Here’s today’s lineup and some thoughts about it for the Mets’ exhibition opener against Washington:
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
Ruben Tejada, ss
David Wright, 3b
Ike Davis, 1b
Marlon Byrd, rf
Lucas Duda, lf
John Buck, c
Justin Turner, 2b
Jordany Valdespin, dh
Shaun Marcum, rhp
LINEUP THOUGHTS: Zack Wheeler, Cory Mazzoni, Jeurys Familia and Darin Gorski will also pitch for the Mets. I like that Wheeler pitching in relief. Yes, it’s only an exhibition game, but there are still nerves involved. No sense adding extra pressure. … Marcum should get two innings or roughly 30 pitches to start. He’s the projected fifth starter. … The first four in the batting order are as I suggested several days ago. Notice how Terry Collins separated Ike Davis and Lucas Duda with Marlon Byrd. It’s important to separate the two strikeout machines. … The spring training objectives is for starting pitchers to make six starts and compile 30 innings. Hitters need around 50 to 60 at-bats.
METS NOTEBOOK: First baseman Rhyne Hughes was signed to a minor league contract and will report to the minor league camp. Hughes hit 13 with 56 RBI in 266 at-bats for the Double-A Bowie. … Jenrry Mejia is in camp, delayed over a week with a visa issue.
The question is always posed at the start of the exhibition schedule: How important is it to win during spring training?
For most teams it isn’t and history is full of examples of spring training winners who were flops during the regular season. The reverse also holds true.
But, what about the Mets, who open up today against the Washington Nationals? What are we to make if Zack Wheeler outpitches Stephen Strasburg or if the Nationals light him up?
Probably nothing, but over the next five weeks I believe it is important for the Mets to show something, if for no other reason but to get a good feeling about themselves. And, for us to get a good feeling about them.
What are we to make of the Mets’ decision today to push back Johan Santana at least two weeks with the specific purpose of building up arm strength?
SANTANA: Should Mets open season without him?
With the exception of his first season with the Mets, Santana has not pitched a full year for his $137.5 million package. Last season ended with lower back inflammation and prevented him from having a normal offseason workout program. That’s why his arm isn’t as strong as it normally would be this time of spring.
My first reaction, of course, is a red flag, that this is a sign of things to come. When it comes to pitcher’s health, always bet the worst. Sure, that’s a pessimistic attitude, but that’s the way it usually works out – especially with the Mets.
The Mets are acting on the side of caution, which is the right tact. The Mets are going to pay Santana $31 million this year whether he pitches 200 innings or two. Really, their only option is caution as that’s the only way they’ll get anything out of him.
The Mets don’t know when Santana will be full strength, and if his status lingers I would not hesitate holding him back at the start of the season. It might be a prudent choice given the cold weather in April and Santana’s health issues to hold him back a couple of weeks.
This way, Santana can progress at his rate and not worry about rushing to get ready. This guy will pitch hurting, but does anybody really want that?
Sandy Alderson told reporters today the Mets Spring Complex, that left-hander Johan Santana’s first Grapefruit League start would be pushed back by as much as two weeks.
Alderson said that there was no structural issue and that it is just a matter of building up strength in Santana’s arm. Initially, Santana was scheduled to make his first Grapefruit League appearance on March 2nd, but a lack of velocity during his last bullpen session raised concerns.
The Mets presumed Opening Day starter says he is in no pain, but obviously this is something to keep an eye on.
According to the Mets GM, Santana will do some long-tossing once he gets back on a mound and no timetable for his return will be set until further evaluation.
Santana, 33, has not pitched in a game since being shutdown by the Mets last August and was prescribed rest for the offseason.
We’ll keep you posted as this story further develops…
Several things to look for in today’s Mets intrasquad game in Port St. Lucie. You don’t get answers in a game like this, but you can get a first impression or something to build on.
Here’s the players I am interested in and why:
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Leading off for Team 1. Nieuwenhuis is getting the first chance to win the leadoff job, which is definite hole.
Jordany Valdespin: Playing second base for Team 1 and batting second. Valdespin is ticketed to open the season in the minors, but that could change on how well he plays second base and how Daniel Murphy recovers from a ribcage injury.
Andrew Brown: Playing left field for Team 1. He has a chance to stick as a reserve in the Mets’ undermanned outfield.
Wilmer Flores: A top prospect playing second base for Team 2. Opportunities often come out of injuries and if Murphy’s injury is worse than expected Flores might become an option. Even so, he should see major league time this summer.