We’re well past the Ides of March. The clouds are parting, the wind is dying down, the air is warmer. Spring is officially here, and the Spring-feel is knocking at the door. In fact, if the weather in New York last week is any indication, it’s pounding with both fists and steel-toed boots. To say it was “unseasonably warm” last week is to say “Babe Ruth could hit a little.”
In baseball terms, Opening Day beckons a little over a week from now and we Met fans have all heard, ad nauseum, how bad this 2012 team is going to be. The predictions generally run to 75 wins or southerly points. Could be, but Met fans – the old New Breed or the new New Breed – have been bred to look on the bright side. It’s in the DNA. Amazin’! Miracles! Ya Gotta Believe! Gets By Buckner! Grand Slam Single! Recently, the side got a wee bit brighter with some good news on the health front. Yes, you read that correctly: the Mets, of all people, are getting healthy. This wave of good health has been at least four years coming, so the young fan can get excited to see the team at mostly full strength, and the more cynical of us can say “It’s about time.” The good news centers on three key spots on the roster: third base, first base and starting pitcher.
David Wright – Having endured inexplicable rising strike out rates, season-long slumps, a beaning and a broken back, Wright might be feeling the scrutiny that accompanies his return. The fact that he smacked a single in his first at-bat in 2012 competition AND was able to make a sparkling dive to his right to snuffle a base hit gives us fans a glimmer of what may be in store in Flushing this year. Oh, and they moved the fences in for him. Basically, we’re hoping 2008-vintage Wright is back on display. If he is, the comfort level of the faithful rises commensurately.
Ike Davis – Quite frankly, seeing Ike on the field at all is a welcome sight. Rebounding from his dented shinbone and a mystery malady called Valley Fever, Davis has moved back into a groove so smoothly, I had forgotten he was a concern at all. He’s gone right back to smacking line drives and hoovering up any baseball that strays into his general vicinity.
Johan Santana – This, of course, is the elephant in the room. None of the Mets’ hierarchy will admit this publicly, but they have to be feeling sunk if Johan isn’t up to snuff. His progress this spring has been textbook: increased pitch counts, increased innings, increased velocity, increased command. It appears to be a clockwork progression to reclaiming his rightful spot as the Opening Day starter. A mere 14 months after major shoulder surgery, this is nothing short of miraculous.
These three would have held the Mets’ fate even if there had been no health issues. That fact that they’re trotting out there at or near one hundred percent could give the beleaguered fan base just the jolt it needs. Now let’s see if it translates into early-season wins.
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