Mets Matters: Duda Breaks Out, Byrd Could Push Hot-Hitting Valdespin To Vegas

mets mattersIt is not surprising that GM Sandy Alderson indicated today it is “less and less likely,’’ Johan Santana would be ready for Opening Day.

Alderson attributed that to Santana not being in good shape when he reported to spring training because he didn’t go through his normal off-season routine after extensive rehabbing the previous two winters.

“From my standpoint, his arm is fine, as far as we know,’’ Alderson told reporters. “Was he ready to pitch when he came into camp? No. Even he may have been a little surprised by that.

“So that leaves us where we are today. And where we are today is getting him ready to pitch as soon as we possibly can. We haven’t rule out Opening Day, although given when we think he might get on the mound, it becomes less and less likely. We haven’t given up on that notion yet. And we’ll see where it takes us.’’

The Mets are kidding themselves in thinking Santana has a chance to make the Opening Day start because he hasn’t thrown off the mound since Feb. 19.

Jonathon Niese will start if Santana opens the season on the disabled list. In that scenario, ESPN reports the earliest Santana could start would be the sixth game of the season.

Also expected to open the season on the disabled list is closer Frank Francisco, meaning Bobby Parnellwill get that opportunity.

PITCHING UPDATE:  Shaun MarcumLaTroy Hawkins and Pedro Feliciano are expected to pitch in a “B’’ game Tuesday against the Marlins.

Marcum and Hawkins have been working in the bullpen to build up their arm strength. Feliciano, who has a heart ailment, was cleared to resume throwing, and will wear a heart monitor.

SATURDAY’S GAME: The 8-8 tie with Miami reminded me that there was a time when they played extra innings during spring training. I remember a story that Pete Rose got his break during a long extra-innings game in which he made an impression with several extra at-bats. I am sure he’s not the only one.  There’s no telling who might have had a chance to shine if the game lasted a few more innings. The game sure has changed.

Even so, two Mets in particular left the game with a good taste in their mouths.

The first was Matt Harvey, who gave up a leadoff homer to Christian Yelich, then settled in for 2.2 solid innings in a 49 pitch outing. He was coming off a solid debut last Sunday when he allowed one run in two innings against the Astros. So far, so good.

The second was Lucas Duda, who homered and hit an opposite-field double. Manager Terry Collins was more impressed with the latter because it reflected positively on alterations he made with his stance.

Going the opposite way is vital for Duda, because it shows patience and means shortening his stroke. Statistically, this should lead to reduced strikeouts and more walks, thereby adding to his on-base percentage. Duda will open the season in left field, which, at Citi Field is easier to handle than in right.

Corner infielder Zach Lutz continues to wield a hot bat and picked up two more hits in yesterday’s contest. He’s drawing a lot of attention and many believe he’s MLB ready and worthy of at least a bench spot with the Mets. The trouble is that Justin Turner stands in his way and he’s also having a nice camp for the Mets.

OUTFIELD BATTLE: Collin Cowgill (.500) and Jordany Valdespin (.429) both lead the team in hits and are battling with 36-year old Marlon Byrd and Andrew Brown for the two available utility outfield spots. Brown is is batting .134 and seems to be fading, but Collins prefers Byrd’s veteran experience and never stops talking about it. My choice would be Cowgill and Valdespin, but Byrd reminds me a lot of Julio Franco (remember him?) and he might push a more deserving youngster, in this case Valdespin, to Triple-A no matter what the spring numbers are. Baseball’s a funny game.

About John Delcos 577 Articles
I am an active member of the BBWAA and have covered Major League Baseball in several capacities for over 30 years, including 18 in New York working the Mets' and Yankees' beat. I also covered the Baltimore Orioles and the Cleveland Indians before that. Today I am a freelance writer and social director for several media outlets and a Senior Editor for Metsmerized Online.