgery and "can return to baseball activity as tolerated."

"It would be very difficult to go out there and perform at even a decent level," Wright said. "Anybody else they put out there today would be able to perform a lot better than I could."

Worth noting
• All four games the Mets have won this season have been by two runs or fewer. Last year, they were 34-39 in games decided by two runs or fewer.

• Strasburg has faced the Mets only one time in his career, going five innings for the no-decision on July 3, 2010, in an eventual 6-5 win for the Nationals. Comments