New York Mets: Rick Peterson to Learn from Johan Santana

Dan SiegelSenior Analyst IMarch 12, 2008

New York Mets’ pitching coach Rick Peterson joined Rob Dibble and Kevin Kennedy on XM radio’s MLB Home Plate channel to talk about the state of the Mets’ pitching staff.

Peterson immediately received questions about working with Johan Santana.

One might think that the savvy, technologically-oriented Peterson would have gone on to say that he actually noticed flaws in Santana’s mechanics and has found a way to make his changeup more devastating.

Instead, Peterson spoke about how much he is looking forward to learn from Johan.  He wants to learn what makes Johan so great and apply that knowledge to teaching some of the younger pitchers.

One thing Peterson was able to pick up on was Santana’s work ethic.  Peterson mentioned during the interview that, “…preparation equals performance.”  He noted that Santana works hard no matter the situation, whether it is live game action or a side session.  Johan always has an intense look on his face whenever a pitch is about to leave his hand.

Peterson stated that he has seen many pitchers with good stuff, in the same class as Santana and Martinez, but many of these guys never make it because they simply do not prepare enough.

He likened it to studying for a test.  If the student walks into the test and can start telling someone what the questions are going to be, then that student will ace the exam.  Similarly, if a pitcher is prepared for a game, both mentally and physically, that pitcher will have a much easier time getting outs.

In addition to the Santana talk, Peterson reports that Pedro Martinez thinks he hasn’t felt this good in ten years.  Peterson told Dibble and Kennedy that having Santana and Martinez as a 1-2 punch is any pitching coach’s dream, and likened it to working with Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito in Oakland.

Peterson rattled off a list of bullpen candidates who he has been impressed with, including incumbent closer Billy Wagner who has been working on a changeup and a second breaking ball.  He also likes the way Pedro Feliciano looks and expects that Feliciano should perform like he has over the last two seasons.

Another lefty Peterson likes is veteran, non-roster invitee Ricardo Rincon.  Rincon has yet to give up an earned run this spring and recorded a strikeout in a scoreless inning of work in the latest contest against the Baltimore Orioles.  Peterson worked with Rincon in Oakland, which may help Ricardo’s quest to land a roster spot.

Peterson also likes what he sees out of young Joe Smith.  Smith matched Rincon’s stats in the eighth inning of the Oriole game, but is sporting a hefty 7.20 ERA from some rough early outings.

Two righties that Smith will be competing with are imports Matt Wise (Milwaukee) and Brian Stokes (Tampa Bay).  Both have been solid this spring and have earned Peterson’s praise.