Mets Spring Training Game 5
He didn’t pitch in the game, but he pitched before the game without discomfort, which was big news. Earlier in the day, it was reported that Santana would be traveling to New York for an MRI due to elbow soreness and forearm tightness. After his 35-pitch bullpen session — when he reportedly was throwing “about 80%” — the trip was canceled.
There’s a blizzard here in the northeast, so not traveling to NYC makes sense. However, why in the world was Johan throwing a day before he was supposed to be getting an MRI? I hope I’m wrong, but this is like Ryan Church all over again.
Clearly, neither Maine nor the Mets did anything to correct the flaw in John’s mechanics that caused his shoulder injury. He’s still carrying the ball back behind his shoulder, breaking his hands at his right hip, and in turn opening up too early and throwing the ball to a spot up and in to a RH hitter / up and away to a LH hitter. To spot the ball in any other place requires a significant adjustment in release point and/or arm angle. In other words, his command will again be inconsistent and he’ll continue to have problems finishing off hitters. All those two-strike foul balls are going to continue not because he doesn’t have an “out” pitch, as has been repeated ad nauseam, but because he can’t put the ball where he wants to, when he needs to.
Putz broke 89 MPH only once during his one inning outing, which was underwhelming. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since it was his first appearance of the spring. However, Putz is supposed to be a major power arm, a guy who should be throwing in the mid-90s. We saw neither that power heater nor the jaw-dropping deuce. I’m not panicking, since Billy Wagner would routinely be “only” in the low 90s in the spring through most of May before getting up to his usual 96-97. But there is that slight hint of concern that Putz was struggling to break 90 MPH.
If Putz’s velocity was a minor concern, then Duaner’s 85-MPH fastball was downright shocking. Like Putz though, it was Sanchez’s first appearance of the spring, so we can give him the benefit of the doubt. At the same time, he was throwing at speeds that resembled a hitter’s ideal BP session.
Keith Hernandez said, “…you can’t teach soft hands or good hands. If you have bad hands, you’re stuck with them.”
I respectfully disagree. See Mattingly, Don. As a young buck in the early 1980s he was a bat without a position because of an iron glove that was glaring even when hidden in left field. Once he set his mind to playing first base, he became not only a Gold Glove winner but considered among the greatest fielding first basemen of all-time — ironically, his defensive skills were often compared to Keith’s.
I will give Keith this: it’s rare for a fielder to suddenly “discover” soft hands, especially once he’s reached his twenties. But the condition can be changed if the player is committed.