07/07/12 4:45 PM ET
Valdespin brings excitement, passion to Mets
By Adam Rosenbloom and Ethan Asofsky / MLB.com
What some might have considered flaunting or showboating was actually waving. The 24-year-old's mother traveled from the Dominican Republic to watch her son play underneath the lights at Citi Field for the first time.
"That's my personality, you know?" Valdespin said. "I hit the ball and be happy. My mother was in the stands, and I wanted to say hello to my mother."
But Friday wasn't the first incident where Valdespin's excitement has become apparently visible. Mets manager Terry Collins understands that's a part of his game, and it's a big reason why he can't keep him out of the lineup. Valdespin arrived at the ballpark on Saturday and found his name penciled in at sixth in the order and starting in left field for the second game of the team's series against the Cubs. In his first at-bat in the second inning, Valdespin launched a solo homer to nearly the exact same spot in right-center as his shot on Friday night.
"He plays with flare, so sometimes that bothers players on the other team," Collins said. "If it causes them to get out of their game plan, then it's successful the way he plays. He does love to be on the stage, and right now, we're going to see today what he can bring to us."
Valdespin was sent down to Triple-A Buffalo on June 24 to clear space for Ruben Tejada's return to the Mets' 25-man roster, but he did everything in his power to prove he belonged back at the Major League level. He talked with Buffalo manager Wally Backman about staying focused, and Valdespin responded by going 10-for-31 (.323) with a home run and four RBIs in the seven games he played before getting recalled.
Collins said he decided to play Valdespin on Saturday because of the difficult matchup he could present to Chicago right-hander Jeff Samardzija. With second baseman Daniel Murphy swinging the bat well, Valdespin played away from his natural position and manned the outfield, something he might have to get used to. Collins already has Valdespin taking fly balls and doing regular outfield work every day during batting practice.
"He brings a lot of things," Collins said. "Besides his bat, his foot speed -- he can steal a base. We talked about trying to get him some at-bats to try to get a better gauge on him."
This is a good week to do that, as Valdespin's mother will be staying in Manhattan for the remainder of the homestand.
Mets tab Johan to start second-half opener
NEW YORK -- Terry Collins has already started planning his post-All Star break rotation.
If Johan Santana's twisted right ankle sustained during Friday's start proves to be of no issue -- the left-hander said it shouldn't be a big deal during his postgame news conference -- Collins said he will be the scheduled starter for Friday's second-half opener against the Braves.
"He said he feels fine," Collins said.
Santana sustained the injury in the fifth inning on Friday when he attempted to barehand Justin Turner's flip at first base. Reed Johnson, who had hit a soft infield grounder, then stepped on Santana's already twisted ankle as he ran through the base.
"It's a little tender today, which you would expect after being stepped on," Collins said. "He said he's fine and he's going to do stuff. He's going to throw long tomorrow, then do his side early next week, so he'll be fine."
Collins said that Santana will take a day or two off to rest the ankle, but he will throw a bullpen session either Tuesday or Wednesday to prepare for Friday's start.
R.A. Dickey, who will make his first career All-Star appearance on Tuesday, is expected to follow Santana and get the nod on Saturday against Atlanta. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee will start the next two games -- though not necessarily in that order -- and Chris Young will round out the rotation.
"It actually works out great for me, because it puts me on my normal routine, it's almost like a bullpen day anyway," Dickey said of his All-Star workload. "Being a knuckleballer, I have a little bit more latitude with the way that I can work in between outings."
Dickey was available out of the bullpen on Saturday against the Cubs. He is a strong candidate to start for the National League on Tuesday in Kansas City.
Collins said he wants to be careful with Andres Torres' back injury and will wait another day before testing the outfielder with a strenuous workout.
Torres visited with trainers on Saturday and said he felt much better than he did a day before. He even speculated he could be used as a defensive replacement on Saturday if necessary.
Torres was in poor condition on Friday, feeling the injury whenever he twisted his body. That pain was gone when he woke up Saturday morning.
Frank Francisco threw off a mound on Saturday for the first time since he was placed on the disabled list with an injured oblique on June 23. Collins wasn't sure how many pitches his closer threw or the exact results of the session.
Collins hoped Francisco would only need to throw a bullpen session on Saturday and Monday before appearing in a rehab game on Wednesday.
"I guess it all depends how he throws and how he looks for how many bullpen sessions he has to have before he gets into a [rehab] game," Collins said.
Adam Rosenbloom and Ethan Asofsky are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.