There was really no danger in the Mets becoming the Yankees in the matter of controversy. In retrospect, the Duaner Sanchez thing was rather tame in comparison to the circus on the other side of the state. Willie Randolph saw a budding problem and nipped it.
Here’s how I described it this morning in The Journal News.
Mets’ Randolph, Sanchez clear the air
By JOHN DELCOS
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: March 11, 2007)
VIERA, Fla. – Duaner Sanchez was embarrassed. Willie Randolph was satisfied.
But both parties agreed that the issue of the reliever’s repeated tardiness has been resolved. The manager had banished him from camp for two days last week and fined him.
Showing he understood the depth of his troubles, Sanchez arrived at the Mets’ complex at 6:45 a.m., 75 minutes before his scheduled clear-the-air meeting with Randolph and general manager Omar Minaya.
“It was very productive,’’ Randolph said of the hour exchange. “It was a chance to sit down face to face and to make sure he was clear with the program.
“We talked about everything from A to Z. He understands what I expect of him. He heard me loud and clear.’’
Sanchez’s job is to pitch under pressure. Yesterday, he responded under a different kind of pressure.
“It was very embarrassing to me. I should have been more responsible,’’ Sanchez said. “Good things happened (at the meeting). I apologized to the front office and the coaching staff, and I will apologize to my teammates one-on-one.’’
Sanchez was fined last spring for being late, but Randolph said it was not the reoccurring problem it was this spring.
“There are rules,’’ Minaya said. “This was a step that needed to be taken. He understood this can’t happen again.
“Things happen, but he has to be capable of at least calling. Unfortunately, in this case there was no call.’’
The Mets were also surprised, and likely more angered, that Sanchez reported to camp out of shape.
His physical condition further steamed the manager because he is rehabbing from shoulder surgery.
”(The meeting) was the combination of a lot of things (including) where his progress was when he came to spring training,’’ Minaya said.
Sanchez’s lack of conditioning will also be part of his apology; the right-hander is aware that some teammates don’t appreciate his work ethic. On Friday, Jose Valentin, Tom Glavine and Billy Wagner all questioned his commitment.
“The past is the past,’’ Sanchez said. “I came in out of shape. I gave (Randolph) a reason to be upset with me.’’
Sanchez was 5-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 49 appearances as Wagner’s setup man before dislocating his pitching shoulder as a passenger in a July 31 taxi accident when the Mets were in Florida.
Sanchez hoped to be ready by Opening Day, but has since substantially backed off that optimistic position.
“I’m going to take my time with this,” he said.
Pitching coach Rick Peterson said he would have had a better gauge of when Sanchez might throw off the mound had he not missed three days of work. Randolph gave him yesterday off to collect his thoughts before resuming his rehab program today, but there’s still no timetable as to when he would get on the mound.
Earlier in the week, Minaya said Sanchez needed to pitch off the mound between March 15-20 to have any chance of being ready for the season opener.
“With this setback, it will be very tough,” Minaya said.
Sanchez is generally liked by his teammates, but they weren’t shy in expressing their disappointment with him. They all know what a healthy Sanchez means to the team.
When asked if he thought the meeting would be helpful, Wagner had only two words.