Some athletes will use anything as a motivator while others simply know what it takes to get ready.
Today, pitching coach Dan Warthen tried to sell the idea Johan Santana used perceived criticism of his physical condition as the spark to get him on the mound for the first time since Feb. 19. Santana threw the day after GM Sandy Alderson said he didn’t think the soon-to-be 34-year old lefty would pitch for another ten days to put his Opening Day start in jeopardy.
The Mets are trying to mix the contrasting positions Santana as the ultimate competitor who knows better than anybody what it takes to get ready and the other that he uses criticism as motivation.
Well, which is it?
Reportedly, Santana was irritated at reporters’ questioning, to which my first thought is for him to get over it as he’ll get $31 million this year regardless of how much he pitches, so answer the damn questions.
There’s no doubting Santana’s heart, but he can be sensitive.
What I especially found questionable is if the Mets thought he was ten days away from throwing, then why would they let him throw today? Who’s running the show anyway?
When a team puts it in the hands of the athlete to make medical decision, there is a likely chance of failure. Just think of Ryan Church, Mike Pelfrey, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes and others.
Despite Santana’s sensitivity to criticism, the fact remains he’s not in pitching shape and is behind schedule. It is also fact it was Santana who chose how to handle the offseason after rehabbing the previous two winters. Santana felt he needed the rest so he rested. Alderson stated what happened and didn’t rip Santana; there was no criticism, just an analysis.
It is a long season – Santana’s last as a Met – and it doesn’t matter if he is ready April 1 or April 15 or whenever. Santana won’t be traded for a variety of reasons and his value to the Mets this year will be to get the most out of him. It makes no sense to rush him, so don’t be surprised if letting him throw today could come back to bite the Mets.
GEE SPARKLES: Dillon Gee, who underwent surgery in the offseason to repair an artery in his shoulder, threw three scoreless innings in today’s 6-4 loss to Miami. It marked the first time Gee faced major leaguers since last July.
Gee gave up three hits and a walk with one strikeout over 50 pitches. Gee expressed no concern about his shoulder, saying he can’t afford to pitch with apprehension.
“Obviously I’m just excited to get out and compete again,’’ Gee told reporters. “The location was just very hit or miss. I wasn’t locating the fastball very well.’’
BUSTER BUSTING THEM: Buster Olney OF ESPN tweeted the following on Sunday. Mets: Amazing. Their two highest paid pitchers might not be available Opening Day, and their two highest-paid outfielders are Bobby Bonilla and Jason Bay.
COWGILL IMPRESSING: The more I see of right-handed hitting Collin Cowgill, the more I like him. If he can do the things he’s doing here in PSL and can carry that into the regular season, the Mets will be just fine at the leadoff spot when they’re opposing a lefthanded starter. I’ll try to catch up with him on Tuesday and find out what it is that makes this kid tick. He plays each inning like it’s game seven of the World Series.