Sanchez gets harsh lesson
Tardy reliever to return to action Sunday after three-day ban
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Sunrise on the Atlantic can be just as enchanting as sunset on the Pacific, though it lacks the cachet of its California cousin. Now, for sure, Duaner Sanchez can compare the two. A one-time Dodger and veteran of the Pacific Coast League, Sanchez arrived at the Mets' camp Saturday morning about the same time the top of the big orange disc made its weekend debut on the right coast.
He wanted to be sure this time.
Tardiness is classified as a misdemeanor offense in the Mets' law books, punishable by a multi-day banishment, a fine, a public scolding, a private meeting and a couple dozen mea culpas. Promptness would have been easier.
His lateness lesson learned, Sanchez has made most of his amends. Only some one-on-one apologies to his teammates remain. And Sunday morning, assuming the 2 a.m. daylight savings time change hasn't tripped him, the rehabbing reliever will be back on the field and in the good graces of an organization that likes its Spring Training camps to run like clockwork.
He met with manager Willie Randolph and general manager Omar Minaya at 8 a.m. ET, having arrived eight minutes early, one side of the other of the 6:52 a.m. sunrise, listened, lamented and left. He blamed his lateness on oversleeping. He is to resume his customized post-op workouts Sunday, posthaste.
"I should be a little more responsible, getting here on time," Sanchez said before his departure and a third straight day without conditioning.
Reminded of the perils of "spring forward/fall back," he promised, "That won't happen."
Probably not, though Tom Glavine suggested the time change would catch someone napping.
"How many guys do we have in camp ... 48? I put the over-under at 2 1/2," Glavine said.
Sanchez had reported about an hour late Thursday morning, according to Minaya. Randolph noted the late arrival was not unprecedented for Sanchez, citing one instance last spring and "a few times" this year.
The three men involved in the summit said they were satisfied with it. Sanchez said it lasted some 30 to 45 minutes.
"That long?" one teammate said. "How many different ways can you say 'Get here on time?' "
Randolph alphabetized the thrust of what he had said.
"We covered everything from A to Z. He heard me loud and clear," the manager said.
Sanchez emerged repeating the Randolph mantra, "We're here to work. ... I'm very sorry this happened, because we came to Spring Training to work."
He spoke without emotion, but Randolph said Sanchez had become emotional during the meeting.
"A little misty-eyed," the manager said.
Later, Sanchez acknowledged he was embarrassed by the stir his lateness and camp exile had caused.
When Darryl Strawberry's alarm clock didn't work in 1989, there was no public apology.
The Sanchez episode may have come with some silver lining, serving, as it did, as a reminder to others that the manager has rules. The clubhouse is quite aware of the situation, though Randolph's discipline was directed at one player.
"It send a message that we're serious," Randolph said. "This is the right thing to do."
"It's a step that had to be taken," said Minaya, who is fully supportive of Randolph's discipline. "Of course, we'll keep an eye on him. He's understanding this can't happen again."
Several players applauded Randolph's response. One even used the theme of the day. "It's a wakeup call for all of us."
Up next: The Mets split up for a pair of afternoon games Sunday, visiting the reigning American League champion Tigers at 1:05 p.m. ET in Lakeland, Fla., and hosting the Marlins at 1:10 p.m. in Port St. Lucie.
Left-hander Glavine, who's allowed no runs on four hits over five innings in two spring starts, takes the hill against Detroit. Veteran right-hander Aaron Sele, who's vying for a spot on the staff, will start against the Marlins. Sele has struggled, having allowed five runs on eight hits over four innings in two games (one start).
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.