The New York Mets completed their spring training with a whimper, losing to the Baltimore Orioles, 11-0, in Sarasota, Fla., on Saturday.
Still, manager Jerry Manuel suggested the 2010 Amazin’s are ready for Monday’s Opening Day matinee featuring Johan Santana against Marlins ace right-hander Josh Johnson. Whether that’s wishful thinking remains to be seen.
“Obviously you’d like to have your shortstop at least,” Manuel said, referring to Jose Reyes, who will spend a minimum of the season’s first four games on the disabled list. “But I think we’re ready. I think we’ve still got to pitch. We’re going to have to pitch. I think we’ll catch it. I think that we’ll hit -- hopefully timely -- and win some games.”
In the finale, left-hander Jon Niese tossed four scoreless innings before surrendering a grand slam to Miguel Tejada during a five-run fifth. Sean Green, the final reliever to make the team, was charged with four runs in the sixth inning, including a two-run homer by Nolan Reimold.
“Obviously it’s another outing where the numbers don’t show how good I felt out there,” Niese said. “But it’s one bad inning.”
Niese overcame a gruesome hamstring tendon tear suffered Aug. 5 at Citi Field against the St. Louis Cardinals to earn the rotation role. He was bedridden after surgery for three weeks, and didn’t throw off a mound until the team’s voluntary minicamp in mid-January. Manuel earlier this year didn’t expect Niese would be in the fifth-starter’s mix because team officials believed he would need to be treated gingerly during camp while recovering from the injury.
Now, after Manuel adjusted the rotation this week, Niese technically is the No. 3 starter. Well, at least he will pitch the season’s third game, Thursday against Florida Marlins right-hander Anibal Sanchez.
“I worked real hard in the offseason,” Niese said. “I didn’t have much of a life because I was rehabbing. All the hard work paid off.”
Niese finished the Grapefruit League schedule with a 6.52 ERA. The Mets collectively had a 5.19 ERA while going 14-16-1.
Among prominent players, David Wright hit .278 with five homers in 54 at-bats, while Jason Bay hit .340 with four homers in 53 at-bats. The spring’s top average belonged to first base prospect Ike Davis, who hit .480 with three homers in 25 at-bats before being dispatched to minor-league camp. Davis opens the 2010 season at Triple-A Buffalo.
HOMECOMING: Frank Catalanotto, who squeezed onto the roster along with Mike Jacobs once Daniel Murphy suffered a sprained right knee ligament and headed to the DL, is thrilled to be able to play at Citi Field in his career’s twilight. The 35-year-old Catalanotto grew up in Smithtown, Long Island. He still lives there. The utility man, who believes his best position is left field, lives five minutes from his parents’ home, in a house he built four years ago.
“It’s been a dream of mine to be able to play at home and have my family and friends there. It will be really special to be out there,” Catalanotto said. “It’s a different feeling. I’m really proud of myself with the start that I got off to in the spring. I think I was 1-for-my-first-13, and I wasn’t getting a lot of at-bats, and I didn’t really get my timing down. It didn’t look good for me. I just said to myself, ‘Hey, this is something that you really want. Take it seriously the last two or three weeks of spring.’ I was able to start seeing the ball better and get some hits. I felt like I won the job.”
As for Jacobs and Catalanotto both making the team, the Long Island native said: “It wasn’t something that really was going to be likely, but it happened.”