Posted on: March 13, 2009 12:59 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2009 3:57 pm

Cardinals-Orioles, March 13

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Albert Pujols is in the lineup today. He has a future in this game. Adam Eaton is making his Orioles debut. They need him to eat innings to save their precious young arms. He fits the bill, but won't have much Fantasy value.

-- Skip Schumaker is playing second base and leading off. Khalil Greene is playing shortstop. David Freese is on loan from minor league camp as the DH. He had already been sent out and ruled out of the mix to start at third. Colby Rasmus is hitting ninth and playing center. Catcher prospect Bryan D. Anderson is in the lineup, too.

-- Schumaker singled to center. Joe Thurston singled to right. Pujols RBI double. Frozen rope to left. Pujols never ceases to amaze.

-- Orioles have all but Nick Markakis, Melvin Mora and Cesar Izturis in their lineup. Matt Wieters is catching and Gregg Zaun is DHing. Wieters is hitting .409 but still hasn't done enough to win a job yet. I am still hopeful he can. Wieters threw a ball into center on a John Jay steal attempt. There was no advance, but Wieters missed by a wide margin.

-- Adam Jones, who told us early this spring he has designs on 30-40 steals (Why not? he says), stole second in the first inning. It wasn't close. He is 6-for-6 in steal attempts and now leads all of baseball in spring training. Beat writer says, "Spring training, pal." I responded: "Hey, you have to show it now to do it then. You practice how you play." I am upgrading Jones' projected steals from 12 to 20. I won't be surprised to see myself to upgrade it to 25 sooner than later.

-- SS Greene came up against left-hander Jamie Walker in the fourth with a runner on. Emack says to beat writer: "I am going to predict a homer to left here." Crack! Emack: "I am a Xod-XXmned genius, Gump." Beat writer: "Good call."

Greene has serious power potential for a shortstop and I wouldn't mind him being my Fantasy shortstop in any league this season. Wait on the position and take Greene. La Russa has a way of getting the best out of his guys. Ryan Ludwick, anyone? Greene is his next project. So far, so brilliant.

-- Chris Perez pitched the ninth, but he certainly didn't impress in his bid to close. He served up a walk, RBI double and RBI single, nearly blowing a three-run lead. He clearly has work to do. Those O's bats of Adam Donachie, Justin Turner and Lou Montanez were not really much of a challenge.

-- I am picking up John Mayberry in the NL-only analysts league tonight. He has proving to be a diamond in the rough. That is a great ballpark for him to get his feet wet as a reserve. The son of the former Royal, Mayberry can earn at-bats and with someone like Werth starting there -- and never having been a full-season regular before -- Mayberry could get more at-bats than you might think. Hopefully no one in my league reads this message. If they do and pick him up, I will laugh uncontrollably at them for not being independent thinkers. I never read their stories. :-) Seriously, I would take it as a compliment if they scoop him up on me.



Posted on: February 26, 2009 1:14 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2009 5:15 pm

Orioles-Cardinals, Feb. 26

FORT LAUDERDALE -- The Cardinals make their first stop here and the Orioles play more of their regulars in Game 2:

-- Danys Baez is back from Tommy John surgery. You have to figure a rotation spot is his if he proves healthy. So far so good. Baez is nothing more than a deeper AL-only option because the Orioles are a non-contender in the AL Beast.

-- Baez struggled through one inning, walking three and allowing a two-run double to Yadier Molina.

-- Joe Mather of the Cardinals was playing third. That is interesting with the crowd in the outfield and the loss of Troy Glaus for the start of the season. David Freese is supposed to start opening day, but if Mather can prove capable defensively, he is a nice sleeper in deeper formats. Outfield and third base eligibility will help his case.

-- Mather made a show-stopping grab and throw to rob Nick Markakis of a double. Later, he did drop a relay from right that would have nailed the runner at third.

-- Colby Rasmus must have the same stylist as Chase Utley. He rocks the slicked-back doo. He has swagger. Swing. And speed. He just stole second without a throw. He is a big-time sleeper in deeper formats, especially if he makes the team as a starter in that crowded outfield.

-- Kyle Lohse cruised through one inning, but he was beat up on two-run homers by Triple-A leadoff man Justin Christian and mashing prospect Nolan Reimold. Felix Pie and Ryan Freel might share at-bats in left field to start the season, but Reimold will be a starter before the end of the season.

There is legit power in Reimold's bat. He could be a 25-30 homer guy annually. He will be an impact player in deeper formats come September, perhaps even August.

-- A two-run bloop single for Reimold. He is wearing No. 60... that is the number Markakis wore when he surprised everyone and made the team out of spring training a few years ago. Reimold would be my opening day left fielder over Pie or Freel. We haven't seen Pie yet because he showed late with a visa problem.

-- Markakis slashed a double to right and legged it out. The Orioles want him to run more on the bases. Markakis is a little tentative, but he has the speed to be a 20-steal guy to go with his 25-30 homers.

-- Chris Perez came on for the Cardinals. I wanted to annoint him the closer, but he didn't really impress. Luis Montanez gapped a double off him and Aubrey Huff hit a ball that would have been a homer to right-center if the wind wasn't blowing in. He looks like a closer with that Mitch Williams-like hair.

-- Another Tommy John returnee debuts for the O's, former closer -- future closer -- Chris Ray. He didn't have an easy task against Rasmus, Ryan Ludwick and Chris Duncan, there decent bats in the middle innings of an early spring game. Ray retired Rasmus and Ludwick on lazy pops, Duncan (a lefty) struck out swinging. I am going to see what he has to say today. I might also try to catch Rasmus and Ludwick.

"It felt good to get out there in a big league game, especially when you get three outs like that, it's a good feeling," Ray said. "It's a good feeling to get anybody out at this point."

Ray said his elbow feels great and he doesn't need even need ice at this point.

"I just love the bullpen," Ray said of not returning as the O's closer. "Whevere he has me throwing, whether it's the ninth or the seventh."

What about being a closer later this season.

"Hopefully everybody in the bullpen has got a zero, we're winning games and everything stays the same," he said.

We don't buy it. Once a closer, always a closer, mentally. He wants to get back to that role.

"I want guys to make it tough for me," manager Dave Trembley said. "(Ray) left with a smile on his face. That's really important. You got to tip your cap to the guy. He has worked very hard to get to this point. We're glad to have him back."

-- Matt Albers, coming off shoulder surgery, made it through his spring debut smoothly, too. "It still takes me a little longer than I'd like to get ready," he said. "Now in the starting rotation I have a lot more time to get loose and really ready. Once I get loose now, everything feels real good. I'm thrown into the rotation (mix), which would be nice and probably help my shoulder out. Obviously, I have to prove my way into the rotation."

-- Cardinals pitching prospect Jess Todd was rapped around a little. I am going to assume already, he is no candidate to make the team. The prospect has potential, but that potential will have to be proven in Triple-A first.

-- 2008 No. 1 pick Brett Wallace came into the game later as the DH. He looks like a slightly smaller version of Prince Fielder. He is a portly fellow. Good thing the MLB draft doesn't have a combine, because he can hit but he might not have graded that highly in athleticism.

-- Jon Jay looked a lot more athletic and prospect-like. It is too crowded in the St. Louis outfield right now, but he could have a chance to help as a reserve down the road.

-- On Christian: "He came to me and told me he was my sleeper," Trembley said.


Posted on: March 6, 2008 2:36 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2008 2:41 pm

Elbow grease: Update on Pujols

Albert Pujols is falling in drafts because of an elbow everyone is afraid will cause him to shut it down early this year. Let me first say, a first baseman makes few throws, so a bad throwing elbow is not as big of an issue. Also, Pujols has played with this for years, so obviously it doesn't completely keep him from being effective.

Our player update from this MLB.com story: 
Cardinals team physician Dr. George Paletta had an interview with MLB.com on the status of Pujols' elbow. According to the website: Pujols has a "high grade" tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, as well as bone spurs, inflammation and arthritis in the joint -- all of which have likely developed as a reaction to the ligament tear. "I think now our options are really likely down to two," Paletta said. "If his elbow condition can't be successfully managed (playing through it with treatment) and gives him significant problems again, then I think the horse is out of the barn and he should probably consider having the whole thing done (Tommy John surgery)."

That means: 1. Play through it and treat it before ... 2. It blows out and requires reconstructive surgery that will take a position player eight months of rehab.

"This is not a curable problem without a reconstruction. What we hope is that it's a manageable problem," Paletta told the website. "We've been managing this problem since 2003, when he first tore it. So we've been managing it fairly successfully for five seasons now. But there comes a time when it's not manageable anymore. And if it's not manageable anymore, the best answer for Albert probably, long-term, is to consider having the reconstruction done."

My analysis:

So, Pujols will play as long as he can tolerate pain, perform and the Cardinals are in the race. If, come July, the pieces fall the right way (wrong way, really), Pujols will shut it down. July 31 is the cutoff date (after 105 games) for a player to have Tommy John surgery and be ready for the 2009 season.

Luis Gonzalez was one that had the surgery after July and made it back for spring training and he was an outfielder, which makes far more throws than a first baseman.

Pujols will be a risky first-round pick, but there is no reason yet to not take that chance after the top five players are off the board.

Now, will I still pick him third overall? After reading this story, it is harder to do so. But, from what I saw last Friday, Pujols can still be a beast for 105 games.

Stay tuned. I should see him a few more times this spring live.


Posted on: March 4, 2008 4:14 pm

Rasmus, Barton and Jones, oh my!

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Cardinals are in town facing the Orioles on Tuesday. Adam Loewen vs. Anthony Reyes, a prospect-hound's dream matchup -- with regard to these two system-poor franchises at least. Here are my thoughts as we go:

-- Colby Rasmus is in center and leading off ... Rule-5 pick Brian Barton is in right and unheralded Joe Mather in left. Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan didn't make the trip. Rasmus looked bad, fanning on a pitch out of the zone. (Rasmus showed a strong arm on a throw to the plate, by the way). Mather is a big dude with power, but way too aggressive. After a wild cut, I noticed he has struck out five times in his first eight spring at-bats. Ouch. Then of course, he nearly takes Loewen's head off on a liner through the box.

-- Rasmus launched a long fly in the game. He has a real sweet swing... at least he did on that one. He posterized it, too. A 30-30 prospect with swagger.

-- O's sophomore Adam Jones beat out an infield hit, smacked a single to left and slapped a single to right. He is 5-for-10 with a homer this spring. He didn't attempt a steal, but the O's got him to second on a hit-and-run groundout once and to third on a hit-and-run single another time. Jones is 0-for-1 in his steal attempts thus far. We're guessing 15 steals will be a high number for him at this point, but he is a threat on the bases. The O's beat writers for the <em>Baltimore Sun</em> and MLB.com were saying Jones has so much athleticism, it doesn't look like he is trying. "It's just spring training," one said. He has the center field job uncontested at this point and should be an overlooked sophomore on Draft Day. FYI, the beat writer's opinion of him is he is a well-versed young ballplayer and should be ready to really pop by the second half of this year. Take note of that.

-- Barton, who has to make the team or be offered back to the Indians for $25,000, has a lot of tools. He is quick, has a great arm and has shown versatility. Most important, he hits from the right side in a Cardinals outfield that could figure three left-handed bats of Duncan, Rasmus and Ankiel. Barton ripped a liner to left center for a single.

-- Would like to see him run here... off a left-handed pitcher and a strong throwing catcher in Ramon Hernandez. Nope, Cesar Izturis lined out to center -- while Adam Jones ran it down, he also threw past Kevin Millar at first, trying to double Barton off but instead allowing him to go to third.

-- He later bunted for a base hit but was caught stealing on a pickoff by Jamie Walker and reached on an infield hit. He can fly. He came into the game 0-for-8 this spring and had a nice day. Those tools and his right-handedness bode well for Barton making the team. He can be a sleeper reserve outfielder in NL-only leagues.

-- Loewen is an imposing figure on the mound. He looks like a future ace to the eyes. Sturdy. But he battled control issues in his first start and wasn't sharp in this one either.

-- Juan Gonzalez, the DH today, hit Loewen's first offering 400 feet foul to left. First pitch fastball is what he hit for a three-run homer off Santana on Friday. A sharp single to left in the first and a double to left in the fifth. Juan Gone is now 5-for-12 with a homer, double and four RBI this spring. I wouldn't draft him outside of deep NL-only leagues at this point, but his start makes for an interesting story. He obviously can still hit the fastball -- which is what most pitchers are throwing this time of spring. Wait until the offspeed stuff and breaking balls come out later in March, before you buy into what Gonzo is doing.

-- Reyes is up on the hill with his trademark goofy striped socks and flat-billed cap. It is almost like he tries to look like someone who wears a pocket protector. The pop of Yadier Molina's mitt suggests something else, though. He has a thick lower half and looks are a power arm.

-- Brian Roberts is leading off for the O's, who have reportedly amped up talks with the Cubs in recent days. Roberts tried to drag bunt, unsuccessfully. He stole his baseball-leading fifth base. He got a running start off a Triple-A arm. He should have been picked off. Yadier Molina, a great-armed backstop, had no chance.

-- Melvin Mora laced a double to a gap. Another first-pitch fastball hitter. He won't ever be a 20-plus homer Fantasy 3B again, but you could do worse in deeper leagues at the position, we suppose -- especially since he will be hitting in front of Nick Markakis. The 'Cake took today off, but is off to a great start this spring.

-- Jay Gibbons, who is suspended for the first 15 days of spring training, smacked a liner to right off Reyes to score Mora. Gibbons will be really cheap in deeper AL-only leagues. He is as healthy as he has been in years and will get the HGH stuff behind him now. Might be a real deep sleeper. He was always a champ in batting practice and was one of the more impressive O's earlier this spring.

-- Aubrey Huff has yet to play, dealing with a sports hernia and taking live BP, but he might be able to play later this week.

-- Reyes is getting tagged. O's bats --Gibbons, Kevin Millar and Luke Scott, are all over him. Perhaps another case of working with the fastball against good fastball hitters. His command is clearly not in regular-season form. He really has yet to ever to have it in "regular-season form," though. We will like him a lot more after this year, but there has to be a point where the light flicks on. Just don't see it yet. He has a lot to work with, but also a lot to work on. Both Reyes and Loewen went two shaky innings. Loewen is the slightly more impressive late-round flier at this point.

-- Brendan Ryan wears the same goofy socks as Reyes. He also wears an elbow ace bandage on his right (throwing) elbow. It must be noted Albert Pujols doesn't wear a brace on his balky elbow. Pujols didn't make this trip, but I noticed no elbow bandage in Port St. Lucie last Friday.

-- I said to myself Mora is going to square one up on Reyes. I should have said it outloud, because no one will believe me now. Mora popped a two-run homer off him. Reyes is a mess, but he still should open the year in the Cardinals rotation.

-- Three Orioles relievers are coming off major surgery and are out for most, if not all, of the season -- Danys Baez, Chris Ray and Fernando Cabrera. Baez is training at his Miami home, while Ray left Fort Lauderdale on Sunday to train with the O's minor leagues in Sarasota. Cabrera, who underwent surgery for a right elbow debridement, will join Ray in Sarasota soon.

-- The Cardinals reassigned 10 players to minor league camp Monday: RHP Mitchell Boggs, RHP Dewon Brazelton, LHP Jaime Garcia, RHP Adam Ottavino, RHP P.J. Walters, RHP Tyler Herron, RHP Stuart Pomeranz, C David Carpenter, C Nick Derba and C Brandon Yarbrough. They now have 57 players in camp, which doesn't include Juan Encarnacion (eye), who is out for the season and perhaps for his career after being hit by a pitch last year.

-- James Hoey was the first impressive pitcher of the day. He could be a sleeper to close before this year is out. Heck, with the shaky spring beginnings of Walker (five ER in 2 2/3) and George Sherrill (one ER in one inning), it could be sooner rather than later.

-- With the release of troubled Scott Spiezio, Josh Phelps as a very good shot at making the team as Pujols' backup. Phelps also adds a potential power bat to the corner outfield on days Ankiel and/or Duncan need to sit against a tough lefty. Phelps is a big guy with pop in his bat, so he could have some measure of value and versatility in the deepest of NL-only leagues.

-- A Hayden Penn sighting! Penn has had injuries derail him so far in his young career, but he is a talented right-hander who could surprise us finally this season. Heck, with Troy Patton potentially out for the season, Penn could be a sleeper to make the rotation. He will have to stop pitching fourth-deep in spring training, of course. Loewen, Hoey and Walker each worked before him. Obviously, the O's are taking it slow with him, allowing him to work against the non-regulars later in the game. Hoey and Walker needed to face some big leaguers. Penn gave up the Rasmus homer and sharp Juan Gone double.

-- Outfielder Brian Barton and third baseman Brian Barden in the same game for the Cardinals, which can be confusing for some. Names sound similar if not darn-near identical.


Posted on: February 29, 2008 1:30 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2008 1:28 pm

Oh no, Johan!

PORT ST. LUCIE -- Well, our pregame blog might have proved prophetic. And Johan Santana looked pathetic.

Keeping the ball in the park might be problematic for the $150 million ace.

Juan Gonzalez has been out of baseball for years, but it didn't stop him from hitting a three-run homer in the first inning. Santana's first pitch was a strike. His first batter was retired on a lazy fly to left.

It was all downhill from there.

Chris Duncan, batting in the comfy spot in front of Albert Pujols, blooped a single to left -- a jam shot. Pujols smashed a ground double down the third-base line. Then Juan Gone, who was underwhelming in batting practice, hit the first pitch out to left for a three-run homer. In the press box a Cards beat writer says Gonzalez is 6-for-7 with two homers off Santana in his career. Interesting. I have to look that up to confirm it.

Santana settled down and struck out Ryan Ludwick to end his disasterous first inning.

The second inning was easier, three easy fly outs, but he did give up a gapped triple to left center by light-hitting infielder Brendan Ryan.

Santana threw strikes, but a few balls were hit quite hard. He is out of the game after two innings and 30 pitches. Can't wait to hear what he has to say.

-- Jose Reyes looks spry as ever, beating out an infield hit, going first to third on a ground single to center and scoring on a slap to right. He looked a bit more ripped in the clubhouse. We once said Hanley Ramirez was a Reyes-clone when he was a rookie, albeit a tad bit stronger and a step slower. Reyes' speed is still there -- he has a sprinter's body -- but the stronger upper body made him appear even more Hanley-like.

-- This is a great spring game. Three of the top picks in Fantasy. Pujols, Reyes and Santana.

(Actually -- thanks to the blog commenter that reminded me about David Wright -- FOUR of the top picks in Fantasy. How could I leave him out of the conversation for the top pick?)

It might help an early first-rounder sway their pick. I pick third in a Head-to-Head money league with my friend that figures to see Santana and Alex Rodriguez go 1-2. I might also trade up to No. 1, if I feel I need Santana. I was scared to pick Pujols because of the elbow, but strikeouts are minus-1 and I could make a big mistake if I am wrong on Pujols. I might not be able to pass on him.

Pujols doesn't strike out much, especially for a slugger. That is a huge difference between him and the likes of Ryan Howard and even Prince Fielder. (Pujols, who looked great in BP (see BP blog below), hit a homer in the game off Duaner Sanchez. Pujols indeed looks ready to make up for arguably the worst season of his career -- at age 27, no less.

-- Before the homer, Aaron Heilman got Pujols out in front on a nice changeup. That's the changeup that gets ripped for homers when Heilman doesn't set it up right. When he does? He gets Pujols out in front... and then he did it again and got him to pop up.

Heilman looks good. As a setup man for a top contender, he should post a lot of relief victories again. He is one of the best setup men in Fantasy Baseball for that reason alone. He also happens to be a real good pitcher, a former first-round pick out of Notre Dame. Heilman retired Duncan, Pujols and Glaus on eight pitches. The first two torched Johan.

-- Adam Wainwright is on the other side. He is working into the third inning after a six-pitch second. Wainwright is a favorite of mine and could be a great pick after the top 25 aces of Fantasy. I see a future Cy Young winner, a young Chris Carpenter. I said that last spring. Talking to him, he seemed way too cocky, but I guess that is a trait the good ones have.

-- Carlos Delgado lined a single to past second. He struck out looking in his first at-bat. The wrist bothered him last year, inability to turn on inside heat. That single looked sharp.

-- Santana might be available now. See you in a bit.

-- A few of the things jotted from the Santana news conference:

"We figured out they were swinging right away. They were very aggressive, so in the second inning we started throwing changeups and sliders. For my first spring game, I feel pretty good."

"I had planned to throw 45 pitches and just two innings. I threw 30 in the game (22 strikes) and finished up with 15 in the bullpen."

"I focused on my release point. The difficulty with the changeup is to get it to look like a fastball."

"(Juan Gonzalez) has always been a very good hitter. I have followed him through his career.  Today he was very aggressive and swung at the first pitch." 6-for-7 with two homers.

About the fans and teammates amping him up in spring training ... "I gotta get used to it. It is gonna be like that all year. But I have to control my emotions and take it easy right now."

"It's always good to get the first one out of the way. I know how important it is important for you guys and the city. This is just the beginning."

"I would rather leave it here in spring training, so when we get to New York, we're ready to go. Even though the numbers will say something different, I am very happy with the way I feel right now. We'll see where we are at the end."

-- The Mets clubhouse has been open for a bit now. Gotta go down and ask the questions that have already been asked four times.... see you in a bit.

-- Catcher Ramon Castro, who might have been Santana's catcher to aid communication, shed a little bit of light on the difference between the first-inning Santana and the second-inning Santana.

"He left a couple of mistakes up."

"He called to me, 'Let's go change things up.' He started throwing first-pitch changeups and sliders. It is spring training, but he wants to do good, too."

The pitch Gonzalez hit was a "Sinker." A sinking fastball. "But it didn't sink. It stayed straight."

The Mets closed the clubhouse until after the game, right after I got there. Figures. In-game blogging really hamstrings a reporter. The stars are likely gone. But at least Willie Randolph will have some comments to make.

This it it for my game blog. Sorry I didn't get more on the other Fantasy guys. But, after today, I am leaning more toward Pujols than Santana, Reyes or Wright in that Head-to-Head league I mentioned above. In Rotisserie, my pick is clearly Reyes.

As far as why I left Wright out originally (I have to try to explain the inexplicable): I have a general unsubstantiated gut feeling Wright is a very, very good first-rounder -- just not an elite one. I don't see 40 homers and 125 RBI from him like I can see with A-Rod and Miguel Cabrera at his position. The 30-plus steals help close the gap in Rotisserie, but if I am looking for a speed guy, it would be Reyes over Wright anyway.


Posted on: February 29, 2008 12:54 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2008 1:18 pm

Pedro: 'Johan's going to put up a show'

PORT ST. LUCIE -- Johan Santana might be the new kid on the block, but Pedro Martinez remains the elder statesman -- one that will always be a silly kid.

"Johan is going to put up a show out there; don't miss that!" Martinez hamming it up and telling anyone who would listen in the Mets clubhouse as the media was ushered out before Santana's Met debut. "You don't get a second chance to see the first chance."

Martinez just finished his first live batting practice session of the spring and was changing in his locker when he wondered why no one wanted to know how he did. He answered his own question, apparently needing to talk to someone, so he just had a conversation with himself.

"I know, Johan's pitching in 45 minutes," Martinez said. "I no important anymore. ... Old age. You know you can forget."

The locker arrangement in the Mets clubhouse suggests something else about who the big man is. Pedro has two lockers side-by-side, next to the single locker of Johan Santana. Oliver Perez and Orlando Hernandez are to the left and John Maine is on the end (No. 5 starter candidate Mike Pelfrey is across the walkway after the top bullpen arms).

The fact Pedro has two lockers to Santana's one is a bit surprising. We guess $55 million three winters ago is worth more than $150 million today in the locker heirarchy. Inflation.

As Santana was in the workout room swinging a barbell, Martinez stripped off his practice gear in that second locker to get ready for what he calls "the real work" -- his afterthrowing workout.

"I'll be watching," he said, hurrying to get his workout done before Santana takes the mound. "I haven't been on the mound much (the past year-plus). He can teach me a few things."

Martinez is scheduled to throw another live batting practice Monday before he makes his spring debut Thursday night 30 miles up I-95 at Viera against the Nationals.

"I will only pitch night games," Pedro said, half kidding.

His live BP session was watched by owner Fred Wilpon, Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson. Martinez said he felt good, but he didn't push it.

"It's Friday, difficult to grip breaking balls," he joked.

Apparently, Pedro's pitches work differently on weekends. Make note of that in Fantasy leagues (kidding, of course.

Before departing for his cardio he was telling stories about the kids half his age that train with him in the Dominican.

"Are you gonna kill us today," they asked Senior Pedro, their most famous but not quite Santana-rich workout partner. "They compain of two hours of work and haven't made it yet. After all these years, I am still doing it -- working three times harder than they are."

Pedro, with a noticeable scar on the front of his left shoulder but not his right, is very aware of his age, joking about it with anyone who will listen. In fact, the free spirit seemingly has to always joke with anyone. If no one is around, he jokes with himself.

But he does make sure people know who is in charge. A drink spills in his first locker and he calls for a clubhouse attendant to clean it up. It didn't take long for a kid to arrive, who was probably not much older than his workout partners in the Dominican.

"That's what happen. That's what happens when you get old," Martinez said of the locker accident.

Speaking of old, Andres Galarraga was visiting in the Mets clubhouse -- a lot thicker and more gray than a fews years. He finished with the Mets.

The game is starting. Strike one for Santana. Game blog is coming next.


Posted on: February 29, 2008 11:32 am
Edited on: February 29, 2008 12:56 pm

Say Yo Johan...

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLA -- Sitting down at Mets camp for the Cardinals game that marks the debut of Johan Santana. Should be entertaining, especially since Albert Pujols and Troy Glaus are here taking batting practice as I type.

Worried about Pujols' elbow? Uh, does a guy with a bum elbow hit .327 and play 158 games like he did last year?

And, watching batting practice from the press box, I can still hear the ball begging for mercy as it flies away. Pujols hit everything on the nose -- most of them well out of Tradition Field, which has adopted the dimensions of Citi Field. The Mets will open that park in 2009 and it should remain pitcher friendly, much to Santana's delight.

Pujols looks completely fine in BP... No worries about that elbow. He was easily the most impressive in his batting group that included big Troy Glaus and a somewhat slimmer Juan Gonzalez. Watching Pujols hit BP, which I have done numerous times in the past springs and seasons, reminds me more and more of Mark McGwire. Easy, easy, easy power.

I will blog periodically throughout the day and file a story on Santana and how much Fantasy owners might need to be concerned about his poor second half and the fact he led the AL with 33 homers allowed. Javier Vazquez, another hard-thrower, was second with 29 allowed. Only Woody Williams (35) and Livan Hernandez (34) allowed more and they pitched in more notoriously homer-happy parks. This might surprise you, but the NL parks are smaller and more homer happy.

Santana should be pleased Shea is not, and neither will be Citi Field.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com