The following is an accumulation of news and notes from spring training today:
* Rod Barajas reported to camp and will wear Carlos Delgado’s No. 21.
* Japanese pitchers Ryota Igarashi and Hisanori Takahashi threw live batting practice.
* Sean Green is working on a submarine delivery. In theory it should produce a sharper sinker conducive for getting the double-play grounder.
* Pedro Feliciano is working on a cutter. The more pitches the better.
* Jerry Manuel said Fernando Nieve is versatile enough to work as a long-man, eighth-inning set-up man or starter. That’s another way of saying he has no idea on how to use him. If Jon Niese steps up, Nieve would likely be the long man.
* Good reports so far on Angel Pagan’s confidence. Pagan has no doubt he can hold center field until Carlos Beltran’s return in mid-May.
The early reports have been good on Jose Reyes and his oft-discussed hamstring. Reyes has been doing a variety of running drills designed to test his explosiveness and well as strengthen his legs.
I wrote several days ago that of all the position players, the Mets need a healthy Reyes most of all as he is the key to their offensive ignition.
That being said, I still don’t like him hitting third. Manager Jerry Manuel wants him there until Carlos Beltran returns and said the move, in part, would be to take his focus off running. But why? If Reyes is healthy, running is what he does best.
The Mets’ first immediate injury concern is reliever Kelvim Escobar, who is projected as a possible eighth-inning set-up reliever to Francisco Rodriguez. If Escobar gets the eighth inning it stands to reason Bobby Parnell would get the seventh, where theoretically, there is less pressure.
Escobar is bothered with weakness – not pain – in his shoulder. There won’t be timetable for his return until he starts long tossing.
Sandy Koufax is back in camp, taking a special look at Oliver Perez today. There’s something about Koufax. He’s worked with other Mets, and other players, before, and it has translated well. Perhaps it is his demeanor and touch.
Not all great athletes can teach, but Koufax has been able to impart something to others. Well, others have tried with Perez, from Pedro Martinez to Johan Santana, but nothing has stuck. Maybe this time will be different. At least, let’s hope so.
Word is Perez is healthy and in shape after working out at a sports institute in Arizona in the offseason. He’s won 15 games before, so the potential and history is there, but he’s also shown an aptitude for wildness and disaster. Perez is a wild card for the Mets. He does well and the team can be competitive; he does poorly and he can take the Mets down with him.
David Wright spent a lot of time this offseason working out to get himself ready for the season, and that included eating right. Jeff Francoeur said Wright is chiseled.
The new-and-improved Wright brought some criticism, with some suggesting why he didn’t do this earlier in his career. I can’t see that. Wright has always been one of the hardest working Mets, and to suggest he hadn’t put the effort in previously is unfair. I’ve always known Wright to come to camp early and as one of the team’s hardest working players.
Last year was a bad one for him, both mentally and physically. That he recognized that and stepped up his program is to commended, not second guessed. Wright has always taken a leadership role with this team, but until last season he’s lead a charmed life. To work harder after adversity only affirms his leadership responsibilities.
I see a big year for Wright, with him again reaching his career norms in power and run production. And, with Carlos Beltran out early and Carlos Delgado gone, it will truly be his locker room and his team.