For the New York Mets, this spring has been very eventful and it will only get more interesting. They will be under a strong microscope to show that they have put two consecutive September collapses/meltdowns behind them, and that Jerry Manuel is in control of a team who needed a radical changeup in attitude and approach.
Manuel has been preaching a "team first" message and does not want any one of his guys to play the part of the hero, they must all work together and do their part to get the job done every game, and that no one player is more or less responsible for failures and successes than any other teammate.
The first major concern of this team entering Opening Day is their starting rotation for the other pitchers besides Johan Santana, who did give everyone a bit of a scare earlier in the spring but seems to have recovered just fine.
Mike Pelfrey should do fine, but innings pitched and arm burnout are a concern for him and he should be monitored closely by the Mets pitching and coaching staff.
Oliver Perez, what can I say, after a dismal WBC showing, returned to Port St Lucie and turned in an excellent pitching effort.
John Maine has yet to show consistent velocity and pitch location, the fear is that his mechanics have been altered due to his shoulder surgery last season.
Another main area of concern is the bullpen, which has been held mainly responsible for last season's failure to make it to the post season. With the departures of Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith, and Scott Schoenweiss, along with the additions of K-Rod, Sean Green and JJ Putz, things are definitely looking up, but time will tell.
The health and durability of several players, Luis Castillo and Carlos Delgado at the top of the list, are valid reasons for concern going into the season. Younger players, namely Daniel Murphy, Jose Reyes and David Wright will all see a great deal of playing time, and although David Wright's toe injury, while relatively minor at this point, will need to be watched closely.
Once K-Rod, JJ Putz and David Wright return to Spring Training camp, the climate in Port St Lucie will probably change drastically, as Manuel will finally have his whole team together for the first time in three weeks due to 16 of his players participating in the WBC.
They will all be watched closely as Jerry Manuel definitely seems to have a better sense of his players strengths and weaknesses are than Willie Randolph did, and he will work them all to their potential.
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