I found it so laughable and typical that after almost an entire spring training without a peep from Jerry Manuel regarding Nelson Figueroa, Manuel chose yesterdays implosion on the mound from Figgy to reveal his intentions about the 35-year old right-hander.
After a near perfect run this spring, you would think that Figueroa might have jeopardized his chances to secure a roster spot after allowing seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Marlins on Friday. Figgy called it “unfortunate timing” and said the performance should be “rolled up and thrown in the garbage.” In his defense, Figueroa was implementing a new delivery as prescribed by pitching coach Dan Warthen. The change was designed to afford his sinker more movement and make his changeup more effective. Nice try, maybe next time Danny boy…
Warthen later said that no other pitcher left in camp is better suited to handle the “staff-saver” role. Staff saver? Apparently the term “staff-saver” is just another way of saying ”mop-up man.”
Jerry Manuel went one step further referring to Figueroa as a “strike-thrower,” which is a big deal on a staff that ranked 29th in most walks allowed last season.
Regarding the “staff saver” role, Manuel said, “Not everyone can handle the role. You need a guy with a resilient arm and a willingness to do what the team needs. He’s the right man for the job”
Figueroa was quick to add, ”I feel that I can handle two roles with one arm. I’m planning on making the team. My suit is pressed, and I’m ready to go… I’m ready to fill any role with this team.”
This may be a little premature with nine games left to play in my opinion. I’m not saying to completely discount Figueroa, and as a matter fact I’ve supported Figgy many times this offseason. But with the emergence of Japanese import Hisanori Takahashi, I’d rather wait before locking Figgy in.
Hisanori Takahashi will get his first start of spring today. He has been without question the Mets’ best pitcher this spring with 8 1/3 innings of shutout ball, striking out 10 and not walking a single batter.
You want a strike thrower? That is exactly what Hisanori is about and is regarded as one of the best strike throwers in the league back in Japan.
It’s okay to go through spring training and identify those players who might be in the lead in a certain spring battle, but I dislike it when winners are declared only two-thirds through the competition.
Lets keep an eye on Hisanori’s start this afternoon against the Washington Nationals. The game will be televised on WPIX at 1:00 PM.