“Internally, the Mets believe they’ll be “lucky” if Santana pitches this year.”
That is a stand-alone paragraph in a Sunday morning report by Steve Popper and Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record. According to their sources, Santana has made very little progress in his ongoing recovery from September shoulder surgery and the Mets are ready to announce that he has been shut down indefinitely. The left-hander was already expected to be out until late June or early July, and now it’s possible that he could be sidelined for the duration of the 2011 season.
The Mets have already refuted the report, with pitching coach Dan Warthen telling ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin that progress “has been great” and that “everything is going right on target, maybe a little ahead.”
But Popper and Klapisch aren’t the only reporters saying that Santana is in trouble.
ESPN’s Buster Olney heard from a source that the Mets “aren’t expecting much” from their ace in 2011. David Waldstein of the New York Times talked to a shoulder expert who indicated the same thing.
The truth may lie somewhere in between the Bergen Record‘s report and Warthen’s claims. What we do know is that Santana has only begun playing light catch and is far from ready to step atop a mound.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.