Mar 21

Shaun Marcum Added To Mets’ Injury List; Long Season Already Here

The worst-case scenario seems imminent for the Mets.

They faced a myriad of pitching questions entering spring training, including: Johan Santana’s availability after shoulder surgery; Dillon Gee coming off surgery to repair an injury to his shoulder; and injury-prone Shaun Marcum.

All three have been answered in the negative.

One would think a free agent would report to camp in shape, but Marcum didn’t and insisted a long-tossing program was what it took instead of the normal routine pitchers use in spring training.

Marcum said all he needed was four starts, and he might not even get that as he flew to New York on the off-day to have his shoulder examined.  He was diagnosed to have an impingement and received a cortisone injection.

Marcum will not make his start today against St. Louis and Jeremy Hefner will get the ball. Marcum is penciled in as the No. 2 starter, but if he isn’t ready left-hander Aaron Laffey is the likely candidate to replace him.

It will be interesting to see how the relationship develops between manager Terry Collins and Marcum if the pitcher misses several starts. Collins, who doesn’t have a contract after this season, already is dealing from a short deck and doesn’t need another injured pitcher.

While the Mets hope Marcum will miss just today, there’s no doubt they will indefinitely be without Santana, who hasn’t thrown in weeks and has no timetable to return. Forget Opening Day, the Mets might now be thinking May 1.

Think about it, it takes six weeks for a pitcher to get ready for the season with two weeks of long-toss and bullpen work prior to the games where he’ll get six starts to build up to 100 pitches. Santana has had none of that preparation. So, at age 34 he’s going to be ready in a few days? Hardly.

Meanwhile, Gee says he’s fine physically, but his last two starts have been painful to watch. Gee gave up five earned runs in last night’s 7-5 victory over Houston. Gee gave the Mets length last night, just not results. He insisted he’s had no setback and his mechanics are off. He might get two more starts to refine them.

The Mets hoped Jenrry Mejia could be a replacement for Santana and possibly evolve as a fifth starter if Marcum flamed out. However, Mejia has forearm tendinitis and isn’t close to being ready and will open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas.

All this leads to the inevitable question of when Zack Wheeler could be called up. Wheeler is working himself back into shape after straining an oblique muscle, so it isn’t imminent. Alderson is adamant about not rushing Wheeler for two reasons, 1) to not hindering his development, and 2) to not put him on the clock for his service time, thereby delaying the arbitration and free-agent process.

The bullpen hasn’t been immune from injuries, either. Frank Francisco has not progressed following elbow surgery last December to remove a bone spur and inflammation.

Everybody’s injuries are different and there is no set formula to handle them, but you can’t help but wonder why Francisco, who did not finish the season, waited for December to have the surgery. Having it in late September or October would have given him more time for rehabilitation.

As for Santana, he took it easy over the winter after two off-seasons of rehab. Alderson said he didn’t come to camp in shape, prompting Santana to take it upon himself to throw off the mound the first week of March when it was thought he was ten days away from throwing.

The Mets pitching is currently a mess. Thankfully, everything is all right elsewhere. Oh, wait a minute. David Wright and Daniel Murphy will likely open the season on the disabled list and the outfield remains a house of cards.

It’s only March and it is already seems a long season for the Mets.

Mar 14

Dillon Gee To Face Headhunting Tigers Today

Normally, when a team has five of its hitters drilled in two games a case can be made for retribution. There’s been no such talk from the Mets about the Detroit Tigers taking liberties with their hitters.

Jim Leyland’s pitchers have always been aggressive, so perhaps this is just a case of not having control early in spring training.

Nonetheless, it hurts just as much in March as it does in July. It will be interesting to see how the Mets respond if somebody takes one in the ribs today.

Retaliation is tricky at any time, but especially during spring training because players are going in and out of the lineup and pitchers are just trying to make the team. Then again, the solution might be to sign Armando Benitez for the day.

Dillon Gee, today’s starter for the Mets against Detroit in Port St. Lucie, does have a spot in the rotation. Just saying.

Also scheduled to pitch today for the Mets are LaTroy Hawkins, Pedro Feliciano, Greg Burke and Josh Edgin.

SANTANA NOT READY: Terry Collins told ESPNNewYork.com yesterday Johan Santana is “not too close,’’ to getting back on the mound.

One has to wonder if Santana’s surprise mound appearance might have set him back. At the time, GM Sandy Alderson was projecting he wouldn’t throw for about ten days.

Whether or not Santana reinjured his shoulder is hard to ascertain, but he didn’t do himself any favors and his progress has been set back.

METS MUSINGS: Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis could resume baseball activities today, but is still a way from getting into a game. I’ll have something more about Nieuwenhuis’ disappointing spring later. … Daniel Murphy will take batting practice again today and could get into a minor league game this weekend. … I wrote yesterday about the Mets taking a look at outfielder Brennan Boesch. There could be mild interest. Perhaps working against Boesch is his age. At 27, one would assume an upside, but if this is so, why was he released? It can’t just be the strained oblique.

Mar 13

Matt Harvey, Bobby Parnell Ripped As Mets Lose

Nearly flawless in his last start, Matt Harvey took his lumps today, but on a positive note rebounded and regained control.

HARVEY: Gives up homer to Harper.

HARVEY: Gives up homer to Harper.

Harvey gave up a three-run homer to Washington’s Bryce Harper in the first inning, but rebounded to throw three scoreless innings and strike out six in an 8-5 loss.

Harvey settled down to retire 11 of the final 12 hitters against him; a very good sign for any pitcher let alone a young one after a rough start.

“I struggled there in the first inning, obviously. I think I came out a little too excited and needed to tone that down a little bit,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I made one bad pitch and it cost me three runs.’’

Harvey said he came out pumped in trying to atone for a three-homer rocking by the Nationals last year in spring training.

Bobby Parnell had a rough outing, giving up four runs in the seventh inning, which included a run-producing error by left fielder Lucas Duda and RBI single by Harper.

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Mar 11

Jordany Valdespin Making Impact

Jordany Valdespin is not an easy person to like, and especially hard to cheer for. Ask a question and he’ll often mumble an indifferent and inaudible answer.

VALDESPIN: Decked by Verlander (AP)

VALDESPIN: Decked by Verlander (AP)

He exudes confidence on the field, but crosses the line with a brash attitude, tendency to showboat and not always hustle. Off the field he wears a bright red baseball cap reading “JV 1.’’ He often carries himself  with an “I own the world,” persona that goes beyond confidence, so much that manager Terry Collins has warned him to tone it down a notch.

Last year, Valdespin fell out of favor with the Mets despite hitting five pinch-hit homers. He didn’t help himself in the offseason when he was suspended in winter ball. Even so, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis out with a bruised left knee and Daniel Murphy sidelined with a strained right side, Valdespin is being given every opportunity to make the roster in the outfield or as a second baseman.

Valdespin has produced, but with a caveat: He plays to his own soundtrack.

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Mar 09

Johan Santana Misses Practice For Treatment

Have you seen Johan Santana?

I found Waldo, but Santana remains among the missing.

WALDO: Have you seen Santana?

WALDO: Have you seen Santana?

That is the question of the day as the increasingly moody left-hander was nowhere to be found despite being scheduled to work out.

Santana has been irritated since the weekend when he threw an unscheduled bullpen session. Manager Terry Collins was unaware and suggested it might be in response to the suggestion by GM Sandy Alderson he wasn’t in top shape when he reported.

Santana, even with his string of injuries that would make anybody depressed, has usually been accessible and friendly. Now, he doesn’t acknowledge hello and blows off the simplest of questions.

Collins excused Santana from today’s workout when the pitcher said he felt it would be better off if he concentrated on physical therapy, such as stretching out his arm.

“We are day to day with him,’’ Collins said. “He’s ready when he’s ready.’’

Collins doesn’t have a date set, but it is closing in on time for a decision to put Santana on the disabled and let Jeremy Hefner prepare himself for Santana’s spot of the staff and Jon Niese to prepare to start Opening Day.

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