Some athletes will use anything as a motivator while others simply know what it takes to get ready.
Today, pitching coach Dan Warthen tried to sell the idea Johan Santana used perceived criticism of his physical condition as the spark to get him on the mound for the first time since Feb. 19. Santana threw the day after GM Sandy Alderson said he didn’t think the soon-to-be 34-year old lefty would pitch for another ten days to put his Opening Day start in jeopardy.
SANTANA: Pushes himself to mound. (AP)
The Mets are trying to mix the contrasting positions Santana as the ultimate competitor who knows better than anybody what it takes to get ready and the other that he uses criticism as motivation.
Well, which is it?
Reportedly, Santana was irritated at reporters’ questioning, to which my first thought is for him to get over it as he’ll get $31 million this year regardless of how much he pitches, so answer the damn questions.
There’s no doubting Santana’s heart, but he can be sensitive.
What I especially found questionable is if the Mets thought he was ten days away from throwing, then why would they let him throw today? Who’s running the show anyway?
When a team puts it in the hands of the athlete to make medical decision, there is a likely chance of failure. Just think of Ryan Church, Mike Pelfrey, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes and others.
Carlos Beltran left the Mets for San Francisco two summers ago with the hope of playing in the World Series.
Beltran did his part, batting .323 with seven homers in 44 games with the Giants, but it wasn’t to be. Even so, Beltran believes the Mets got the better end of the deal that sent pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to New York.
“It worked out better for them,’’ Beltran recently said. “I thought we were going to go to the playoffs and it didn’t happen. But it is what it is. I took the chance of going to the team that was fighting for a playoff spot and it didn’t work out for me. But it worked out for the Mets.’’
While Beltran has a few more years left to his career, the ceiling seems unlimited for Wheeler, currently sidelined with a strained oblique muscle.
It will not be the dream spring training for Zach Wheeler that he might have hoped. After all the Stephen Strasburg comparisons, Wheeler was scratched from today’s start against St. Louis with a mild strain of the oblique muscle.
Wheeler sustained the injury swinging a bat in pregame warm-ups. He said the injury was nothing serious and it felt a little stiff, but that is something we’ve heard numerous times from various Mets – notably Jose Reyes – over the years about this type of injury.
“I’d rather be out one start than two months and be behind the eight-ball when I do come back,’’ Wheeler told reporters. “Early in the spring you don’t want to risk anything. We have a month, or a month and a half, left.’’
Veteran Mets watchers will quickly say it will be more than one start, but he’s right, caution is the way to go on this injury. Muscle strains and muscle pulls always last longer than originally speculated; it’s a baseball variation of Murphy’s Law.
The funniest thing I heard with the Yankees and their contract negotiations with Robinson Cano is Scott Boras would take this to the open market to possibly draw the Mets in as an antagonist. That’s what Boras does, and the presence of other teams – some out of the desire to make things difficult for the Yankees – would boost the price.
CANO: Mets should say No.
I laughed out loud when I read one of the teams should be the Mets. Seriously, how could anybody write that and have the readers keep a straight face?
Regardless of Fred Wilpon’s desire to spend money next year, it won’t be on Cano for four significant reasons.
First, the Mets won’t bring in anybody for more than the $138 million package they gave David Wright. He’s a homegrown franchise player and nobody will beat that amount, at least not in the next year. Five years from now, maybe. But, not in 2014.
Secondly, the Yankees would never let them be beaten out by the Mets for a player they both sought. The Mets can’t go toe-to-toe with the Yankees financially regardless of how much money Wilpon wants to spend.
Both the Mets and Yankees wanted Carlos Beltran, but the Yankees cooled at the end. Even after getting his final offer from the Mets, Boras went back to the Yankees one last time. Boras wanted the Bronx, but for that price the Yankees were concerned about Beltran’s mental toughness in the New York market.
It was during the summer of 2008 when I first broached the question with then-Mets manager Willie Randolph: Could David Wright someday be named captain?
I went back to my story and this is what Randolph said: “It’s not something we’re talking about now, but yes, David certainly has the qualifications needed to be a captain. He has the respect and admiration of his teammates. They listen to him.”
The Mets didn’t pull the trigger because they had veterans with more experience – such as Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran – and didn’t want to ruffle the feathers of the older players. Randolph wasn’t kept around long enough to name Wright captain, but it was always a foregone conclusion it would eventually happen.
Now, with Wright armed with an eight-year contract that will have him finish his career with the Mets, manager Terry Collins said today he will begin the process of naming his third baseman to the honor, joining Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and John Franco.
The first step is to involve discussing the matter with GM Sandy Alderson and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.