Johan Santana made his spring debut on Thursday
The Mets welcomed back their ace on Thursday night when Johan Santana returned to the mound to face off against the Florida Marlins. Santana's effectiveness wavered during his outing, but he felt no pain afterwards which left everyone feeling positive that he is on target for Opening Day.
Johan Santana never questioned his availability for Opening Day in Cincinnati
on April 6. He converted any doubters in his 2009 Grapefruit League debut March 12, when he tossed 47 pitches over 2 2/3 innings against the Marlins.
Santana had been slowed early in camp by left elbow tightness.
"I knew it all the time that I was fine," Santana said. "I didn't question
anything. It's just that I had a little setback, worked out and did all the
treatment I was supposed to do, and then got back on track."
Santana, one day shy of his 30th birthday, was charged with three runs on
four hits while striking out two and walking none against Florida. He
surrendered a second-inning homer to Dan Uggla, on a first-pitch fastball.
"Most of the time they're going to attack me early," Santana said. "At the
same time, this is just my first game. I just want to get everything going with my fastball, my changeup and my slider more than anything."
Said Uggla: "He's out here working on stuff. I thought he pitched well. I
happened to get lucky on a fastball and put a pretty good swing on it."
Following Santana, the Mets are expected to use Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez
in a season-opening series against the Reds, then have John Maine open the
second series against the Marlins in Miami. The early favorite for the fifth
starter's role is Livan Hernandez.
--OF Angel Pagan underwent arthroscopic surgery at the Hospital for Special
Surgery in Manhattan on March 11 to address a bone spur in his right elbow. He's expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks. The injury increases the likelihood that Jeremy Reed will break camp as the Mets' defensive specialist in the outfield, succeeding departed Endy Chavez in that role.
--RHP Duaner Sanchez, who never regained the form he displayed before a July
31, 2006, traffic accident that resulted in a separated shoulder, was released. The Mets were obligated to pay Sanchez $276,339 of his $1,687,500 salary. Sanchez's departure may open the door for rookie RHP Bobby Parnell or RHP Darren O'Day, a Rule 5 pick from the Angels, to break camp with the Mets.
"In fairness to him, and in fairness to us, we just felt that, look, if he's
not going to be on the team, let's make a decision on this now," GM Omar Minaya said of Sanchez. "At the same time, it gives him the opportunity to be with another club."
--SS Jose Reyes' return to camp came sooner than expected. Reyes' Dominican
Republic team was bounced in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic
after two losses to the Netherlands. Manager Jerry Manuel appears to be leaning toward returning Reyes to the leadoff spot after experimenting with the speedster in the No. 3 slot early in camp. But because of Reyes' quick return from the WBC, Manuel still has time to try lineup configurations this spring.
--RHP Mike Pelfrey missed a start after suffering a strain in his left ankle.
But Pelfrey threw a side session March 11 off a bullpen mound and is expected to return to the Mets' rotation during the weekend of March 14-15 after skipping just one turn. Pelfrey is expected to start Game 2 of the season in Cincinnati on April 8, following Opening Day starter Johan Santana.
--OF Bobby Kielty gave up switch-hitting for a week to focus on making the team as a right-handed bat for the bench. Kielty then abandoned the idea and resumed hitting from the left side as well. He felt uncomfortable seeing sliders from right-handers while batting from the right side.
--RHP Tim Redding, slowed early in camp by shoulder discomfort, allowed five
runs, including a pair of homers, and was pulled after one-third of an inning in the Mets' 18-7 win against the University of Michigan in his spring debut March 8. The Mets annually play the Wolverines because principal owner Fred Wilpon is a Michigan alum. Redding then returned to the mound four days later and allowed nine runs, including three homers, against the Marlins. Redding, a fifth-starter candidate, has a guaranteed $2.25 million deal and is expected to be the Mets' long reliever.
--LHP Tom Martin broke his right wrist in a fall down a staircase, a Mets
spokesman said. The team reassigned him to its minor league camp on March 13.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Uniform number worn by David Wright at the World
Baseball Classic. Wright's usual number, 5, is being donned by Team USA manager Davey Johnson.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Unbelievable. He was fantastic. He looked like he was loose and comfortable on the mound, too. He threw a lot of strikes. He threw hard. I think 91, 90 mph. Last year he had some tightness in his shoulder, but now he looks relaxed. He knows what he's doing there. He looks ready. Whoever signs him, he's going to do good." -- SS Jose Reyes, on Dominican Republic teammate and ex-Met Pedro Martinez's showing in the World Baseball Classic.