Mets News and Notes:
Johan Santana unexpectedly had hopped on a mound Sunday for the first time since Feb. 19, which pitching coach Dan Warthen subsequently suggested may have been motivated by public criticism of Santana’s pitching shape.
Said Collins: “I asked, ‘What did you get on the mound for?’ And he said, ‘Because I felt good.’ And I said, ‘It was unnecessary.’”
Collins nonetheless said Santana appeared to get through the activity fine.
While the Mets will not rule out Opening Day, Santana may end up opening the season later in the rotation or on the DL. Santana would need to ramp up quickly -- getting only three starts -- in order to be ready for April 1.
Said Collins: “I said, ‘The last thing I need is to have you wake up tomorrow stiff and then we take a huge step backward because you wanted to show everybody you’re OK. I understand what you’re doing, but once in a while you’ve just got to let stuff slide away. You’ve just got to let it roll off your back and move on and get yourself ready.’
“And he knew that. He’s a pro. But you guys have told me more than I’ve told you about what a competitor he is. And that’s the perfect example of it. … In retrospect, he knows he would have handled it a little bit differently. But he’s fine, and he wanted to show everybody he was fine.
“I just said, ‘Look, we’re going to do this the right way. We’re not going to hurt you. We’re not going to get you injured. I don’t care how upset you are about things, we’re going to do this the proper way. And April 1 is only a date on the calendar. It doesn’t mean anything if you’re not ready.’”
Zack Wheeler (oblique) should return to mound Thursday for his first bullpen session since being scratched last Wednesday with an oblique strain suffered swinging a bat in a cage.
“He’s not going to make the club anyway, so we’re going to err on the side of caution,” Collins said.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis suffered a bone bruise in his left knee but avoided ligament damage, he said after returning from an MRI on Monday morning.
Nieuwenhuis still was severely limping a day after suffering the injury on a headfirst slide stealing Sunday, on infield dirt he described as "like concrete." He will take anti-inflammatory medication.
"We'll see how it responds," Nieuwenhuis said. "... I feel pretty good about it. It could be a few days. It could be a week. We'll see. I just have to wait it out and see how it responds to medicine. I kind of knew when I was walking around the ligaments were fine. It is what it is. It's good news, but I don't want to miss time. I don't want to miss a game."
Nieuwenhuis dealt with an oblique injury last spring training, then finished the season injured in Triple-A with a partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot.
"It's probably the most frustrating part of the game," Nieuwenhuis said about the injuries, "but thankfully this isn't as serious."Collins described the bone bruise in Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ left knee as “really sore.”
“It’s going to probably be three to five days before he’s back on the field,” the manager added.