By Mike Steffanos
Today is the first day of full squad workouts at Mets camp in Port St. Lucie. Some of the storylines that will dominate the spring are already starting to emerge. We've all heard more than enough about Pedro's toe, and the starting pitching depth in general. There are more candidates for the bullpen in camp than there are extras in a Hollywood blockbuster.
The second base job should be of particular interest this spring, as favorite whipping boy Kaz Matsui goes up against Brett Boone, who has handled the downside of his career about as well as the US Ski Team has handled the slopes in Italy. For both players, this is arguably their last chance to grab the brass ring. Brett Boone has stated that he will retire if he can't win the starting second base job. Kaz understands that it's an uphill climb for him to earn both the job and the respect of fans.
As interested as I am to see how the pitching shakes out, especially with Aaron Heilman, I appreciate the more human drama of this story. I've always been a sucker for the underdog -- an interesting question being who's the bigger underdog between the two? Meanwhile, Anderson Hernandez waits in the wings, along with Jeff Keppinger -- the Rodney Dangerfield of underdogs this spring.
Mets.com: Kaz' last stand
Bryan Hoch reports on Kaz Matsui's last chance to prove that he can play in New York. Matsui, who has spent significant stretches of the last two years on the injured list, will attempt to change that with the help of his personal coach Toru Kumazawa, who worked him out all winter and will continue training Kaz over the summer. For what it's worth, here are Matsui's thoughts, passed through an interpreter:
Every year is the same: I want to have a good season. Obviously, I just want to produce when we get into the season. The injuries come and go, but the motivation is there.
...I feel great right now. I feel like I probably am in better shape than past years.
Newsday: Pedro will miss first round of WBC
Jon Heyman and David Lennon report that Pedro Martinez will miss at least the first round of the World Baseball Classic, but still hopes to pitch in later rounds. The quote Mets GM Omar Minaya on Pedro's participation in the Classic:
We have full trust in Pedro. I think he wants to play, and he's going to do everything he can to play. But he is very understanding of the bigger issues. We're confident he'll be OK as far as the season goes. He's not going to risk his career or his year for the sake of playing.
Baseball America: Top Prospects
BA has their new top 100 prospects posted, and 2 Mets actually crack the list:
9. LASTINGS MILLEDGE, of, Mets
"He's going to be an all-star caliber player. You hit home runs with a quick bat, which he's got, and down the road he could steal 35 to 40 bases."
36. MIKE PELFREY, rhp, Mets
"He's one of the few guys in the aluminum-bat era who gets people out with his fastball. Ben Sheets is another guy who could do that."
--Former Mets scouting director Russ Bove
NY Times: Big Brother
Ben Shpigel has a nice look at the Beltran - Delgado friendship, and the contrast between the two players.
Daily News: Pedro thinks Manny stays in Boston
Adam Rubin cites Pedro Martinez that Manny Ramirez will remain with the Red Sox. Rubin also notes that Jose Parra, one of the hoard of arms brought in for bullpen auditions, will miss the entire season with an elbow condition that requires surgery.