The Mets 3-Day Mini Camp got underway yesterday and not surprisingly it was chock full of several interesting storylines, player updates and revealing quotes. Rather than flood the blog with a dozen or so individual posts, I hope you don’t mind an extensive recap instead for each of the three days beginning with this mornings recap of Day One. Lets get started…
Johan Santana – All eyes will be on Johan Santana today as he throws off the mound for the first time since undergoing surgery on September 1st. (fingers crossed) Santana did say he feels good and that he’ll be ready to make his start on Opening Day, but as us Mets fans know, seeing is believing. Santana did some long tossing with Oliver Perez and looked fluid and loose out there.
“Right now we just have to focus on the pitches — to make sure we get over 90 pitches by Opening Day,” Santana said. “That’s exactly what we did last year, and I felt pretty good last year. We’ll see exactly where we end up with the program once spring training starts.”
Oliver Perez – A slimmed down Perez showed up to camp sporting a new beard and a new positive attitude to go with it. His knee is fine, he’s lost 10 pounds, he long tossed with no problems, and unlike last season, he did a lot of smiling. Johan Santana spent a lot of time with Perez yesterday and the hope is that Perez does a lot of listening and learning from the Mets ace. During their long toss, two of Ollie’s throws sailed over the fence. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
“I understand what happened last year — that can happen to anybody,” Perez said. “If I’m healthy, I know what kind of pitcher I am. Right now I don’t feel anything with the knee and that’s why I feel real happy. I feel real strong and I’m excited to get back and start the season.”
Jon Niese – Niese is probably a long shot to make the rotation or even the bullpen if the Mets acquire another starter, however he too threw off a mound for the first time since tearing his right hamstring while covering first base last August. Niese will probably be the first pitcher called up if somebody falters in the rotation or gets injured.
Jose Reyes - Jose Reyes was expected to attend the mini camp and give the trainers a look at how he’s progressed from the calf and hamstring problems that wiped out his 2009 season. So far he is listed as a no-show. This is worth keeping an eye on. If Reyes is not ready in time for Opening Day, Alex Cora will most likely replace him. It doesn’t seem like there has been as much focus on Reyes’ rehab as there has been with Oliver Perez.
Omir Santos / Josh Thole - Unless the Mets have a sudden change of mind and go after free agent catchers Rod Barajas or Yorvit Torrealba, Santos will be the Mets everyday catcher according to statements made by both Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel yesterday. However, Manuel wasn’t ready to rule out Josh Thole as you can read in the following statement.
“And we definitely will continue to take a good look at Josh. The one thing about Josh that is definitely different than Omir is that Josh kind of balances out the lineup. He’s a lefthanded hitter. We’ll take a look at him and talk to the people who saw him in winter ball and see how much progression he made and go from there. It’s not out of the question.”
Angel Pagan / Gary Matthews Jr. – The fear mongers would have you believe that Matthews would get the nod to replace Carlos Beltran until he returns from knee surgery. Don’t believe a word of it. Angel Pagan has the big edge and will be your Opening Day starting centerfielder. We already knew that at Mets Merized, and yesterday Jerry Manuel confirmed it. Manuel said he needs and expects Pagan to jump start the team next season.
“He played extremely well there for us as far as statistically speaking. He hit .300, had a number of triples, a number of doubles. He played well. And at least the last couple of years he’s started off real well. So we need that.”
Jerry Manuel On Rotation – The Mets outspoken manager didn’t mince words when he said he wasn’t all that impressed with the free agent crop of starting pitchers beyond John Lackey. He’s probably right.
“I don’t think the inventory out there is great,” Manuel said. “It’s not to say that you don’t like to have a starting pitcher, but I didn’t think the pool of people in free-agency was something where you say, dang this is going to be great.”
Side Notes – John Maine didn’t make it in for day one due to travel and weather complications, but he is expected to be in Port St. Lucie today and throw off a mound. Omar Minaya said “the Mets are not a joke”, when asked about how the organization is perceived. He also conceded that the Phillies made significant improvements to what was already the class of the National League, and that the Mets will be focused and motivated to succeed in 2010. Minaya arrived to min camp along with fellow execs Jeff Wilpon, John Ricco and Wayne Krivsky.
We’ll keep you updated throughout the day should anything significant happen, otherwise look for another recap like this tomorrow morning.
For live updates from Mets Mini Camp, be sure to check in with Adam Rubin on his blog Surfing The Mets.