Their pitching lines were different, but both Orlando Hernandez and Mike Pelfrey had good outings yesterday. Please read what I had to say about them in today’s Journal News.
By JOHN DELCOS
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: March 9, 2007)
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Well, it’s only spring training.
That’s the only way the Mets could look at yesterday afternoon’s mauling of Orlando Hernandez in his first appearance of the spring.
Hernandez had been shut down since Feb. 22 with arthritis in his neck.
A cortisone shot took away the pain in the neck; he needs more work to take away the pain in a spring ERA on the north side of 20.00. Then again, he’s worked only two innings.
Hernandez said he’s fine physically after giving up five runs in two innings in yesterday’s 8-7 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
“I feel good, very good,” Hernandez said, answering the question of the day.
“I threw all my pitches. I didn’t feel any pain in the neck.”
That’s all that mattered to Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson.
“He’s getting ready for the season,” Peterson said. “You don’t evaluate him on what the scoreboard says, you evaluate him on how he feels.”
Hernandez breezed through the first inning on 10 pitches, but threw 33 in a five-run second.
“My fastball was up, and I got hit,” said Hernandez, which qualifies as the stock answer any time a pitcher gets rocked.
Hernandez also didn’t help himself by consistently falling behind in the count. Of the 13 hitters he faced, he threw eight first-pitch balls.
On another he gave up a first-pitch homer to Orioles catcher Adam Donachie.
The pitch to Donachie was the first after Hernandez took a hard grounder off his left foot off the bat of Brandon Fahey that went for an RBI single.
When asked which foot got hit, Hernandez first said, “I don’t know,” then, “I think the right or the left.”
After considerable laughter, he said it was his left.
That he took this lightly would lead one to believe he’s not concerned about his neck.
Hernandez will make his next start and go three innings, maintaining the same format as the other starters.
“The more he pitches, the better he feels,” manager Willie Randolph said. “He’s working on his stuff to get ready for the season. I’m not looking for anything special now … just that he gets his work in.”
Hernandez said he was “happy” with his overall performance, a word that would be an understatement regarding how the Mets feel about rookie Mike Pelfrey, one of seven candidates for the fifth-starter spot.
Pelfrey gave up two unearned runs, but the most important development for him was that eight of the nine outs he recorded were on ground balls.
To reach the next level, Pelfrey said he must improve on his secondary pitches, and that keeping the ball on the ground indicates his slider was working.
“His slider and changeup were good,” Peterson said. “He was the whole package today.”
Assuming he’s healthy, Hernandez is slotted behind Tom Glavine in the rotation. Then come John Maine and Oliver Perez, but the Mets aren’t saying who has the inside track as the fifth starter.
Speculation is that veteran Chan Ho Park is the leading candidate because Aaron Sele hasn’t pitched well, Jason Vargas hasn’t stood out, and Jorge Sosa might be better suited for the bullpen. It’s also clear that Phil Humber needs more work, and the feeling is the team doesn’t want to rush Pelfrey.
But there’s no escaping one thing.
“Pelfrey is getting better and better,” Randolph said.