Mar 06

All eyes on Santana

“Kid gloves,’’ is the term with how the Mets will treat Johan Santana’s return this afternoon in a split-squad game against St. Louis.

SANTANA: Rehab takes a huge step today.

Santana, recovering from shoulder surgery, is scheduled for two innings or 35 pitches – whichever comes first – and regardless of how he’s doing there will be no debate.

“I’m not going to do anything crazy,’’ said Santana, a phrase he’s uttered several times during his rehab from shoulder surgery. Santana has repeatedly said this is a process and nothing good can come from him overthrowing.

Mechanics and how he responds are what’s important at this stage. Results don’t mean anything, even if he sets down the side in order twice.

“I’m really excited to see him out there,’’ Collins said.  “Obviously (in two days) is when I want to really see how he’s doing, because that will be a test on how he’s going to bounce back.’’

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Aug 27

Mets Chat Room; Pelfrey to continue rebound.

Games #128-129

At one time this season Mike Pelfrey was 9-1 and headed for the All-Star Game in a breakthrough season.

Then July came to derail his year and leave us wondering whether the first half was a fluke, a mirage and whether the good times were over and he had regressed as he went 3-6.

True growth comes from adversity and it looks as if July might become a watershed moment for him as he fought his way out of a tailspin to pitch great ball with a 1.64 ERA over his last three starts.

He’ll continue the rebound tonight against the Houston Astros at Citi Field.

I thought Pelfrey had pitched too good for too long in the first half to lose it completely, but I was concerned. Was it an injury? A loss in mechanics and subsequent loss in confidence?

Whatever it was, Pelfrey is once again pitching aggressively and quickly. That aura about him has returned.

If it comes back to say, it will be one of the highlights of this season.

NOTE: I have programmed the chat room to open around game time. I am currently getting ready to go to New Jersey for a wedding. No, not mine. I won’t be able to monitor t0night or tomorrow, but should be back in time for Sunday’s game.

My best to you, JD


Aug 10

Mets Chat Room; Pelfrey’s slide continues.

It was June, not that long ago when the Mets were surging – 11 games over .500 – and Mike Pelfrey and Ubaldo Jimenez were mentioned in the same sentence as budding pitching stars.

Game #112 vs. Rockies

Jimenez (17-2, 2.61) has been hit briefly, but still has electrifying numbers. Pelfrey, meanwhile, has gone from 9-1 to 10-6 with a 4.16 ERA. Pelfrey’s ERA has spiked nearly two runs a game, and it was eight starts ago that he pitched six complete innings.

Tired arm, tipping his pitches, poor mechanics, losing control of this splitter and sinker and a psychological step backward are just some of the partial explanations for his slide.

There’s not just one answer, but all of the above have contributed to Pelfrey’s slide to where he’s one again a reliability question.

The Mets have been waiting for Pelfrey to take that next step bit of five seasons now. At 200 innings and a 13-11 record in 2008 was a positive. Pelfrey won his first four decisions the following year to give the believe things might have sunk in, but he went 6-12 the rest of the way and the same of problems resurfaced.

Pelfrey seemed to put it together through most of June. He pitched quickly and efficiently; he had command of his secondary, breaking pitching; and he had confidence in his fastball.

All that’s gone now, and based on performance both Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey are ahead.

The slide didn’t happen overnight and neither will the recovery. The Mets falling out of contention coincided with Pelfrey’s fall.

Now, it’s in the remaining two months where Pelfrey needs to right himself and remove his name from being an off-season question.

Aug 05

Pelfrey spits bit; Mets reeling.

The talk prior to the game was how the Mets could ride the momentum behind Jeff Francoeur’s game-winner the night before if Mike Pelfrey would step up.

PELFREY: No positive signs.

Jerry Manuel said he would stress upon Pelfrey the importance of the game – as if he didn’t already know – and the pitcher spoke about snapping out of his funk.

In the end, that’s all it was. Talk.

Pelfrey spit the bit last night in arguably one of the most important starts of his career.

“The team needed me to step up and be a lot better than I have been,’’ Pelfrey said. “I take full responsibility for tonight.’’

Actually, there was plenty of responsibility to go around as Pelfrey complemented perfectly the Mets’ total breakdown. Four errors, three in one nightmarish sixth inning, and a sluggish offense was how the Mets responded to their most important game of the season.

Today, the Mets could have been showing signs of life only 5 1/2 games out of first. Instead, they are 7 1/2  back and floundering as they head into Philadelphia. The Phillies won’t have Ryan Howard or Chase Utley, but does anybody really think that will make a difference this weekend?

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Aug 04

Mets Chat Room; Another gut check for Pelfrey.

There was a time this season when the Mets could count on a win, or at least a good chance at one, when they sent Mike Pelfrey to the mound. For the most part, until late June the Mets knew they’d get a quality start from him.

No longer.

Game #108 vs. Braves

Pelfrey surged to a 9-1 start and was on the cusp of dominance until he lost his mechanics, and not shortly after, his confidence. He’s been in a tailspin since with little indication of snapping out of his funk.

Pelfrey hasn’t gone through six innings in any of his last six starts. In that span he is 0-3 with a 9.59 ERA and hitters are batting an astronomical .446 against him.

Included in that span was a 4-0 loss to the Braves, July 10, when he gave up four runs on 12 hits in four innings.  Pelfrey didn’t get a decision in last Friday’s 9-6 loss to Arizona in which he gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Pelfrey’s problems start early. He didn’t allow a run in the first inning in his first 11 starts, but 16 in his next 10.

“Everybody else in the rotation has been throwing the ball great and I’ve kind of taken a step back from early in the year,’’ said Pelfrey. “I definitely plan on getting this thing turned around and back on track so we can start winning some games.’’

A win tonight at Atlanta will pull the Mets within 5 ½ games of the Braves with a three-game series coming up this weekend at Philadelphia.