Mets lose Beltran to DL, bring back Fernando

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Already down their third- and fourth-best position players, the Mets
just lost No. 1 when it was decided that Carlos Beltran would need a
couple of weeks off to rest his troublesome right knee.

It appears as though Beltran has been making the calls here. Though
he kept playing through the pain over the weekend, he chose to have an
MRI on Monday which apparently revealed that the bone bruise he
suffered last month has either gotten worse or at least failed to
improve. Clearly, the two weeks off was preferable to a second
cortisone shot that might not numb the pain for any longer than the
first one did.

The Mets have decided to bring back Fernando Martinez to replace
Beltran. Martinez, of course, was just sent down last week after
hitting .194/.286/.274 in 62 at-bats. Now the club has to determine
whether it makes sense to go with Martinez in center and hope that his
bat heats up or if it should play Jeremy Reed’s superior glove in
center field. Reed has hit .294/.324/.368 in 68 at-bats this season,
giving him a 692 OPS that’s barely above his 680 career mark. Martinez
will certainly be the choice against lefties, but Reed may currently be
the better option against righties.

At this point, the Mets should be content if they enter the All-Star
break at .500. They’ve had more obstacles to deal with than the
Phillies have thus far, yet they’re still just two games back in the NL
East. Also, there’s no one at all likely to run away with the wild
card. If they can get Jose Reyes and Beltran back after the break,
perhaps Carlos Delgado in August and add a pitcher before the deadline,
then they’ll still be in very good position to set themselves up for
another spectacular final-week failure (I kid, I kid).

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉