A lot of things stand out about Opening Day, but two in particular are important to me.
The first is the effort by Sean Green who finished for Johan Santana and worked the seventh. We’re optimistic about JJ Putz and Francisco Rodriguez on the back end, but the bridge to them was an issue. If you go by the weakest link in the chain theory, then there were none yesterday.
It will be interesting to see how Jerry Manuel juggles the back end when he wants to give K-Rod or Putz a day off. Having confidence in a guy like Green makes it all the more easier.
What I didn’t like yesterday was how the Mets hit with RISP. That’s been an on-going problem the last two years. It’s only one game and the weather yesterday was horrible, but another hit or two and the game was a blowout. Playing with a lead is always easier and you know there will be games when the pitching gives it up and it’s not Santana on the mound.
PEREZ: Where is this pitch going?
It’s all well and good that Johan Santana took the time to counsel Oliver Perez after yesterday’s torching. What’s not all well and good is the need for him to do so: Perez had another devilish outing, giving up six runs on six hits with six walks in 4 1/3 innings.
“I am concerned because I don’t see arm strength,’’ pitching coach Dan Warthen said, who, for one, thinks Perez fell behind because of the WBC, where his ERA was 9.45 in two starts.
“I was a little bit reticent when he left [for the Classic], and my worries have come to fruition,’’ Warthen told reporters.
Warthen said Perez put on some weight and doesn’t have the arm strength he needs this late in camp; manager Jerry Manuel said Perez lacks command and velocity.
The Mets were one of the biggest proponents of the WBC, but there’s a difference between pitchers and position players when it comes to getting ready for the season.
Considering how long Perez stayed on the market, and after signing a below-than-what-he-expected three-year, $36 million contract, one would have thought he would have done everything he could to stay in shape and prove his doubters wrong.
With a little less than three weeks before Opening Day, some issues the Mets opened camp with are starting to take focus. Others remain blurred.
Johan Santana, it seems, is on track. My philosophy on injuries is to assume the worst until the player proves otherwise. After a strong 56-pitch outing in a minor league game yesterday, the reports on Santana and his slider are good.
The fifth starter was another issue, and candidates Freddy Garcia (14.40 ERA this spring) and Livan Hernandez (3.72) will work today against the Braves. Garcia, obviously needs a complete turnaround to stay in contention, but coming off injuries, he’s likely to open the season with an extended spring training.
Hernandez has been mostly good, but still hasn’t blown Jerry Manuel away as to where the job is his. And, until he does, there will always be those Pedro Martinez whispers that won’t go away.
Roughly two weeks later than originally thought, Johan Santana pitches tonight. It’s times like these Santana is fond of saying, “I’m not going to do anything crazy.”
Just throw fastballs and work on his mechanics. We shouldn’t get carried away one way or another with him. If he’s lights out or gets lit up, either way, it won’t make or break the season or determine what’s to come.
If he comes out of it sound, that’s all that matters.
SANTANA: Pitched BP today.
Johan Santana threw a 36-pitch bullpen session today and in on target to be ready for Opening Day.
Santana told reporters: “I pitched today with no problems in my elbow or my arm or anything, so I am fine, and at the same time I was working on my pitches and I was able to command it, so that’s what you want to see.
“For being my first time facing hitters, I think it was pretty good. Everything was there — breaking ball was there, my change up was there, my arm speed, my legs are there. That’s what you are looking for. You look for your legs to be there and to feel comfortable, and that’s how I felt.”
Barring a setback Santana could get in a minor league game this week.