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.
SANTANA: Are they sure?
He’s easily the most important Met. How far they go this season is dependant on Johan Santana’s elbow, his shoulder, and his knee – every part of him.
October will be yet another empty month if Santana is injured and misses a substantial part of the season.
The appearance is the Mets aren’t on the same page on a timetable when a day after pitching coach Dan Warthen’s itinerary had Santana missing Opening Day the two-time Cy Young winner said he thought differently.
Santana threw 46 pain-free bullpen pitches Wednesday and the tenor has changed. Santana, manager Jerry Manuel said, isn’t a like everybody else, telling reporters in Port St. Lucie: “You have templates that you like to follow, and everybody don’t fit those templates. That’s why he is who he is.’’
I don’t think anybody doubts Santana’s competitiveness. All you have to do is think back to his last start of the season on a bum knee that required surgery.
This guy throws with his guts as much as he does his arm, and part of me can’t help but wonder if the Mets are doing with Santana what they did with Pedro Martinez, which is let him call the shots.
If they thought he needed a MRI a week ago, then why not go through with it and be sure?
When you do the math, if Johan Santana makes his first spring training start March 18, he’ll be in line to make his regular season debut April 11 at Miami.
That works out better, skipping frosty Cincinnati for Florida after five spring training appearances.
Nobody seems all that concerned. Newsday’s Dave Lennon suggested Jerry Manuel won’t watch Santana work in the bullpen today as to downplay the situation.
Interesting point, and one that makes some sense.
However, what it doesn’t do is make Santana’s elbow feel any better.
Said Manuel: “I haven’t even discussed Johan. I’m not real concerned with Johan at this point, as far as what he’s doing, as far as sides, those types of things. I’m just glad to see him every day.’’