Twinkies could make a triumphant return this summer, but will Johan Santana? Hostess is selling the Twinkies brand, but the Mets can’t unload Santana so their best option is to hope he mends, then hope for the best.
SANTANA: Speaks on B-Day.
Terry Collins already named Jonathan Niese the Opening Day starter if Santana can’t go, but isn’t ready to tell the veteran left-hander he’s not going to make it north with everybody else in April.
Santana, who celebrated his 34th birthday with a cake at the Mets complex in Port St. Lucie before the team went off to play the Washington Nationals, hasn’t been on the mound since he forced the issue seven days ago.
Santana said he’s not ready to set a date when he’ll return, and acknowledged rehabbing after each of his four seasons with the Mets has taken a toll. Last winter, he took it easy and was not happy when the Mets said he wasn’t in good shape. He also admitted age makes it difficult.
“I want to make sure that whenever that day is, I’m ready to go and good to go for the whole year and not just good for one game,’’ Santana told ESPNNewYork.com this morning. “Then two weeks later they have to shut me down. I don’t want that. I want to make sure that whenever I’m on the mound, I’m on the mound for good.
“As you get older, you have to work more. There’s no question about it. But you have to know yourself very well. That’s what I do. I’m listening to my body the whole time. When you need time, you take time to make sure you move forward. You don’t want a step back.’’
We’re heading into the time in spring training when players get released, and the Mets should be all over this: Brennan Boesch was released this morning by the Tigers.
BOESCH: Worth a look
He’s an outfielder. He has some power. And, he’s still breathing. What’s not to like? And, he’s coming off a strained oblique muscle, so he should fit right in with the Mets.
Boesch is a lifetime .259 hitter with 42 homers in three years as a role player with the Tigers. He can play both outfield corners, which is an obvious need for New York.
Boesch is to make $2.3 million this year and is arbitration eligible for next winter. At 27, he’s not, well, he’s not Marlon Byrd. Boesch appeared to have a breakthrough season in 2011 when he hit .283 with 16 homers, but he missed the postseason with a thumb injury.
He regressed last year, and his strikeouts spiked to 104. Maybe it was just a bad year or perhaps there were lingering effects from the thumb injury. Whatever, he’s still young enough where he can rebound.
It was a little over a week ago when the Mets pointed to March 14 as the target date for getting Johan Santana in an exhibition game. Doing so would have given him three, maybe four starts to be ready for Opening Day.
It won’t happen.
Outside of that ill-advised mound session, we haven’t seen, or heard, much from the testy lefty this spring. Today, he sniped at reporters who had the gall to try to talk to him – imagine that? – giving a curt response about not understanding the concept of an off day.
SANTANA: Rough times
By definition, an off day is when no game is scheduled. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything going on. There was a reason why Santana was at the complex, just as there was a reason reporters were present.
At the time of the projection, Terry Collins said, “we’re not worried about April 1, we’re worried about 30 starts.’’
At this rate, it doesn’t look as if he’ll get either, even if Santana was pushed to the back of the rotation for the first cycle. Whether he’s ready or not, Santana’s last two exhibition starts would come against minor league competition, because if he were placed on the disabled list to the start the season the Mets could backdate it into spring training.
This reduces the time Santana would miss in the regular season although it is highly unlikely he would reach the 215 innings plateau needed to activate his 2014 option. I don’t know what the Mets are waiting for if not to placate Santana’s ego. He won’t be ready for the start of the season and the decision the Mets are avoiding is only inevitable.
Do not read into Zack Wheeler’s demotion that the Mets think Jenrry Mejia will replace Johan Santana on the roster and in the rotation.
When I asked Terry Collins of his preparation plans for life without Santana to start the season, the name Jeremy Hefner was only one to pop out. And, without hesitation.
MEJIA: May pitch today.
Collin McHugh, who was also demoted to the minor league camp, made spot starts last year and could be in position again if something were to develop with Hefner.
Mejia’s development this spring was hindered when he reported late because of a visa issue and was further delayed with the thyroid ailment. He is scheduled to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Pitchers start at two innings or 30 pitches and like to work up to seven innings and 100 pitches. There’s no way Mejia can build himself up to that with the time remaining in camp.
Mejia was on the travel squad this morning to Lakeland, where the Mets will play the Tigers again.
The Mets set back Mejia’s career when they rushed him to the majors as a reliever – there was no set relief role – then optioned him back to the minors as a starter at which time he injured his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.
There are few television analysts as knowledgeable and entertaining as Keith Hernandez, who, if you asked him the time would tell you how to build a watch.
HERNANDEZ: Don’t forget to tip your waitresses.
Not only does he know baseball, but today showed he could work on Animal Planet, The Weather Channel and do QVC, which ironically has its corporate headquarters across the street from Tradition Field.
When the Mets are in Washington, always expect a history lesson.
After the starting pitcher leaves the game during spring training, writers wander in and out of the pressroom and clubhouse, where the televisions are always on.
Today, Hernandez was in mid-season form, talking about the spinner sharks gathering off the beaches on the Atlantic post; how to survive a tornado; and hawked Icky Poo, a product designed to eliminate pet odors.
When somebody in the pressroom asked: “What is Icky Poo?”
As if on que, one writer said: `He’s coming into pitch.”