Mar 24

March 24.10: Wrapping up the Day.

Jose Reyes returned to camp today, but couldn’t guarantee he’d be ready for Opening Day. And, Reyes said his leg won’t enable him to go all out anytime soon, so he’s got to take it easy.

Jerry Manuel said he doesn’t expect Reyes to be playing by this weekend, telling reporters: “I couldn’t give you a timetable, but it sure is good to have him back.’’

Reyes didn’t run at full speed, but participated in workouts and said he expects to feel sore tomorrow. Reyes said doctors told him he had a virus that elevated his levels and he has diet restrictions, such as not being able to eat seafood.

* Johan Santana gave up two runs on eight hits and one walk in 5 2/3 innings.

* Doc Gooden was arrested Tuesday morning for driving under the influence. Is he ever going to get it together?

* It appears the fifth starter job is Jon Niese’s to lose with Fernando Nieve and Hisanori Takahashi trying to earn spots in the bullpen.

* Several reports have the Mets trying to deal outfielder Gary Matthews for pitching. But, considering where Matthews is in his career, what could he bring in return?

Mar 19

March 19.10: Looking at the pen.

Jerry Manuel said if prospect Jenrry Mejia makes the roster coming out of spring training, it won’t be in the set-up role but in low pressure situations.

If that’s the case, then isn’t he better off in the minor leagues pitching in the role the Mets envision for him immediately?

I just see the Mets doing the same yanking around with him they did with Bobby Parnell. Speaking of Parnell, his spot on the roster could be in jeopardy if fifth-starter candidate Hisanori Takahashi makes it as a reliever.

Takahashi will start the March 27 game against Washington. He has worked 8 1/3 scoreless innings in three appearances in competing with Jon Niese and Fernando Nieve for the fifth-starter role. The more I think of Takahashi as a fifth starter, the more I wonder. His numbers are good, but he hasn’t exactly been stretched out this spring and one start won’t do it, thereby making him more suitable for the bullpen.

PEN NOTES: Kiko Calero and Ryota Igarashi are in good shape as far as making the roster. … Pedro Feliciano was hit on the right knee by a grounder and left last night’s game. Feliciano was able to throw warm-ups after the injury and is expected to be fine. … Either Sean Green or Parnell could also be in trouble if the Mets sign left-hander Joe Beimel.

LIKING JACOBS: Manuel likes Mike Jacobs as a back-up first baseman and pinch hitter. The word is he’s been better than expected defensively. Jacobs has two homers this spring.

MANUEL ENDORSES CORA: After last night’s game Manuel endorsed Alex Cora over Ruben Tejada to play shortstop while Jose Reyes is down. That’s not to say Tejada will automatically be ticketed to the minor leagues.

Mar 18

March 18.10: What’s Jerry’s thinking about the fifth starter?

With most managers, at least those with security, their objectives are a balance between winning today and building for the future. That can’t be said for the Mets’ Jerry Manuel, who has joked about the importance of a fast start for the preservation of his job.

There’s truth in humor.

Manuel presided over the late season collapse of 2008 and full season free fall of 2009, and knows the Mets must contend, if not get to the playoffs and win a round, if he’s to return next year. Manuel’s job is on the line, and with it there’s a sense of urgency of being competitive immediately.

Given that, it stands to reason Manuel’s decisions, like that of choosing his fifth starter, will be to give him the best chance of winning now as opposing for building for the future, because quite simply, he has no guarantee of a future.

Manuel’s comments the other day that he’d like to see Hisanori Takahashi start a game this spring suggests strongly he’s being seriously considered for the fifth starter role. Takahashi has been superb in six scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out nine.

“What we have seen so far is he really has the ability to pitch and pitch with all his pitches,” Manuel said. “He probably is our sharpest pitcher right now, as far as everything hitting where he wants it to hit.”

If not Takahashi, then perhaps Fernando Nieve. Nelson Figueroa will be sent out to clear waivers, and Jon Niese, who went into spring training the favorite, will be sent out because he has options remaining.

Niese might be the fifth starter down the road, but Manuel doesn’t have the luxury of letting him learn on the job. As long as Takahashi is getting batters out, the Mets have a chance to win, and that means Manuel has a better chance to stick around.

Mar 13

March 13.10: Perez tries to improve vs. Tigers.

The Mets liked that Oliver Perez threw strikes is his first start. It would have been nice if he’d gotten some hitters out. The Mets need to see improvement today from Perez in his start against Detroit.

The Mets’ projected rotation of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Perez, John Maine and Jon Niese have all worked, with only Maine pitching effectively. But, it’s early and still time for the others to get into a grove.

Perez is coming off a miserable start last Sunday against Washington in which he gave up five runs on seven hits in three innings.

Perez did come out of the start with not problems to his right knee (offseason surgery) and that he threw 33 of 49 pitches for strikes.

Here’s today’s line-up against Detroit:

Angel Pagan, LF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, DH
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Gary Matthews, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Alex Cora, SS

Perez will be followed by Hisanori Takahashi, Nelson Figueroa, Sean Green and Bobby Parnell. If it works out where innings are available, Jenrry Mejia will pitch.

Mar 07

March 7.10: Looking at the day.

PEREZ: Not a good day.

The good news was obvious, the X-Ray on Mike Pelfrey’s right knee was negative and pitcher Hisanori Takahashi struck out six in three innings.

Based on today’s appearance, Jerry Manuel said they’d have to find a spot for him among the 12 pitchers he’d take north. But, that’s based on today.

Today’s real story line was really about Oliver Perez. Manuel has been raving about how he’s been throwing this spring. There were two positive signs in today’s ugly performance, beginning with no pain in his elbow. He gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk in three innings. But, he was around the plate, throwing 33 of 49 pitches for strikes. That’s a positive.

I’ve been critical of Perez, and he does drive you crazy, but I wrote earlier in spring that I would look at the good from him as a bonus.

I suppose another way of saying that is I don’t expect much. That way I can’t be disappointed.