Mets manager Willie Randolph announced yesterday that injured reliever Duaner Sanchez had been sent home for the day for repeated lateness. "He had been a little tardy for a couple of days," Randolph said. "We have a rule of being on time, so I sent him home to where he lives ." Randolph said he expects Sanchez back today. Sanchez has not yet thrown off a mound in spring training as he recovers from shoulder surgery but hopes to be ready for Opening Day. I also read in one of the morning papers that one of the players said he had been late 4 consecutive days and each day he was later than the day before.
The Mets reassigned 14 players to minor-league camp, including pitcher Kevin Mulvey, first baseman Michel Abreu and outfield prospect Fernando Martinez. Also sent packing were pitchers Clint Nageotte, Jorge Vasquez, Willie Collazo and Eddie Camacho; catchers Joe Hieptas, Drew Butera, Mike Nickeas and Francisco Pena; and outfielders Chip Ambres and Victor Mendez. LHP Adam Bostick was optioned to the minor-league camp. I hope that Joe Smith and Ben Johnson make the Opening Day roster. Keep your fingers crossed.
El Duque made his spring training debut for the Mets yesterday, nearly three weeks after getting a cortisone shot to treat a case of arthritis at the base of his neck. Arthritis is not a condition usually associated with major-league pitchers, but as Hernandez has proven throughout his career, he is unique. Hernandez went two innings and allowed five runs and six hits in the Mets’ 8-7 loss to the Orioles. Throw out the results – Hernandez already has – and call the outing a success because El Duque said he did not feel pain. I’m not worried about El Duque at all.
Shawn Green has spent the past two days working on his swing with teammates Julio Franco and Carlos Beltran. After striking out in his first two at-bats yesterday, making him 0-for-15 in spring training, Green decided he was thinking too much. In his next at-bat, he grounded a single to right for his first hit of 2007. "I don’t care; any time you’re 0-for-whatever, it always feels good. Even if it’s spring training," said Green, who went 2-for-5 as the designated hitter. I hope he doesn’t strain his neck looking over his shoulder as much as he does.
The Mets didn’t come right out and say it, but Pelfrey took a giant step toward forcing his way on to the major-league staff with an impressive performance in yesterday’s 8-7 loss to the Orioles at Tradition Field. "I thought he was outstanding," Randolph said. "He threw the ball great today. No one had any good swings against him. He was, at times, knocking the glove off the catcher, the ball was moving so rapidly. It’s exciting to watch him work, man. He’s getting better and you can see that every time he goes out."
Relievers Scott Schoeneweis and Joe Smith continued their strong camps with a scoreless inning apiece in the Mets’ 8-7 loss to the Orioles. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Mets bullpen will be even better this season than in 2006 when it was among the best in baseball. I say that because I consider Schoeneweis, Burgos and Vargas/Sosa, to be an upgrade over Roberto Hernandez, Chad Bradford, and Darren Oliver. Incidentally, if you liked Bradford, than you will love fellow side-armer Joe Smith who throws much harder than Chad.
Outfielder Ben Johnson had a two-run home run in the eighth inning. Johnson continues to impress the Mets with his quick bat and powerful stroke. It looks like it will be a showdown for the number 5 outfielder spot. But I will go as far as to say that I wouldn’t be surprised if Shawn Green is sitting on the bench when the Mets take the field on Opening Day. I’m not saying that will happen, only that if it did, it wouldn’t come as a shock to me.
Single-game tickets for Mets home games go on sale Sunday at 11 a.m. and can also be purchased online at mets.com or losmets.com, at Shea Stadium or by telephone at (718) 507-8499. Seats for the April 9 home opener against Philadelphia and the May 18-20 series against the Yankees are sold out.