This past Saturday, Sandy Alderson said the Mets and Johan Santana agreed that Santana should scale back his off-season workout plan. However, Alderson then said he was disappointed that Santana arrived to camp not ready to pitch.
Alderson later told reporters it could be 10 days before Santana pitches from a mound again.
However, yesterday, Santana threw off a mound, after first long-toss session from 180 feet, according to the team's beat reporters on Twitter. It was the first time Santana has thrown off a mound since February 19.
Mets C Anthony Recker caught Santana, but he was situated in front of the plate.
Santana seemed agitated and would not speak to reporters after throwing, reports suggest.
“What’s spring training for? What’s practice? To get you better," Santana said, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. "That’s what I’m doing right now. That’s what I’m here for, and that’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I’m working on.”
Alderson has since clarified his original statement to say Santana was 10 days away from pitching in games, not 10 days from pitching on a mound, according to Newsday.
“He’s pissed off,” Terry Collins told reporters. “He has every right to be.
Dan Warthen speculated that Alderson's comments helped to motivate Santana to take the mound yesterday, according to the Daily News.
“I said this morning, ‘Look, don’t let this stuff get to you," Collins said, in regards to his talk with Santana earlier in the day. "I said, ‘This is about getting you ready. And if it’s April 1, terrific. If it’s April 5, great. If it’s April 15, that’s the way it is. But it’s about you being able to run out there 30 times next summer. If that means we’re going to have to slow the pace down, then we’ll do it."
For starters, Santana takes his work VERY seriously. There is no way he slacked off this winter, and anyone who thinks this hasn't been paying attention to him the last five seasons. Furthermore, to think he'd slack in a walk-year means you haven't been paying attention to professional sports... ever. I don't know why Alderson said what he said when he said it. I don't really care how this looks, I don't care about the optics, which is something Joel Sherman of the New York Post seems to quite concerned with. Santana is right, this is Spring Training, and it's time to train and get ready. He missed half of last season, had surgery and (in concert with the team) decided to implement a different, slower-paced off season plan. That's fine by me, considering he's ended so many seasons with surgery. My big concern is that he doesn't push himself, for whatever reason, which putting him at greater risk of injury that he already is. I trust Santana's work ethic and that he knows his body. I also trust Alderson to be methodical and smart about how he handles a $31 million asset. Together, they'll figure this out, because it's in their individual best interests to do so...
I suppose this is a good sign, but this wasn't a full bullpen session; it's clear Santana still has a ways to go to get where he needs to be.
I expected a bumpy road from the beginning in this situation, so I am not surprised Santana hit a roadblock. That it was determined Santana was lacking arm strength made it pretty clear he wasn’t ready to pitch; this isn’t really a new revelation. The questions are if Santana wasn’t physically ready for camp, then why? Also, were Santana and the Mets in alignment on his status throughout the winter? Those are my concerns at this point.
Now, to be fair, there’s still a lot of time for Santana to get ready for the season, although I now don’t expect him to be ready for Opening Day. I could see him starting on the fifth or sixth day of the season, or even get pushed back to the middle of April, assuming all goes well through the rest of camp. But there’s no telling what’s going to transpire between now and then, how he’s going to respond to each of his bullpens and starts, and so on. However, I think this was a concern going into camp regardless of what kind of pitching shape Santana was in when he reported.