Good Saturday morning. A little talk in the clubhouse about the USA losing last night to Mexico. The operative word being “little.’’
I’ve only been here a few days, but trust me on this one, after doing 20 some spring trainings the days are usually all alike. We’re usually in the clubhouse by 7:45 in the morning, sometimes earlier depending on where the game is that day.
The first thing most players do is head straight to a corner wall where the lineup is posted. Most guys know the night before if they’ll be playing, but it is a force of habit for many.
The Mets’ clubhouse has changed over the years. Once shamed about not honoring their past, photos of Mets’ alumni are plastered over the walls. Tom Seaver, Ed Kranepool, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, Mookie Wilson and Jerry Koosman.
Always fun to look at.
Jordany Valdespin sat by his locker, his eyes glued to a television showing Phillies-Nationals highlights. However, his mind seemed elsewhere, but apparently not on his quest to be the Opening Day leadoff hitter in center.
“They have a decision to make, and the only thing I can do is keep playing hard and give them something to think about,’’ Valdespin said. “I can’t make the decision. I have to play hard and see what happens in spring training.’’
Valdespin rarely made eye contact, instead kept on watching the television.
Players hit in the cages this morning as it rained here. The weather here has been awful; rainy and chilly. Nothing sun drenched about PSL these days.
Those hitting include Daniel Murphy, who took an injection for a strained intercostal muscle on his right side.
Also on the injury front, Jenrry Mejia was examined in New York yesterday for a thyroid issue and Zack Wheeler threw on flat ground and will do so again today. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is hobbling around with a bruised left knee.
Here’s today’s lineup against the Venezuelan team:
Mike Baxter, rf
Collin Cowgill, dh
Ike Davis, 1b
Marlon Byrd, cf
Lucas Duda, lf
Justin Turner, 2b
John Buck, c
Zach Lutz, 3b
Ruben Tejada, ss
Jonathan Niese, lhp
It is not surprising that GM Sandy Alderson indicated today it is “less and less likely,’’ Johan Santana
would be ready for Opening Day.
Alderson attributed that to Santana not being in good shape when he reported to spring training because he didn’t go through his normal off-season routine after extensive rehabbing the previous two winters.
“From my standpoint, his arm is fine, as far as we know,’’ Alderson told reporters. “Was he ready to pitch when he came into camp? No. Even he may have been a little surprised by that.
“So that leaves us where we are today. And where we are today is getting him ready to pitch as soon as we possibly can. We haven’t rule out Opening Day, although given when we think he might get on the mound, it becomes less and less likely. We haven’t given up on that notion yet. And we’ll see where it takes us.’’
The Mets are kidding themselves in thinking Santana has a chance to make the Opening Day start because he hasn’t thrown off the mound since Feb. 19.
Jonathan Niese will start if Santana opens the season on the disabled list. In that scenario, ESPN reports the earliest Santana could start would be the sixth game of the season.
Also expected to open the season on the disabled list is closer Frank Francisco, meaning Bobby Parnell will get that opportunity.
Jonathan Niese, whom I called the Mets’ most significant starter at the opening of training camp, threw three scoreless innings Friday against Detroit.
A key for Niese will be how he controls his change-up.
Niese, incidentally, will be the Opening Day starter if Johan Santana can’t go. I say book it. No way would Terry Collins send Matt Harvey out there just ten starts into his career.
Harvey will get the ball his afternoon against Miami.
As far as pitching assignments go, figure Bobby Parnell as the closer because Frank Francisco, who is down with a sore elbow, will likely not be ready.
AROUND THE HORN: David Wright leaves today for the World Baseball Classic. (I’ll have something on the WBC later today). … Lucas Duda was a scratch yesterday because of a medical issue. The Mets are saying it is minor. … Daniel Murphy has started hitting off a tee. He’s nine days away from playing in a game.