Mar 08

Santana takes next step; Pelfrey rocked.

The Mets received good and bad reviews from two pitchers who might have the highest expectations this season in Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey.

Santana, recovering from shoulder surgery, threw in the bullpen today without discomfort and pronounced himself ready for his next start Sunday, when he’s scheduled to throw three innings against the Marlins.

PELFREY: Rocked in first start.

Santana was anxious to see how his shoulder would respond after Tuesday’s start.

“I was able to throw my bullpen without any problems and with good intensity and work on all my pitches,’’ Santana said.  “I felt pretty good.’’

Santana said every day represents another hurdle, and this week has been all good news. He threw mostly fastballs and change-ups during his 29-pitch outing Tuesday and plans to throw more sliders Sunday.

While we can’t make too much of this to pencil Santana in for the Opening Day rotation, considering what he’s gone through the news is encouraging.

As for Pelfrey, he struggled in his first start of the spring, giving up four runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings.  He had the usual problems with his command, in particular with his sinker.

I didn’t get ahead,’’ Pelfrey said in what was a common refrain last year. “It’s kind of hard to pitch when you’re behind in the count. … I didn’t make pitches. The command wasn’t very good today.’’

Pelfrey gave up a homer to Austin Kearns on a crippled sinker.

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Mar 07

Santana feeling fine; today’s lineup.

On the morning after, Johan Santana said he felt good and would throw a bullpen session tomorrow. Each day is another hurdle, and it isn’t a stretch to say tomorrow’s pen might be more important than yesterday’s start.

The Mets are already planning April’s rotation. There are two versions of it, one with Santana and one without. The one with Santana will be such that each start comes with an extra day of rest. With the off-days in April, that shouldn’t be difficult.

Santana threw mostly in the 87-88 range, but with more strengthening could boost that slightly. Important, however, was he maintained roughly a 10 mph. difference between his fastball and change-up.

* Reliever Pedro Beato has stiffness in his shoulder and will undergo a MRI.

* Outfielder Scott Hairston will be out for at least two weeks with a strained oblique muscle (he took a cortisone injection this week). It is very possible Hairston could open the season on the disabled list. As of now, Kirk Nieuwenhuis does not appear to be an option as a bench player.

Here’s today’s lineup against the Marlins:

Ruben Tejada, ss

Daniel Murphy, 2b

Justin Turner, 3b

Lucas Duda, rf

Josh Satin, 1b

Josh Thole, dh

Cesar Puello, lf

Mike Nickeas, c

Matt den Dekker, cf

Jon Niese, lhp

Note: Jose Reyes isn’t expected to play today, but could face his former team tomorrow.

 

Mar 07

Boras backtracks on Mets

On second thought, Scott Boras decided there’s no sense in biting the hand that feeds you. That’s why Boras texted Jeff Wilpon – what’s wrong with a phone call? – to say he wasn’t specifically talking about the Mets when he was quoted in The New York Times the other day.

BORAS: Damage control.

I didn’t say it was an apology.

Boras said: “When you’re seeing franchises in major markets not pursuing to the levels that the revenues and the fan base and the market provide, then I think you have an ethical violation of the game.”

Boras said he wasn’t directly talking about the Mets, but might as well have been.

The bottom line is Boras makes his money dealing with teams and is constantly searching for a market for his players. There have been times, and undoubtedly will again, where the Mets are that market.

Boras plays hardball at the negotiating table, and he’s been very successful. It made no sense for him to take a shot at the Mets. If anything, Boras should take aim at the new collective bargaining agreement, which will really sock it to the richer teams in the form of a harsher luxury tax in a few seasons. That’s why the Yankees’ Hal Steinbrenner was talking the other day about cutting salary.

It won’t technically be a salary cap, but that’s really semantics and eventually baseball will get what it has always wanted.

ON DECK: Today’s lineup and notes.

 

 

Mar 07

Reasons for playing it safe with Wright.

This much I know about rib cage and oblique injuries: They tend to linger, and often until past when you think you’re healed.

WRIGHT: Playing it safe with their biggest chip.

First it was a couple of games. Now it is until next week. And, even that’s a little vague for when David Wright will return. If Wright is shut down for another week, so be it. The biggest deterrent for him not being ready by Opening Day is for the injury to be aggravated.

The last thing the Mets need is for this to drag on into the season and sap his production in the first half. Not only will it hurt the Mets on the field, but also reduces Wright’s value in the trade market. Don’t think for a moment that hasn’t crossed Sandy Alderson’s mind.

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Mar 06

Santana passes another test.

Johan Santana and the Mets couldn’t have asked for more in the lefty’s return to the mound to face major league hitters for the first time since Sept. 2010.

SANTANA: Looked good today in two solid innings. Kept that fire in check.

With a two-inning, 35-pitch limit, Santana threw free and easy, giving up a walk and hit in two shutout innings against the Cardinals. Manager Terry Collins said what’s next is to see how he responds in two days when the throws again.

Coming off shoulder surgery, Santana kept his competitive juices in check and didn’t give in to the temptation of overthrowing. He threw 29 pitches and touched the gun in the high 80s going with his fastball and circle change.

Santana said he “wouldn’t do anything crazy,” and that included staying away from breaking balls for now.