Report: Johan Santana may miss all of the 2011 season

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“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.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.