Rejoice! Games are here and we can now watch pitchers pitch, hitters hit, and fielders field. As an added bonus, we will no longer be subjected to filler stories about Bobby Bonilla’s salary or what David Wright likes to eat on Tuesdays. Needless to say, it is a time of the year we all look forward to.
However, I advise you to be careful my friends. I want to remind you not to put too much into what you see in the games and in the box scores. While spring training games give us a glimpse into what cards we have been dealt, you have to keep in mind what the players are focusing on. Scouting takes a back seat in the spring as players focus on themselves. Pitchers focus on specific pitches or locations regardless of the scoreboard and who they are facing. Hitters spend little time in the video room watching the opposing pitcher as they work on their own timing, vision, and set up.
Putting it simply, they are getting ready. The fact that none of them being game ready is also something we need to consider when penciling in our ideal line ups. Stephen Strasburg will be a bit more sharp in the regular season and the Mets will have to face him for more than two innings. Managers will also be substituting for improved match-ups rather than rotating guys in each game little league style.
Don’t cry in your pina coladas yet. We will be able to glean some things as it is inevitable the actual game will dictate how a player approaches a certain situation. Yesterday’s game provided us an opportunity to see how Zach Wheeler would potentially handle situations in which he needs a strikeout. He didn’t disappoint. That’s the beauty of baseball. No matter what players are working on, they will be forced to ditch the pre-game development plan occasionally and be placed in a situation where they will have to display how they will perform when faced with a true test.
Enjoy the action and the debate, but don’t get too high or too low on a particular player or situation. Personally, I will be keeping an eye on the outfield as I am absolutely fascinated by the mix of guys vying for playing time. They have been given an outstanding opportunity to make it that doesn’t come around very often. They can thank Omar Minaya, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, and of course Fred and Jeffy Willpon.
So throw your feet up and enjoy the optimism. Take pleasure in soaking up the relaxed atmosphere as number 88 steps into the box to face number 76 in the eighth inning. Because no matter what happens this spring, the Mets will still be tied for first place on April 1st.