Mets ace Johan Santana threw in the bullpen Wednesday. Afterward, pitching coach Dan Warthen said they worked on correcting a mechanical flaw that was causing his fastball to cut unintentionally. "Vintage Santana," Warthen reported.

We'll see. That wouldn't necessarily explain the lefthander's loss of velocity in recent outings.

Warthen previously said Santana changed the grip on his fastball because of a blister on his middle finger. The pitcher strenuously denied former pitching coach Rick Peterson's comments on ESPN that he has a sore knee. But while denying any injuries - "There's no excuses," he said - he also acknowledged having a sore back and cracked fingernail.

The only thing that seems certain here is that the Mets desperately need their best starter, who has a 6.50 earned run average in his last six starts, to be a lot closer to the guy who had an 0.78 ERA in his first seven starts. The next test will be tomorrow when the Mets host the Tampa Bay Rays.


Atlanta has struggled lately, and team followers wouldn't be surprised if that didn't mean another roster shake-up.

The name squarely in the center of these rumors continues to be one-time golden boy Jeff Francoeur. Sources confirmed that the Braves offered him to the Marlins for Cody Ross recently, only to be turned down.

"If it's going to happen, it's going to happen," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I can't control that. I don't have a long-term deal here. Even if I'm here next year, that stuff will keep popping up ... I'm not sure if I'm in their plans or not."


Hanley Ramirez, the Marlins' best player, is in the first season of a 6-year contract. But you have to wonder how happy he is in South Florida.

The most recent example came last weekend, when he complained openly that Fish pitchers didn't retaliate after he was hit on the left elbow by a pitch from Toronto's Dirk Hayhurst in the sixth inning Sunday.

"You know, incredible," he said in Spanish to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "There's going to come a point where I'm not going to feel protected. I'm going to be scared to hit a home run, because I know I'm going to get hit."


As if the team with the worst record in baseball didn't have enough problems, 10 of their first 32 home games have been disrupted by weather. "This has been very unusual, according to people in this area," said beleaguered manager Manny Acta. "It's been kind of silly."