Mike Piazza is one of the most beloved New York Mets of all time, and yet the team’s relationship with their former catcher has gone south recently. Therefore recent reports of a growing feud with Johan Santana should come as no surprise to Mets’ fans.
Santana came to spring training hoping to play in the World Baseball Classic for his native country of Venezuela. However, New York did not want to risk the health of a pitcher they are paying $25 million this season for the sake of his nationalism, and thus kept Santana from playing in the tournament.
The team then removed Santana from their spring training rotation so that he could build up his arm strength, as they believed the former Cy Young winner came into camp out of pitching shape. Santana thinks he is ready to pitch, but the team is being cautious, which has frustrated the veteran.
The team and Santana need to settle their rift before it becomes a bigger issue or is prolonged into the regular season. Santana is a proud veteran who was once the most dominant pitcher in the MLB, but has been injured and inconsistent during his tenure with the Mets. Even if Santana believes he is ready to start pitching, the team’s investment in him makes their caution completely understandable. The 33-year-old left-hander is in second to last year of his contract with a $5.5 million dollar buyout after this year that the Mets will likely take.
Although the team is justified in its treatment of Santana, their officials have to communicate more with the pitcher so they can settle their differences if they hope to salvage what is left of his time in New York.