02/18/2013 3:25 PM ET
Mets won't let Santana play in World Baseball Classic
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets on Monday officially denied Johan Santana permission to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, citing concern over his overall health and ability to prepare for the season.
"He wants to play," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "We know that. We'd like him to be able to pitch. But under the circumstances, we don't think it's in his best interest or ours."
"Our country is big in baseball," Santana said, acknowledging that he understood the decision. "We love the game. To have an opportunity to have an international competition is very important, and I know how important it is. And I really wanted to be part of it."
Though Santana, 33, was not on the provisional roster that Team Venezuela released last month, he reported to Mets camp hoping to play. Doing so would have required the Classic to insure the $31 million remaining on his contract, because Santana ended last season on the disabled list.
Even if Santana had managed to overcome that issue, the Mets had no desire to subject him to the rigors of full-speed competition so early in March. Team Venezuela plays its first game on March 7, with players reporting to camp about a week earlier.
To join them, Santana would have needed to accelerate his throwing program. The left-hander has thrown off a mound just once since August, firing 20 pitches on Sunday. Returning to the Mets last year after more than a full season spent rehabbing from left shoulder surgery, Santana battled through an ankle injury, lower back inflammation, and an extreme second-half drop-off in performance.
"I'm glad he's going to be in camp so we can monitor what's going on," manager Terry Collins said. "If it had been OK with Sandy and everyone else, I was fine with it. But I'm glad he's going to be here."
The Mets planned to inform Major League Baseball of their decision on Monday, while Santana planned to personally contact Venezuelan manager Luis Sojo. David Wright will be the Mets' lone representative in this year's Classic.
Even without Santana, Venezuela is considered one of the favorites in next month's event.
"That's something I really wanted to do, represent my country," said Santana, who did not pitch in the 2009 Classic due to rehab from knee surgery. "At the same time, I understand everything [the Mets] are saying and doing, and there's not much I can do about it."
Murphy sidelined with strained intercostal muscle
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The first injury of camp struck on Monday, when the Mets shut down second baseman Daniel Murphy indefinitely with a strained right intercostal muscle.
Murphy, who will fly to New York City on Tuesday for an examination and possible cortisone shot, said he has been feeling soreness in his side since the offseason. The Mets are being proactive with him after David Wright and Scott Hairston both missed significant time last spring with similar injuries. Both players received cortisone injections and made it back in time for Opening Day.
"Unfortunately it's something that happened," Murphy said. "But for it to happen early, I think we'll be able to get this out of the way, and I don't see it being a problem after the next week to 10 days."
Murphy said he played through some soreness in his midsection late last season and feels well enough that he could play if it were the regular season.
Since it is not, he will rest.
"You worry about everybody, but Dan Murphy's one of those guys that you can't stop him," manager Terry Collins said. "He's never had this before ... so he just wants to quiet it down now. If he misses the first two or three games, it's not a big issue."
Collins delivers fiery annual team address
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though Terry Collins vowed not to work himself into too much of a frenzy during his annual team address on Monday, the manager was clearly audible through a wall connecting the meeting room to Tradition Field's media center.
"He starts pretty calm, and just gets progressively louder and louder and more excited," third baseman David Wright said. "He made a point to say he wasn't going to get too fiery during the speech, but by the end of it he was yelling and screaming at us. It was the same old Terry. He has a passion and a fire for what he does, and I think that rubs off on the younger players."
Just because the Mets do not have a room filled with sizeable contracts and household names, Collins told his players, does not mean they are incapable.
"The one thing I don't want these guys ever to think if we get beat or we lose a game, it's because we're not supposed to win because we're not good enough," Collins said. "That's not true. These guys are in the [top] percentile of baseball players in this country, this world. They're good enough."
• The Mets re-signed left-handed reliever Justin Hampson, who reported directly to Minor League camp. Hampson posted a 2.33 ERA in 51 appearances for Triple-A Buffalo last season, also appearing in 13 games for the Mets.
• General manager Sandy Alderson said the United States consulate in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic could issue right-hander Jenrry Mejia a visa before Major League Baseball completes its investigation into Mejia's age and identity. But Alderson does not know for certain, and is unsure when the Mets will have a resolution. Mejia has been working out at the team's complex in the D.R.
• Pitching prospect Cory Mazzoni shined at the Mets' first bowling night on Sunday, submitting the evening's high score with a 216. Justin Turner rolled two late strikes to lead his team back from a 70-point deficit against a squad led by David Wright, who claims he averaged approximately 160 in his games. "Not a good way to start," Wright said.