By Mike Steffanos
It's finally here. Tomorrow, workouts will begin in earnest for pitchers and catchers in St. Lucie. Next week the position players will show up. Soon after that spring training games will start. Of course, my cable company here in CT still has no idea what SNY is -- I'm scouting out a spot for the dish even as we speak.
After a winter of major moves, after all of the debates, guys have to show up and win jobs. Soon we won't be speculating on how Aaron Heilman will do as a starter, we'll be judging his performance -- unless, of course, John Maine, Brian Bannister, Jose Lima, Alay Soler or Yusaka Iriki sneak in and steal that rotation slot away.
Mets.com: Meet John Maine
Marty Noble has a feature on one of this winter's pickups, RHP prospect John Maine. On the to-do list for the 23-year-old this spring is to try to develop a curve ball:
I've been throwing [a curve] for a long time, but not very well. It's more than a 'show-me' pitch, but I can't control it.
Omar has repeatedly referred to Maine as an important part of the Benson deal. From what little I've read, his biggest problems are related to poor mechanics. You would hope that would be right up Rick Peterson's alley. If Maine could develop as a dependable fourth or fifth starter, and Jorge Julio could stop giving up quite so many tape-measure home runs, Omar could be looking a lot better down the road.
Noble also relates this funny story concerning Ramon Castro:
The truth: Ramon Castro, the understudy to Mike Piazza last season and to Paul Lo Duca this year, is in his second camp with the Mets. He unpacked his bags Friday morning, went through the physical and other tests and plopped down on the stool by his locker. "The first day is always the hardest," he said.
After an extended pause, he fessed up.
"It really isn't, but we just say that. I don't know why."
Mets.com: Willie Randolph Profile
Bryan Hoch offers up an excellent interview with Mets manager Willie Randolph. Hoch quotes Randolph on his desire to spend more time teaching this year, even if it means spending less time with the media:
There comes a point where you've got to cut it off. I want to be more hands-on this year, because I think that's important. We're talking about guys understanding what you want and how to do what you want them to do; the only way you do that is to be out in the trenches on the field, coaching and teaching.
AP: It's all about winning
Mike Fitzpatrick reports that Mets players are not shying away from their role as the front runners in the NL east in 2006. He quotes manager Willie Randolph:
I'll be straight-up: We've got a chance to do something real special this year. We've got a good ballclub.
...I relish the responsibility, that's why I'm here. I've always been about winning.
I'm on record as saying I believe Randolph will put it together as a manager this year.
Fox Sports: Something to prove
Ken Rosenthal lists MLB players with "something to prove in 2006." A former all-star second baseman is one of them:
Bret Boone, 2B, Mets. Dumped by both the Mariners and Twins last season, Boone, 36, worked like a demon this winter, trying to regain his old form. With a big spring, he could force the Mets to trade Kaz Matsui once and for all.
Could you imagine the pressure on Boone, if he replaces a fan favorite like Matsui? Okay, maybe it won't be too bad...
Mets.com: A prospect you may not have heard of
Kevin Czerwinski, who covers primarily the minor-league ballplayers for Mets.com, profiles RHP prospect Jason Scobie. Scobie had 15 victories at AAA-Norfolk in 2005, but his lack of glove-popping velocity has forced him to work twice as hard to earn a chance to prove he can succeed at the major league level.
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