Mar 13

March 13.10: Perez tries to improve vs. Tigers.

The Mets liked that Oliver Perez threw strikes is his first start. It would have been nice if he’d gotten some hitters out. The Mets need to see improvement today from Perez in his start against Detroit.

The Mets’ projected rotation of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Perez, John Maine and Jon Niese have all worked, with only Maine pitching effectively. But, it’s early and still time for the others to get into a grove.

Perez is coming off a miserable start last Sunday against Washington in which he gave up five runs on seven hits in three innings.

Perez did come out of the start with not problems to his right knee (offseason surgery) and that he threw 33 of 49 pitches for strikes.

Here’s today’s line-up against Detroit:

Angel Pagan, LF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, DH
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Gary Matthews, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Alex Cora, SS

Perez will be followed by Hisanori Takahashi, Nelson Figueroa, Sean Green and Bobby Parnell. If it works out where innings are available, Jenrry Mejia will pitch.

Mar 09

March 9.10: Santana hammered.

It wasn’t a good day for Johan Santana, who gave up four runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings in today’s loss to Houston.

Santana, who is coming off elbow surgery was clocked in the low 90s and reported no discomfort or pain.

“They made me work today,’’ Santana told reporters. “They were swinging right away. But I felt good because I was able to throw all of my pitches.

“I was a little bit off with my mechanics, releasing the ball. That’s part of spring training. That’s what we’re here for, trying to make adjustments and throw all of my pitches. The good thing is I felt good. I didn’t feel any problem in my arm. So that’s good.’’

Also today:

* Mike Pelfrey’s threw today and said his bruised right knee is fine and he’s on for Thursday’s start.

* Francisco Rodriguez threw in the bullpen today. He’ll throw again tomorrow and is scheduled to pitch Saturday.

* Fred Wilpon returned to Port St. Lucie.

* Jenrry Mejia is still turning heads but GM Omar Minaya said he’s still slated for the minor leagues. The Mets are stretching out Mejia’s outings to build up his stamina to be a minor league starter.

Mar 09

March 9.10: All eyes on Santana today.

Johan Santana reported to spring training feeling brash, talking about such things as winning a Cy Young Award and more importantly, a World Series.

Always confident, but what gave Santana the push is that his surgically-repaired left elbow feels good, strong and sound.

Last season long since lost, Santana shut it down in August and had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow – the second time he’s had such surgery.

“I’m able to let it go,’’ said Santana, who’ll do it for the first time this spring in a game against Houston.

Santana has been reporting full extension in his release. So far no problems in his bullpen sessions.

“I am able to throw my fastball with no problems and throw my breaking balls and my change-up without feeling that sharp pain in the back of my elbow now,’’ Santana said. “I am able to throw all my pitches pain free, so that’s a big plus for me.’’

Full arm extension means a better release point, which adds bite to his slider.

“Now I am able to extend my arm and release the ball in front of me and be able to throw my slider,’’ Santana said. “It’s a big difference from last year. I am able to now throw my pitches and let everything go. Last year I wasn’t able to do that.’’

This is huge news for the Mets, who opened camp with questions to their entire rotation, but Santana changes the entire dynamic of the team. If he’s healthy he gives the Mets a good chance to win every five days; if not, an already suspect rotation falls into disarray.

For a team desperate for positive health news, having Santana back eliminates one headache.

Mar 07

March 7.10: Looking at the day.

PEREZ: Not a good day.

The good news was obvious, the X-Ray on Mike Pelfrey’s right knee was negative and pitcher Hisanori Takahashi struck out six in three innings.

Based on today’s appearance, Jerry Manuel said they’d have to find a spot for him among the 12 pitchers he’d take north. But, that’s based on today.

Today’s real story line was really about Oliver Perez. Manuel has been raving about how he’s been throwing this spring. There were two positive signs in today’s ugly performance, beginning with no pain in his elbow. He gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk in three innings. But, he was around the plate, throwing 33 of 49 pitches for strikes. That’s a positive.

I’ve been critical of Perez, and he does drive you crazy, but I wrote earlier in spring that I would look at the good from him as a bonus.

I suppose another way of saying that is I don’t expect much. That way I can’t be disappointed.

Mar 03

March 3.10: Positive reports so far on Perez.

It’s only spring training, and more to the point, it is only throwing off the mound and batting practice in spring training, but the reports so far have been good on Oliver Perez, beginning with his upbeat attitude and showing up in good shape.

PEREZ: Hoping for the best.

Perez spent the offseason working out as a sports institute in Arizona, where he worked on his conditioning and mechanics.

It is the latter where the first spring impression has been the greatest, with Perez throwing with a consistency, from his wind-up to his arm slot to his delivery. The result has been a better command and movement on his pitches. This is also something Sandy Koufax preached to Perez during his visits to Port St. Lucie.

Perez, entering the second season of a three-year contract, is slotted third in the rotation behind Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. In 2007, Perez won 15 games for the Mets to give us a glimpse of what could be. The last two years he’s shown more of those glimpses, but all too often gave us the Bad Ollie.

The Mets, thinking of those positive moments, didn’t bite on rotation help this winter, instead believing in the promise of Perez and Pelfrey. So far, the Mets have been pleased with how he’s throwing, but we’ve heard that before.

Spring training is for the promise of better things, and here’s hoping Perez keeps the headscratching to a minimum this year.