Johan Santana: whoever says I’m not going to pitch this year “is lying”

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On Saturday Steve Popper and Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record reported that Johan Santana’s rehab has not been progressing well and that Mets sources are concerned that he may not pitch at all in 2011.  The team refuted that report yesterday.  But in today’s Daily News, Santana refutes it even more strongly:

“I don’t know who’s saying that I’m not ready or whatever because according to everything, the way it has been done, we’re right on the right track and where we’re supposed to be. Whoever is saying that I’m not ready I think is lying.”

If this were any other team we’d probably be obligated to give the benefit of the doubt, but it’s the Mets we’re talking about here.  Yes, they’re under new management, but they are coming off a recent run of being less-than-forthcoming when it comes to injuries so some trust needs to be regained before we simply take their word for it.

Indeed, last year at this time the Mets were refuting my report that Kelvim Escobar was seriously hurt, insisting that he merely had a “tired shoulder” and would be pitching any day. Indeed, Johan Santana himself was one of the people quoted as saying that Escobar was throwing the ball well and that his rehab from a winter injury was coming along nicely. That turned out to not be the case.

I’m hoping that the Sandy Alderson regime has put an end to the propaganda and I’m hoping that Popper and Klapisch merely spoke to someone with bad information because life is better when Johan Santana is pitching than when he is not. At present, however, I’d be wary of taking the Mets or Santana’s claims about his rehab at face value and would prefer to be pleasantly surprised if and when he takes the mound this year.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.