Mar 06

Venezuelan Manager Says Johan Santana Is Sad About WBC

Mets fans might remember former Met Luis Sojo for his game-winning hit in Game 5 of the 2000 World Series. He’s now the manager of Venezuela’s WBC team and this morning said he knows Johan Santana is sad for not being able to pitch in the Classic.

Pointing to Santana, Sojo yelled to Mets manager Terry Collins: “He was supposed to pitch for me today. What happened?”

SOJO: Talks about Santana.

SOJO: Talks about Santana.

Santana long-tossed and fielded bunts while throwing off the mound this morning. He has not yet spoken to reporters about the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

“I talked to (Santana) a lot this winter,” Sojo said. “We understand the situation (about Santana not being allowed to pitch by the Mets). It is unfortunate. Right now, I know he’s sad. He has a good relationship with the players. I know how much he wanted to play.”

The Venezuelan team is loaded with Miguel Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval, Carlos Gonzalez and Martin Prado among today’s starters.

Sojo said the controversial Chavez’s death created an emotional cloud in his clubhouse.

“He used to be a baseball guy,” Sojo said. “A lot of times I got the phone call at 7 in the morning. I like to sleep. ‘Hey, that was the president, and he wants to talk to you.’ And after the games, the WBC, he used to call me. I mean, he loved baseball and he knows everybody … all the guys that I used to have on the teams. That was my relationship with him, over the phone.

“One time … I know we got the lead, like three runs in the third inning or fourth inning, and somebody scored five runs. He called me and said, ‘How come you don’t bring [in] Francisco Rodriguez? He said, ‘Hey, he’s the closer, I can pitch him in the fourth, so you should know that.’ ”

Rodriguez is on the Venezuelan team and chatted with Santana and Terry Collins before this afternoon’s game.

 

 

Mar 06

Ike Davis Won’t Be On WBC Team

Ike Davis was on the WBC reserve list but wasn’t asked when Mark Teixeira was injured.

Teammate David Wright was keeping him posted.

DAVIS: Won't be on WBC team.

DAVIS: Won’t be on WBC team.

“I got a text from David,” Davis said. “He said (WBC manager) Joe Torre asked about me. I’m glad they thought of me.”

When asked if Wright put in a good word for him, Davis said: “He said he did … but I didn’t make the team.”

Davis said he would be intrigued to play in the World Baseball Classic.

“I’d get some at-bats, but not as many (if he had a regular spring training,” Davis said. “The games would be more intense. That would be a good way to jump start the season.”

Paul Konerko or Ryan Howard are also on the reserve list.

Mar 06

Mets On Tap Today: Wonder What Johan Santana And Ike Davis Are Thinking?

Good morning from Port St. Lucie, where there’s a chill in the air and the sun is just coming up.

Had dinner last night with a friend on the Mets’ beat and like most people I speak with in the media he’s not enthusiastic about them having a good season.

Drove around a little last night and this place has changed over the past few years. Really built up. New hotels and restaurants, including a sushi place not far from where I am staying.

Walked into the lobby and three hotel staffers remembered me by name. Felt like Norm for Cheers. Was a good feeling.

Heading to camp in a few minutes. David Wright is at the WBC and Johan Santana is still here from when I traveled with the team on a regular basis.

Will make a run at Santana for obvious reasons, including a new one – the president of Venezuela died yesterday. Need to get a reaction from him. Ironically, the Mets are playing the Venezuelan team today.

Also Ike Davis to see what he knows about being added to the WBC now that Mark Teixeira is injured. Yankees can’t be too happy about that. I never have, and never will, be a fan of the Classic. It means so much more to players from other countries, especially Latin America than it does to players from the US. But, Felix Hernandez isn’t pitching (could it be that new contract?) and the Japanese players in the majors aren’t all participating.

Wright is on board, but many big name players are not. Have to wonder why.

No, there are no plans to ask Sandy Alderson whether he plans to jump out of any airplanes. Insert your reaction here.

Lot of Mets fans in the lobby. One lady I remember is a regular. She holds court every morning at breakfast. Had cards promoting the blog made up to pass around. Have to think differently now.

Have a great day folks and I’ll be posting regularly.

 

Feb 18

Mets’ Full-Squad Workouts Start Today; Collins’ Lame-Duck Status

The Mets will have their first full squad workout this morning, prior to which Terry Collins will address his teams. Like I posted last night, don’t expect rah-rah. And, don’t expect the manager to use his lame-duck status as a motivator. He doesn’t work that way.

It must be an odd feeling for Collins to enter the season as a lame duck manager. Ownership and upper management are looking ahead to 2014, when Johan Santana’s contract will be off the books.

Trouble for Collins is he’s thinking about this year because there’s no guarantee of anything beyond while everybody else is thinking of the future.

Collins knows the score, but to his credit he’s not saying anything about it. Fred Wilpon and Sandy Alderson said they are pleased with the job Collins is doing and I’m wondering when that will translate into an extension.

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Jan 18

Santana Wants To Pitch In WBC

I understand Johan Santana’s desire to represent his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. And, not because I’m not crazy about the whole WBC concept.

The Mets have been burned by players being injured in the WBC before – Oliver Perez – and who is to say the fragile Santana won’t come up lame?

Santana is currently on the WBC’s injury-disqualified list because he ended last year on the disabled list, not having pitched after Aug. 17 because of lower back problems. Even so, he wants to push this through.

Santana made his full complement of starts, 34, in 2008, his first season with the Mets, but hasn’t done so since. He didn’t pitch in 2011 following shoulder surgery and made only 21 starts (117 innings) last year.

For this, he has been paid over $100 million and will make $31 million this season (including a $5.5 million buyout for 2014).  For this, he won just 46 games for the Mets and only once game them at least 200 innings.

For Santana to be declared eligible the WBC must clear him physically and then be insured so the Mets aren’t stuck with the entire bill if he does get injured. Privately, Santana getting hurt in the WBC and the Mets not being stuck with his entire salary would be a plus.

SANTANA: Should stay away from WBC this spring.

I realize in today’s world this is an outdated thought, but considering all he has made and stands to make from the Mets, and considering a healthy Santana could make going to Citi Field a good thing this summer – if not for the remote trade possibility – I would have hoped Santana would show the Mets some loyalty.

They made Santana rich beyond his wildest dreams, but never pitched one playoff game for them.

Santana is a smart guy and knows the Mets won’t pick up his option for 2014, but one would hope he’d be smart enough not to risk anything in the WBC. Since he won’t be thinking he owes the Mets to be at his physical peak, if nothing else he should be thinking about staying healthy for somebody else in 2014.

After all, this is all about him.