I’m not going to include updates on ANY Wilpon/Madoff stuff in these Spring Updates going forward. !00% Baseball.
The word is that Oliver Perez has unveiled a new changeup that he has been working on all winter long. Not only was minor league catcher Mike Nickeas very impressed, but so was Terry Collins. For Perez it was his second consecutive bullpen session that had players and and manager buzzing. In addition to what looked like a great change, he threw a cutter, but most importantly he was consistently in and around the strike zone.
Today all the position players are required to report and on Sunday the Mets will hold their first official workout. Collins is expecting to have meetings with two players specifically today; Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran.
In Beltran’s case, Collins will let him know that he has a limited amount of time to prove he can play centerfield. After a week to ten days, if Beltran doesn’t convinced Collins that he can handle the everyday rigors of center, or is not capable defensively, Beltran will immediately start working out at rightfield. He sounds like he means it too. Don’t count Beltran out though. Reports say that he is looking great, feels 100%, and that the clunky knee brace he has played with for the last two seasons, is now gone and a thing of the past.
In Castillo’s case, Collins expressed disappointment that Castillo did not report early in light of the fact he has so much to prove and because the possibility he could get cut is at stake. Castillo is NOT late, and it’s RARE for a former player to complain openly about any player not reporting early. Clearly, Castillo may already be in Collin’s doghouse. The new manager has embraced a take no prisoners approach to how he will run camp this spring.
Sticking with this whole Collins theme this morning, remember that vicious take-out slide of Ruben Tejada by the Phillies’ Chase Utley last season? According to Andy McCullough of the Daily News, Collins said he would have never taken it lying down and not retaliate as the Mets did. “In Philly there would have been a fight,” he said Friday, “no doubt about it. There’s still an unwritten code about protecting your teammates.” That’s pretty cool… I’m really looking forward to finally seeing some backbone on this team.
The players are shocked at the energy and passion of Terry Collins and find him unlike either of his two predecessors. Francisco Rodriguez in particular was very impressed and spoke about it. “He’s a gamer. You can tell just being around him, and it’s going to be an interesting year for us”. He also told Mike Puma of the NY Post that they discussed how he would be used this season. “I told Collins, whenever you get me up, it doesn’t matter if you get me up in the eighth inning, as long as you get me up, get me in the game.” Collins replied, ‘Don’t worry, that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Quote of the Day: Collins on Castillo
“I was hoping he would be here, just so I can get the conversation over…I’m a real believer in sending a message to the organization as a player. I thought Johan Santana did that yesterday. I thought he sent a message to everybody on that team that I’m behind you.”
That’s all folks. Enjoy your weekend everybody!
Photo credit: Daily News