The Mets aren’t playing well this spring. There’s no sense sugarcoating it. Eventually, it won’t be “just spring training” anymore. Willie Randolph spoke of the need to start playing sharper and crisper baseball today in The Journal News.
By JOHN DELCOS
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: March 12, 2007)
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The Mets beat Detroit 4-2 and tied Florida 5-5 in split squad games yesterday.
Having won only four games in spring training is not an issue and while Randolph isn’t yet worrying about overall team results, he is beginning to take notice of individual performance.
The process of not being overly analytical of players through the first two weeks of games is ending because performance eventually determines roster spots.
“Winning and losing doesn’t matter now, but you always want to play crisp,” Randolph said.
The Mets haven’t hit with runners in scoring position; their staff ERA is over five runs a game; and lately they’ve been sloppy in the field.
While it is easy to brush things off by saying the Mets are using a lot of Double-A and Triple-A players, it must be noted five of their eight losses have been charged to pitchers expected to be on the major-league roster and a sixth to Jon Adkins, who could be.
Tom Glavine did not pitch well yesterday, giving up four runs in four innings, and after three starts said he should be further ahead in his control.
“It’s still not where I want it to be,” said Glavine. “It’s not as consistent as I would like it to be.”
Offensively, the Mets are 5 for 54 over their last four games with runners in scoring position, and that’s not just a recent trend.
Randolph said at the start of spring training he wanted to see his hitters have better approaches at the plate.
Shawn Green, who opened the spring with a 0-for-13 slide, said, “I’m starting to feel better at the plate and getting better swings.”
He’s still working on timing. What he’s not yet doing is thinking about taking pitches to work a pitcher or advancing a runner.
After 13 games, that’s going to change for everybody.
“We’re starting to look at that,” Randolph said. “After 20 at-bats, we’ll start to focus on that a little bit.”
Over the next three weeks, the projected regulars and pitchers will see more time against the opposition regulars.
Glavine said improvement has to begin shortly.
“I don’t think we’re in that mode where we can flip a switch at the end of spring training,” Glavine said. “We know our record is not what we’d like it to be, and that has to be addressed.”
It will be by everybody playing better.
Valentin skeptical: Jose Valentin won’t just take Duaner Sanchez’s apology when it is offered, saying the words must come with actions.
“It isn’t easy to apologize,” Valentin said. “He has to show he means it by what he does. He has to work hard. We will help him, but the ball is in his court.”
Around the horn: Carlos Delgado returned to the lineup after missing five games with a stiff neck and reported no problems. … Juan Padilla struck out two in a scoreless inning in his first appearance. … Julio Franco hopes to swing a bat tomorrow. His wrist is still sore from receiving a cortisone injection. … Paul Lo Duca did not play because of a stomach virus and is questionable for today. … Major League Baseball will conduct its annual spring briefing this morning on security issues. … Mets pitchers vs. Washington today at Viera, Fla.: Chan Ho Park, Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman and Adkins.