Mets’ imported arms, Ryota Igarashi and Hisanori Takahashi threw bullpens Monday, within hours of their arrivals. Igarashi is locked into the bullpen since he has a two-year major-league deal. He will be pairing with the over-worked lefty “Perpetual” Pedro Feliciano for the set up job.
Takahashi, who spent 10 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, is a lefthander on a minor-league contract, trying to get on the roster as the fifth starter—which he feels more comfortable doing than working as a second lefthander in the pen behind Pedro Feliciano or as the long man.
“I’m thinking about starting because I started for 10 years in Japan, so I know how it goes,” Takahashi said through an interpreter. As for how Day 1 went, he added: “I had a little mental stress, a little tired, because English is not my first language. I don’t know where I’m supposed to go and those types of things. The body conditioning-wise is good. But just the language. Not stressed, more like drained.”
Catching prospect Dock Doyle caught Igarashi and said:
“He was a little more rapid fire (than major-league pitchers). He was getting the ball and throwing the ball. I’ve never caught a Japanese pitcher before, so it was a little bit different. He worked both sides of the plate with his fastball—all four seamers. It’s early on, so that’s why he probably wasn’t throwing any breaking balls, but his changeup seemed to be his go-to pitch because it was rather good.”
Omar Minaya added:
“It’s the first time I’ve seen them firsthand. I’ve seen them on film. Takahashi, the command of his fastball looked pretty good. And what we saw from Igarashi was a pitcher who, as a relief pitcher, it’s early, but he showed arm strength, which is what you want to see this early in the year.”
I’m skeptical about Takahashi getting the five starter spot because we haven’t seen much of him, and we don’t know how he will adjust to American play and players.
Speaking of the number five spot of the rotation. Jon Niese threw his fifth bullpen session this month Monday, and hopes the hamstring issue he endured in August doesn’t prompt the organization to be too conservative with him and cost him a chance at the No. 5 starter’s job.
“I feel like I’m on track,” Niese said. “My bullpens have been real strong lately. I’m just going to go in and act like I’m ready. I’m not real worried about it. I feel strong. I feel like I’ve felt every year going into spring training. I’m going to try to make the club. I’ve been trying to cut loose as much as I can. I’m probably 90-95% right now—everything, body, arm.”
As for John Maine, he suggested two years of shoulder woes are behind him, too, and he’s ready to perform like it’s 2007, when he won 15 games with an ERA of 3.91.
“I can tell,” Maine said about his health returning. “Last year I just didn’t heal properly from the surgery. Now it’s in the past. I feel fine. I feel normal. I feel good.”
As for performing like his 15-win season, Maine added:
“That’s always the goal. I’ve got to get back to pitching like I did. That was before all this stuff happened. I was every five days and just going out competing. That’s the No. 1 goal—going out there every five days. I think if I do that, everything will work itself out.”
Pitchers and catchers may not officially report until Thursday, but the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie was buzzing with activity Monday. Check out the montage of sights and sounds in the video (in the link) provided by The Daily News.