Camp notes: Johan makes spring debut

March, 13, 2009

Johan SantanaAP Photo/Richard DrewWhile Johan Santana didn't look all that great, the fact that he did pitch is a good sign for fantasy owners.
• Mets Nation can breathe something of a sigh of relief Friday morning, as Johan Santana made his spring debut against the Marlins on Thursday night. He wasn't particularly good: He allowed four hits and three runs in 2 2/3 innings, but did throw only 10 pitches in a perfect first frame. His velocity reportedly was down a bit from where it usually is, but that's to be expected. Most important is that the elbow tightness that caused Santana to be scratched from his first spring start hasn't recurred, and Santana no longer looks in danger of missing Opening Day. Until we hear that he's had another setback, it's safe to draft Santana as you normally would, which is to say: optimistically, if cautiously. He has seen his velocity slip a bit the past couple years overall, and he is coming off knee surgery. But he's certainly one of the top starting pitching options in fantasy (if not the top).

• The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Brad Lidge was able to throw an inning in Wednesday's intrasquad game after missing time with a sore forearm. He allowed a home run to J.J. Furmaniak, but came through the session without pain. He can go back to being one of the NL's top fantasy closers, though a season as perfect as 2008 isn't likely to recur.

• The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Ken Griffey Jr. is "slotted to split time between left field and DH, depending on his health," which potentially puts playing time for Jeff Clement in serious jeopardy. Kenji Johjima continues to be the Mariners' top catching option, and if Griffey can't play the field, you'd likely see some combination of Wladimir Balentien and Endy Chavez in left. Clement could still find time at first base, where he's taken some grounders this spring, if Russell Branyan doesn't work out as the starter (not hard to imagine that happening), and it's not as if Johjima's playing time is sacrosanct. But anyone drafting Clement assuming even 400 big league at-bats may be deluding him or herself.

• Just when you thought the Mariners' closing gig couldn't get any messier, the team signed Chad Cordero on Thursday. Cordero is coming off shoulder surgery and reportedly isn't ready to begin pitching in games, but if he's able to make it to the big league squad at some point this season, he's probably got more closing chops than anyone in a group that includes Miguel Batista, Mark Lowe, Roy Corcoran, Tyler Walker and David Aardsma. Cordero is not draftable right now in any but the very deepest AL-only leagues, but we should all stow the name deep in the recesses of our saves-hungry minds.

• reports that the Mets continue to discuss the possibility of signing Ivan Rodriguez. Of course, they've currently got Brian Schneider and Ramon Castro behind the dish, so they'd have to make space by ridding themselves of one of those two less-than-exciting players. While Castro is an intriguing offensive guy when he's healthy, he's just not durable enough to rely on; it wouldn't be a shock to see Pudge wind up in some kind of time-share with Schneider before March is over. Of course, Rodriguez was awful in 2008, so it's hard to see how he helps your fantasy team much in '09.

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• ESPN's own Jerry Crasnick reports that the Dodgers have discussed the possibility of signing Pedro Martinez. Los Angeles definitely seems in need of a fifth starter, as Jason Schmidt and Claudio Vargas have looked pretty messy this spring. But Joe Torre did tell ESPN's Tim Kurkjian that while he has had conversations about Pedro, the Dodgers haven't even gone so far as to contact the Hall of Fame righty. It's been pretty funny to partake in AL-only and NL-only drafts early this spring, because Martinez has regularly been drafted in the final rounds of both flavors.

Chris Carpenter pitched four scoreless innings Thursday against a Red Sox lineup that included Julio Lugo, Jason Varitek, Jed Lowrie and, well, not much else. But hey, the Cardinals have to be thrilled that Carpenter has pitched eight scoreless innings so far this spring, no matter whom he's been getting out. Watch him as the spring progresses, but Carpenter may be on the verge of making himself quite relevant in mixed leagues, in his return from elbow surgery.

• The Chicago Tribune reports that Bartolo Colon has been cleared to start a spring training game for the first time this spring on Monday. Colon had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow last fall, and has reportedly been impressive in side sessions. He's still probably an option in only a deep AL-only league at this point.

Jorge Posada is expected to catch his first game of the spring this Sunday. How his shoulder holds up this year will be one of the Yankees' primary stories in '09. You know, outside that whole Alex Rodriguez business.

Vernon Wells performed running drills for the first time since he hurt his left hamstring on Wednesday, and reported "feeling good." He hopes to be able to play in a game by next week, which would be good news, considering initial reports had him tearing the hamstring and possibly missing the start of the regular season.



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