Notes: Sanchez gets a scare

Notes: Sanchez scare much ado about nothing

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets believe in body language. From watching the on-the-mound movements of Mike Pelfrey, they get the sense he feels he's ready for big-league duty. They have noticed how another rookie pitcher, Joe Smith, conducts himself in the clubhouse. They sense that he senses he belongs. And they can't take their eyes off first baseman Mike Carp. They see the first evidence of swagger.

So imagine what the Mets thought on Thursday morning when they saw Duaner Sanchez bend at the waist with his hands on his knees after he had thrown 11 pitches in his first on-mound session since surgery last summer. It didn't look good in any language.

The pose Sanchez struck early on a back field at the Mets' complex suggested something was amiss. Another day, another reason for pause for a member of the Mets bullpen -- at least the bullpen they'd like to have.

Turns out the body language was misinterpreted. Sanchez felt a sensation in his arm after experiencing a pop, a tingle similar to what he experienced last June when he suffered a pinched nerve. It caught his attention; it scared him, he acknowledged later. He experienced a "what now?" moment when all he had done, according to a Mets doctor, was tear through some adhesion in the shoulder.

The morning episode left him sore and, until Saturday, sentenced to the sidelines again. But by the time Sanchez showered, dressed and left the complex, he was certain he hadn't damaged the shoulder or any other body part.

"It's better to break it up now than later," he said.

Still, another two days of Sanchez's rehab now are lost. What he did Thursday almost doesn't count. By the time he does throw off a mound, the Mets' spring camp will have less than a week to go. And Sanchez's return won't be on the radar.

A day earlier, fellow reliever Juan Padilla was told not to pitch for two weeks. And the countdown to the return of Guillermo Mota hasn't even begun.

"That's why, at first, I was little scared. We all want to get back to help," Sanchez said. "Anything can scare you if you don't expect it. I never had surgery [before August], so I didn't know what to expect."

Shoulder II: Breaking adhesions probably sounds worse than it is. But for a pitcher, it is an essential part of recovering from injury and/or surgery. The most famous case in Mets history involved Jerry Koosman in the mid-1970s.

Koosman, the most accomplished left-hander -- as a Met -- in club history, had torn muscles between his left shoulder and his backbone. As Koosman recalls it, he healed quickly enough. But Koosman was warned by the Mets doctors that his fastball would be diminished upon his return.

"They told me I'd be OK, but I'd have to break away some adhesions before I could throw hard," Koosman said Thursday from Minneapolis. "I'd never heard of adhesions before, so I figured it would just happen, and I'd be OK.

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"But my first game back, I couldn't break glass with my fastball. I couldn't have struck me out. But the next time [I threw between starts], I felt something pop. It was painful, and I worried. 'Is this worse? Is this the end?' But the pain went away after a few minutes, and I was a little looser. I got my of my fastball back. Two or three times it happened again. And it made me more free again.

"It took a while. I don't know -- two or three months -- but I got most pf my fastball back. We were in LA, I was pitching and [Jon] Matlack and Tommy John were charting the game. They both had me at 105."

One-hundred-five? 105 what? Miles per hour?

"Yeah," Koosman said. "The guns were faster then."

They also timed pitches as they left pitcher's hands, not when they reached the plate.

"So tell that kid he'll get his fastball back," Koosman said. "And if he works hard, he'll get to 105, too."

Shoulder III: Keith Hernandez worked with Todd Zeile in Spring Training 2000 when Zeile was about to become the Mets' first baseman. And Hernandez believes he tore his rotator cuff then, making throws to second and third base as he did regularly for the Mets in the 1980s.

And now that Hernandez has to throw again, he's a tad worried. So he and his wife, Kai, are playing catch outside their home in nearby Jupiter as the former Gold Glove first baseman prepares for his next assignment -- throwing out the first ball at the Mets' opening home game on April 9.

"I can't bounce it," Hernandez said on Thursday. "I'll never hear the end of it if I bounce. So Kai and I play 'burn out' [a game he played as a kid in California]. You just throw as hard as you can. It really built up your arm then. I'm not so sure it's a good now. But I'm getting there.

"I've never thrown out the first pitch on Opening Day. It's an honor to be asked, and I don't want to screw it up. My job used to be to scoop balls out of the dirt. Now I'm just trying not to throw it in the dirt."

Hernandez, now one of the color commentators on SNY Mets telecasts, will participate in another similar ceremony before the Mets return to Shea. Part of the Cardinals' pregame celebration on Opening Night, April 1, will be recognizing the 25th anniversary of the 1982 World Series champion team. Hernandez was the first baseman and No. 3 hitter for that team.

"I don't think I have to throw anything that night," he said. "Just as well. I don't know if I can go twice."

A ballot with a beat: The Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" gets at least one vote as the song that should be played at Shea Stadium before David Wright bats.

It is one of the 50 songs fans can vote for, on this Web site in choosing Wright's at-bat music. The two-phase fan vote began Thursday and concludes April 6. The songs listed touch different genres -- from classic rock, to hip hop, to alternative. The first round of voting runs through 5 p.m. ET on March 28. From there, the 20 most popular will go head-to-head starting on April 2.

The ballot does provide a place for a write-in votes.

"Brass Monkey" by the Beastie Boys, "We Right Here" by DMX, and "Bounce to the Ounce" by Zap were played for Wright last year.

Up next: The Mets will send Orlando Hernandez to the mound on Friday, when they host the Cardinals in Port St. Lucie, Fla., at 1:10 p.m. ET.

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.