By Mike Steffanos
Televising a lot of spring training games is a relatively recent phenomenon. When I started following the Mets spring training coverage was pretty light, and mostly in print. You had to take someone else's word for what was going on, unless you were one of the lucky few that could make the trip down to Florida to see for yourself.
Last year I didn't have SNY until the third game of the season, so this is my first chance to see a lot of spring training games. I'm really enjoying the experience, particularly with all of the jobs up for grabs going into the year. We can watch these battles take place right before our eyes and decide for ourselves which candidate offers the most promise.
It occurs to me, however, that the downside of this privilege is the temptation to make premature judgments on players based on what we see. It's easy to forget that spring training -- in particularly early on -- is about working on things and getting ready for the season. I constantly find myself guilty of making snap judgments on guys based on a dozen at bats or a couple of innings pitched.
While we now have the opportunity to watch the early outings of the guys who are competing for those starting rotation jobs, we're not there while they are pitching bullpen sessions and conferring with Rick Peterson and staff on what their goals are in these early spring contests. As I watched Oliver Perez' first two appearances, I find myself looking at each pitch delivered with intensity -- as if somehow the answer as to whether Perez will help the Mets or bury them in 2007 can somehow be gleaned from what I see. Not knowing exactly what the plan is for Oliver Perez, I really can't adequately judge his progress. I realize I need to kick back a little and just give it a chance to play out.
Shawn Green -- who I admit to being quite skeptical of going back to the trade rumors last year -- thinks he has found something that will enable him to be a productive power hitter again. Then he goes 0-13 to open the year and, of course, we're all wondering if the Mets would be willing to eat his contract and play Milledge, Johnson or Chavez. Hey, I'm still skeptical of the guy, but could we please give him a couple of more weeks before we completely write him off?
As I said before, this really is my first spring where I have the opportunity to watch so many games. I'm learning how to watch these games, and I think the first lesson is to relax a little. In a couple of weeks there will be plenty of time to either praise or bury Oliver Perez, Phil Humber, Shawn Green and Moises Alou. For now I'm going to dial it down a notch.
I will be back later to write about Chan Ho Park's first game of the spring. It's being televised on the Red Sox' network, which I get, so I'm DVRing it to watch later on.