The Mets’ private expectations for Johan Santana’s April 1 availability are even grimmer than their public line of “we’ll see.” Really, there is almost no chance that Santana avoids the disabled list at the beginning of the season, leaving the Mets in need of at least one additional starting pitcher -- especially with Shaun Marcum still waiting to make his second Grapefruit League start.

Despite that, team insiders say it is almost certain that Jeremy Hefner, and not one of the options available outside the organization, will begin the year in the rotation. Other internal choices include Colin McHugh and Jenrry Mejia, but Hefner seems to have the edge.

There are players to be had, namely from the Dodgers’ starter surplus that includes Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly. The Tigers are willing to move Rick Porcello, and Chien-Ming Wang drew attention last week by pitching six shutout innings for Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic.

Former Met Chris Young is in camp with Washington, but will not make that rotation unless a teammate is injured. He has a late-March opt-out, and the Mets were interested until the end of the offseason -- but not so much at the moment.

“More likely we’ll go with what we have in here,” said one Mets official, while a second source offered an even stronger statement: “We are not even in that (starting pitching) market right now.”

OK, then. Hefner it is. He started Monday, after Santana threw again and impressed pitching coach Dan Warthen. Terry Collins told Santana not to hurt himself trying to disprove the negative press.

Santana looks stronger now than he did in mid-February, and Mets people are not quite as freaked out as they were a few weeks ago. But still, there is a general sense of expectation that Santana’s debut will come closer to mid-April, if all goes well.

Marcum, meanwhile, has made just one Grapefruit League appearance. The coaching staff was taken aback when he asked for a time to long-toss and strengthen his shoulder, wondering why he didn’t make that request before struggling in his debut.

In any case, he is set to return to the mound in a minor league game Tuesday, and the Mets are not worried about his readiness for April. So: No trades for starting pitchers, despite the many options available.