Gary Sheffield will get his first start tonight for the Mets in right field, which next to Fenway, might be the hardest right field in the majors to play because of all the angles.
He’s got to play sooner or later, but I don’t like the timing after Ryan Church’s first bad game of the season. Then again, Church isn’t a Jerry favorite and they aren’t going to sit Daniel Murphy.
The question is where does Sheffield stand with the Mets? If he gets three hits tonight, he has to play tomorrow. Is he a starter or role player, and if the latter, can he handle that? He’s said all the right things, but it’s April.
The Mets reached agreement with Gary Sheffield on a one-year deal, with the player’s agent, Rufus Williams, saying he wants to play beyond this year: “You don’t show much when you’re sitting on the bench. Gary is going to play beyond this year. It’s important for him to get an opportunity to play. What we’re trying to ensure, wherever he’s going, is that he has an opportunity to participate and perform.”
At first glance, the player who figures to get his at-bats cut most is right fielder Ryan Church. Next would be Daniel Murphy. I don’t see the Mets bringing in a high-profile player such as Sheffield without the intent of playing him.
Sheffield has 499 career homers.
Johan Santana will throw batting today, and if all goes well, five days after that he could throw in a minor league game.
Manager Jerry Manuel said it means Santana could be on track to pitch the “all important’’ Opening Day.
Meanwhile, Luis Castillo is experience tightness in his left hamstring and is day-to-day.
Ryan Church is expected to play this afternoon after missing two games with a bruised right knee.
So much for the platoon in left. Manager Jerry Manuel said it is Daniel Murphy’s job to lose, and he’ll see a lot of time against left-handed pitching. That doesn’t mean Fernando Tatis is useless. He’ll get at-bats in right against left-handed pitching, which means less playing time for Ryan Church.
I like the confidence Manuel is showing in Murphy, and I hope it continues even when there’s an inevitable slump. The onus now is on Church to produce vs. lefties so he stays in the line-up.
Manuel’s thinking is Murphy has less holes in his swing and approach than does Church.
CHURCH: Can he stay healthy?
All winter I trumpeted the need for pitching over adding a bat in the outfield as a priority. I still think pitching is more important. HOWEVER, since the Mets have basically the same rotation as last year, it has given me pause.
I’m not convinced the Mets will have a flawless season with their outfield corners.
I like Ryan Church, but we have to accept that he had two good months before the second concussion did in his season. We don’t know, had he stayed healthy, what kind of year he would have had. So, it stands to reason he’s a question.
Then there is the left field platoon of Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis. The Mets caught lightning in a bottle with them last year. Will they have duplicate seasons? I don’t know.