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.
General manager Sandy Alderson stopped short of saying manager Terry Collins’ job was secure, but in a conference call this week, left the impression he will be judged with a broad paintbrush.
COLLINS: He’s smiling now.
As GM, Alderson’s job description entails building for the future, while his lame duck manager has nothing guaranteed beyond this season.
That doesn’t mean the two perspectives can’t co-exist.
Collins’ extension will be assured if the Mets have a winning season, but even if they don’t – very possible considering their holes – he could be back in the dugout in 2014, when the spending is supposed to begin.
“Well I think there are two things upon which a manager is evaluated,’’ Alderson said. “One is wins and losses, and the other is the improvement of the players on the team. And regardless of whether you have a veteran-dominated team or a younger team, players have to improve.
“And more importantly, they have to be motivated to improve, and that’s really partly where the manager comes in. I think that Terry will be evaluated on both of those bases, with the understanding that the wins and losses are not an absolute – to some extent they are relative to the talent that we have.’’
GM Sandy Alderson said not to discount Jordany Valdespin as a potential leadoff hitter. Valdespin had two singles in that role in last night’s 4-4 tie with Washington.
Valdespin played second base last night and will get a chance to play the outfield. There is a chance Valdespin could make the roster at second if Daniel Murphy isn’t ready.
Murphy will be out for another week to ten days with a strained muscle in his right side.
Valdespin made a bad impression with the Mets last year because of his lack of hustle, and compounded that by being suspended in winter ball. He’s been the good soldier so far this spring.
If history taught us anything, it is to not rely on a Mets manager for an injury diagnosis.
So, forgive me if I don’t totally buy into Terry Collins’ declaration of Zack Wheeler’s right oblique strain “is not that bad.’’
Of course, somebody else’s injuries usually aren’t.
Wheeler already missed one start, and the Mets’ current plans have him missing at least one more. The thinking is he’ll have a bullpen session Tuesday and get in a game in three more days. Of course, that’s all predicated on Wheeler coming out of the bullpen with no tightness or pain.