Warthen 'skeptical' of 200 IP for Harvey

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
5:12
PM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In the press conference at the start of camp, Sandy Alderson indicated it might be possible for Matt Harvey to exceed 200 innings this season, but only if the postseason were included in that count.

Along similar lines, pitching coach Dan Warthen told Newsday on Monday that he is "very skeptical" Harvey will be allowed to reach that 200-inning threshold. Instead, Warthen reportedly indicated between 180 and 190 innings is more appropriate.

"I would be very skeptical of 200 innings," Warthen told the newspaper. "I don't think we're going to reach that number, but it would be very close. That's at the high, high end."

Terry Collins has mentioned the Mets may pattern Harvey's return after Adam Wainwright's first season back from the same elbow procedure. Wainwright threw 198 2/3 regular-season innings in 2012, in his first year back.

Zack Wheeler not a fan of shifts

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
4:53
PM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Sandy Alderson mentioned over the weekend at the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference that one of his pitchers became so upset by hits through shifts that the Mets curtailed using those with him on the mound.

On Monday, Zack Wheeler acknowledged to NJ.com that he dislikes shifts behind him.

"I don't want to piss anybody off but, honestly, I don't like it," he said. "Teams are starting to be more analytical these days. ... I don't like analytics all that much, but I'm not the boss here. I really can't control it. They know where I stand on that."
video

Adam Rubin provides the details on Matt Harvey's batting practice session at Mets camp on March 2.

Monday notes: Warthen praises deGrom

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
4:04
PM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Reporters surrounded pitching coach Dan Warthen on Monday to get reaction to Matt Harvey's latest throwing session,
but Warthen was equally excited about other pitchers' activity throwing batting practice.

Warthen said Jacob deGrom, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, threw 85 percent of his pitches for strikes during his session, with none over the middle of the plate.

• Versatile Eric Campbell won't play catcher much during this portion of camp, to try to keep his legs fresh for the season. But Terry Collins will get Campbell continued work at unfamiliar positions. Collins said he will give Campbell limited exposure to second base and shortstop in exhibition games just so Campbell has some experience there in case of an in-season emergency.

Daniel Murphy prefers to work on hitting on the side rather than play in Tuesday's noon intrasquad game, but David Wright, Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson all will play. That quartet won't see action in Grapefruit League play until Friday, when Harvey faces the Detroit Tigers in the exhibition home opener.

Juan Lagares also will be held out of Tuesday's intrasquad game. He is due to make the trip to Disney and will lead off against Wandy Rodriguez and the Braves in the Grapefruit League opener.

• Ron Darling will make his play-by-play debut Saturday on WPIX. Gary Cohen will handle the Friday and Sunday games. Cliff Floyd will join Cohen on Sunday as the analyst.

Harvey, Price set to match up Friday

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
2:32
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- David Wright reacted with humor when reporters circled his locker Monday for the second time in four days, again trying to get reaction from the captain to facing Matt Harvey in a batting-practice session.

“Who?” Wright playfully said. “So we’re going to do this after every live BP, huh? Can we start games already?

Turning slightly more serious, Wright added: “He looked good. He looked just as good as last time.”


Adam RubinMatt Harvey throws batting practice Monday at Mets camp.


Harvey threw 26 pitches in one simulated inning while facing Curtis Granderson and Wright on Monday -- with the batters swinging at limited pitches and making little contact. It marked Harvey’s final tune-up for Friday’s Grapefruit League start against the Detroit Tigers. That will be a big milestone, since it will be Harvey’s first time in a game since Aug. 24, 2013 -- two months before undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said the target for Harvey is 35 pitches on Friday, ideally over two innings. The Mets will not let Harvey throw more than 40 pitches.

“I don’t want to go out there and overwork or get too excited about one or two innings or however many pitches we’re going to throw,” Harvey said. “I’ve been through spring training before. I realize there’s a lot of work to be done. There’s still a lot of steps to be taken to be game-ready.”

Harvey will oppose Detroit Tigers ace David Price in the Mets’ spring-training home opener. The two have known each other for years, since Harvey was pitching at the University of North Carolina and Price was a Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer assigned to Triple-A Durham in 2008 and ’09.

“I appreciate his support and excitement to have me back out there,” said Harvey, who has been exchanging text messages with Price. “It’s much-appreciated that people are recognizing that I’m coming back.”

Harvey downplayed the significance of Monday’s batting-practice event, but noted it does mean that “we’re close.”

Said Harvey: “Once the hitters start swinging, that’s kind of a sign games are near and the season is coming closer. For us it’s exciting. Especially being 18 months from a competitive game, it’s a good feeling.”

Hitters were complimentary of how Harvey looked.

“The big thing is he went to both sides of the plate really consistently and accurately and effectively,” Granderson said. “If he did miss, it was a miss that he wanted to make -- not toward the middle of the plate.”

During his major league career, Harvey has thrown his curveball 12.4 percent of the time. It was a pitch he used more frequently while at UNC to complement his fastball. Harvey has found it very sharp of late, especially during Monday’s session when he was using it to get batters to chase down in the zone while simulating two-strike counts.

“I don’t know if I figured out something in my mechanics or it just magically appeared, but it’s nice having that and it felt good out there,” Harvey said.

Warthen confirmed Harvey is not a consideration for Opening Day because there are pitchers who accomplished a lot last season who are more deserving. Still, Warthen added, Harvey looks ready to compete.

“I thought that he was ready to pitch at the end of last year,” the pitching coach said. “And I think Matt thought he was ready. I think we made the right decision. It would have done us no good. But he was ready to pitch then, has stayed ready all winter long, and came out throwing.”

Studying the leadoff hitters: NL

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
1:34
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On Friday, we looked at the state of leadoff hitters in the American League. Now let's move to the National League. Last season, the average OBP for leadoff hitters was .326, a tick above the overall MLB average for non-pitchers of .318. Still, only two teams -- St. Louis and Houston -- received an OBP over .350 from their table setters. In other words, we're not exactly in the glory days of leadoff hitters.

NL EAST

Atlanta Braves
2014 totals: .314 OBP (24th in majors), 86 runs (24th)

Jason Heyward was fine in this role in 2014, but after Fredi Gonzalez moved him down in the order in mid-June, Melvin Upton Jr. and Emilio Bonifacio were terrible at the top of the lineup. Heyward eventually went back to the leadoff spot. Of course, he's gone this year, so now what? Maybe Nick Markakis, who hit leadoff with the Orioles but doesn't steal bases and took the extra base just 18 percent of the time compared to the MLB average of 40 percent (that's all baserunners, not just leadoff hitters). Rookie second baseman Jose Peraza -- who had 60 steals in the minors -- could slot here if he makes the jump from Double-A.

Miami Marlins
2014 totals: .346 OBP (fourth), 104 runs (ninth)

Christian Yelich started 139 games here and provided very good production. So of course, the Marlins went out and acquired a worse leadoff hitter in Dee Gordon, who is one of the fastest players in the majors but posted a mediocre .326 OBP (and just .300 in the second half) in 2014. If Gordon can learn to draw a few more walks and get his OBP back into the .340 to .350 range, he'll be an asset here, with Yelich likely moving to the No. 2 hole.

New York Mets
2014 totals: .308 OBP (26th), 92 runs (19th)

Eric Young Jr. and Curtis Granderson got the most time here -- with 53 and 52 games, respectively -- but combined for a sub-.300 OBP. The Mets don't have a good solution but may go with Juan Lagares against left-handers and Daniel Murphy or Granderson against right-handers.

Philadelphia Phillies
2014 totals: .335 OBP (10th), 91 runs (20th)

Ben Revere drew 13 walks in 626 plate appearances -- not exactly the kind of eye you want from your leadoff hitter -- but he did hit .306 and was an efficient 49-for-57 stealing bases. He had a .332 OBP while batting leadoff, which was still above the MLB average, so he's not terrible as long as he keeps that batting average over .300 and steals bases as effectively as he did last year.

Washington Nationals
2014 totals: .347 OBP (third), 101 runs (12th)

Denard Span will be back after a solid 2014 in which he posted a .355 OBP overall, hit 39 doubles and stole 31 bases in 38 attempts. That was his highest OBP since 2009, however, so I would expect a little regression. The guys behind him didn't do a particularly good job of driving him in either, even though Span's rate of taking the extra base was 52 percent.

NL CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs
2014 totals: .303 OBP (27th), 85 runs (25th)

The leadoff spot was a big problem a year ago, but new center fielder Dexter Fowler and his career .366 OBP should help plug this hole. Fowler left the Rockies and still put up a .375 OBP with the Astros (he split his time hitting first, second, third and cleanup), but if he's the regular leadoff guy the Cubs will improve on that 85 runs scored ... and Anthony Rizzo will drive in a lot more runs.

Cincinnati Reds
2014 totals: .298 OBP (28th), 90 runs (22nd)

Billy Hamilton didn't do a good job of getting on base -- and also led the majors by getting caught stealing 23 times -- giving the Reds subpar production despite his blazing speed. He'll get another chance in 2015, but he's clearly more Vince Coleman than Tim Raines.

Milwaukee Brewers
2014 totals: .339 OBP (sixth), 115 runs (second)

This production wasn't all Carlos Gomez's, but he did bat here for 106 games and hit 20 home runs, helping the Brewers to an MLB-leading 26 homers from their leadoff hitters. Ron Roenicke tried some other guys at the top of the lineup around midseason before putting Gomez back there. Scooter Gennett or Jean Segura could conceivably get an opportunity here, but there's nothing wrong with power in the leadoff spot, especially since the Brewers still have some pop coming up behind Gomez in Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Khris Davis.

Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 totals: .332 OBP (12th), 110 runs (fourth)

Josh Harrison eventually took over this spot last season and will presumably return this year. We'll see if he can come close to repeating his .315/.347/.490 batting line. Starling Marte is another possibility, although Clint Hurdle seemed to like him lower in the order.

St. Louis Cardinals
2014 totals: .369 OBP (first), 102 runs (11th)

Matt Carpenter is your unconventional leadoff hitter because of his lack of speed, but he has scored the most runs in the majors the past two seasons. The Cardinals struggled to get good production from a variety of No. 2 hitters in 2014, however, so it's possible Mike Matheny will move Carpenter there and try Kolten Wong or Jon Jay (.372 OBP in 2014) in the leadoff spot. Wong has the best speed but had just a .292 OBP as a rookie, so I'd hit him lower in the lineup to start the season and make him earn his way up to one of the first two spots.

NL WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 totals: .331 OBP (13th), 99 runs (13th)

Ender Inciarte got the most time here -- 76 games -- and posted a .725 OPS when hitting leadoff, much higher than his overall OPS of .677. He's probably a bench player in 2015, so maybe A.J. Pollock (.352 OBP) will slide in here. I certainly wouldn't recommend Chris Owings and his .300 OBP.

Colorado Rockies
2014 totals: .325 OBP (19th), 93 runs (18th)

Charlie Blackmon hit here for 137 games last season and posted a .291/.335/.446 line while batting leadoff. He struggled mightily on the road, however, and didn't hit lefties that well. Drew Stubbs has his flaws, but he can still pound left-handers, so if they end up platooning in center, it makes sense to platoon them in the leadoff spot as well.

Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 totals: .333 OBP (11th), 109 runs (fifth)

Minus Gordon, the Dodgers lack an obvious candidate. Jimmy Rollins spent most of his career with the Phillies as a leadoff hitter, of course, but he's had an OBP above .325 only once since 2008. Don Mattingly has said he's not committed yet to using Rollins at the top of the order. Carl Crawford has never liked hitting leadoff, although he did it regularly in 2013. Howie Kendrick is coming off a .347 OBP with the Angels, matching his career high as he saw his walk rate spike, but he's never been a leadoff hitter. Yasiel Puig is another option, considering his .382 OBP from 2014. Of course, Puig is also the team's best No. 2 hitter, best No. 3 hitter and best No. 4 hitter. Mattingly will probably want to split his lefty-righty hitters, so I could see something like Kendrick, Crawford, Puig and Adrian Gonzalez in the first four spots, or maybe Crawford-Puig-Gonzalez-Kendrick. No reason to hit Rollins up there when he's not one of your best hitters.

San Diego Padres
2014 totals: .292 OBP (29th), 71 runs (29th)

They were terrible here in 2014 and didn't find a solution in the offseason, so Bud Black would be wise to think outside the box rather than do something dumb like use Alexi Amarista (career OBP of .279) just because he runs well. I'd suggest Wil Myers or Jedd Gyorko (who had a .347 OBP in the second half last year as he walked more and struck out less).

San Francisco Giants
2014 totals: .314 OBP (23rd), 96 runs (16th)

If Angel Pagan's back holds up, he's the guy. I actually liked the 30-game experiment Bruce Bochy had with Hunter Pence hitting leadoff, but he'll be back in the middle of the order. I'd be more worried about Joe Panik hitting second, wasting an important lineup spot with a guy who has no power and a mediocre-at-best OBP.

What2Watch4 in 2015: Travis d'Arnaud

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
11:00
AM ET
Travis d'Arnaud had good plate coverage in the latter part of 2014.
We'll run through most of the Mets' roster for 2015 with a look at the key stats to know heading into this season.

2014 Recap
D'Arnaud's 2014 got off to a horrendous start. He hit .180 in his first 39 games and was sent to Triple-A. A brief stint there turned his season around. When d'Arnaud returned, he was a much more aggressive hitter and was able to get to pitches with which he was previously struggling.

D'Arnaud hit .272 with 10 home runs in 69 games after returning to the Mets, though his season was cut short by an elbow injury for which he had surgery to remove bone spurs.

He is healthy this spring and the expectations are high for 2015.

D'Arnaud's D
The Mets will be looking for better things from d'Arnaud on the defensive end. He ranked among the worst catchers in the majors both in blocking pitches in the dirt and throwing out potential basestealers. He finished last in the majors with -15 Defensive Runs Saved.

Again, the elbow could have been a factor.

"My arm feels looser. I have more range of motion in my elbow," d'Arnaud said. "I don't want to make excuses. I still should have made clean throws. You never know, though. It could have cut range of motion, so I couldn't extend all the way."

Extra benefit: Good framing
D'Arnaud is well-liked by the pitching staff because of his pitch-framing abilities, particularly when it comes to handling pitches at the bottom of and just below the strike zone.

That said, Mets pitchers had a 3.68 ERA with d'Arnaud behind the plate and a 3.10 ERA with Anthony Recker.

What2Watch4 in 2015
Can d'Arnaud put together consistency over a full season?

Projection systems are optimistic. Both ZiPS and Steamer forecast d'Arnaud to hit in the .250s with about 18 home runs. Bill James' system is extremely optimistic: a 277/.337/.468 slashline with 19 home runs in 451 at-bats.

Mets set pitchers for Tuesday intrasquad

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
8:15
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Here's the pitching list for Tuesday's noon intrasquad game:

Team Blue
Jonathon Niese
Rafael Montero
Sean Gilmartin
Carlos Torres
Vic Black

Team Orange
Zack Wheeler
Jenrry Mejia
Buddy Carlyle
Jeurys Familia
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: Three days after the last event, it’s another mini-Matt Harvey Day on Monday. Harvey is expected to face teammates in a batting-practice-type setting late in the morning. It will be Harvey’s final tune-up for Friday’s Grapefruit League start against the Detroit Tigers at Tradition Field. And this time the teammates are planning to swing, unlike Friday’s initial batting-practice session.

Monday marks the final game-free day for a while at camp. The Mets will play an intrasquad game Tuesday. Wednesday is the Grapefruit League opener against the Atlanta Braves at ESPN Wide World of Sports, with Dillon Gee making the start opposite Wandy Rodriguez.

Monday’s news reports:

• Terry Collins indicated that he would prefer Michael Cuddyer playing left field and Curtis Granderson playing right field. Cuddyer is amendable, even though that would be a new position for him, and even though he is deaf in his left ear.

Writes Marc Carig in Newsday about Granderson as a right fielder in 2014:

According to FanGraphs, Granderson's throwing cost the Mets 7.4 runs, worst among 16 qualifying right fielders.

Collins countered by suggesting that Granderson played the quirky right field at Citi Field well.

Read more in the Post, Daily News, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

Lucas Duda (intercostal strain) should begin swinging a bat this week, at least hitting off a tee. Read more at NJ.com and MLB.com.

• ESPNNewYork.com previously had reported that Bartolo Colon is getting serious consideration for the Opening Day start. Zack Wheeler is an alternative.

Wheeler told Mike Puma in the Post that less predictable pitch selections in the second half of last season -- such as not always throwing a fastball in fastball counts -- led to more success. Read more in the Daily News.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal looks at the Mets’ deficiencies in the leadoff spot. Collins prefers Juan Lagares emerges as the leadoff hitter. Writes Diamond:

Ideally, the Mets would bring in somebody who offers both power and speed -- “the Rickey Hendersons of the world,” as Ricco put it. But those players are remarkably rare, and given the Mets’ payroll constraints, they usually can’t afford to pursue them when they become available. (One such player, Jacoby Ellsbury, signed a seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees before last season.)

“Our actions obviously indicate that it wasn’t as important as some of the other things we look for,” Ricco said. “We value it, but not to the point where we’re willing to make sacrifices in other areas.”

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post is embracing the Mets’ postseason expectations. Columnist Richard Justice at MLB.com addresses that topic, too.

On the Mets’ vociferous expectations about reaching the playoffs, David Wright tells columnist John Harper in the Daily News that you’re damned if you talk about it and damned if you don’t.

“It’s the dumbest thing ever,” Wright told the newspaper. “Somebody asks you if you expect to win this year. What are you supposed to say? It’s not cockiness. There’s a difference between confident and cocky. I haven’t seen anybody being cocky.

“People are saying, ‘You guys are talking a big game.’ We’re not talking a big game. But if you’re asking a group of competitive people who are confident in the guys in here if we’re going to be a good team -- the answer is yes."

• Tim Rohan in the Times looks at the Mets players recording many of the videos in recent days that will be shown on the scoreboard this season.

• Read about SNY’s newest addition, Nelson Figueroa, at NJ.com and at MLB.com.

BIRTHDAYS: Chico Fernandez was born on this date in 1932.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets reach the postseason?

Bowling scrapped, but bonding continues

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1
4:09
PM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Weekly Sunday night bowling during spring training, an annual team-bonding exercise during Terry Collins' managerial tenure, has been scrapped this year. But Mets players still plan to gather together on Sunday nights.

Collins said the team instead will assemble weekly away from the ballpark to talk baseball.

• ESPNNewYork.com previously reported that Bartolo Colon is getting strong consideration for the Opening Day assignment. Collins mentioned Zack Wheeler on Sunday as an alternate candidate.

Juan Lagares' audition as a leadoff hitter will begin with Wednesday's Grapefruit League opener at ESPN Wide World of Sports against the Atlanta Braves. Collins said this weekend that he prefers Lagares leading off, but he needs the center fielder's on-base percentage at least in the .330 to .340 range to make it viable.

David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer and Daniel Murphy will not play during the first two Grapefruit League games -- both on the road. Collins plans their spring-training debuts to come in Friday's Matt Harvey Day game at Tradition Field against the Detroit Tigers, which will be televised by SNY.

• In the wake of issues in the NFL, the Mets will go through domestic-violence training on Monday morning.

Lucas Duda should be swinging shortly

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1
3:30
PM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Lucas Duda, who has refrained from swinging since the start of camp because of a strained intercostal muscle on his left side, should be able to pick up a bat shortly.

Terry Collins said Sunday that Duda should begin hitting off a tee this week. Duda should advance to taking batting practice next week, according to the manager.

Cuddyer: Hearing issue no obstacle to LF

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1
3:26
PM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Michael Cuddyer indicated Sunday that a complete lack of hearing in his left ear will not hinder him while playing left field.

Even though Cuddyer's major league outfield experience is almost exclusively limited to right field, Terry Collins prefers the newcomer manning left this season. That would allow Curtis Granderson to remain the full-time right fielder, where he played in his first season as a Met, and where he apparently is more comfortable.

lastname
Granderson
lastname
Cuddyer
Cuddyer lost hearing in his left ear because of a viral infection at age 11. So it would seem that right field would be more comfortable, since that placement would mean his functioning right ear is better positioned to hear center fielder Juan Lagares calling for fly balls.

But Cuddyer told reporters Sunday that his hearing is "not even the slightest" issue as far as which corner outfield spot he mans.

“I was 11. I had a viral infection. I had a series of headaches for about a week," Cuddyer said. "I went to bed one day and could hear on my right side, couldn’t hear on my left, and it’s been like that ever since.

“The first three or four years, it took a little bit of getting used to, my equilibrium and things like that. But when I got to be about 13, 14 years old, it never was a problem ever again. ... Even going through the draft and stuff, it would be like: 'Do you have hearing problems?' I’d always check no, because it was never a problem."

Collins said he prefers Granderson in right field for a few reasons:

• Granderson is skilled at sliding toward the side wall at Citi Field and making catches that "a lot of guys ... shy away from."

• Granderson is now experienced with Citi Field's quirky nook in right field, whereas Cuddyer -- even with near-exclusive right-field experience -- would have to learn the ballpark's nuances anyway.

• On days when Cuddyer plays first base over Lucas Duda against a left-hander, Granderson then could just stay in right field. If Cuddyer were the right fielder, Granderson would have to slide over from left field on those days.

Granderson does not have a right fielder's arm, but Collins did not express concern.

"I know everybody talks about his arm strength," Collins said. "Let me tell you, I had an old scout tell me years ago: 'You worry about arm strength, you're going to get your butt kicked. You better worry about catching the baseball.'"

Cuddyer has made 854 career starts in right field, four in center and three in left. Granderson has started 1,073 games in center field, 139 in right and 22 in left.

Both have expressed a willingness to play whichever corner outfield spot Collins asks.

For his part, Collins said he'll test out both alignments for the first 10 days or two weeks of Grapefruit League games. If Cuddyer does not show an aptitude for left field, Collins won't force the issue.

"Obviously I don’t have much experience, but at the same time there’s no saying that I can’t come over there and learn," Cuddyer said about left field. "I take a lot of pride in being an athlete, not just a right fielder or a first baseman. It’s being a baseball player. And the definition of being a baseball player is going out and playing baseball where the manager puts you. So it’s fine with me. ...

“You’ve got different angles obviously, not unlike first and third. It’s a different angle. But at the same time, you go in and you shag, you get your work in. I’ve been taking balls off the bat the last week, so as you continue to do that, you continue to get more comfortable. All my [outfield] drills and everything I’ve done so far this year has been in left.”

Reynolds took big step forward in 2014

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1
9:39
AM ET

Adam Rubin/ESPN.comProspect Matt Reynolds fields a grounder at camp in Port St. Lucie.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds had a dramatic rise in his batting average from 2013 to 2014. How dramatic? Try a triple-digit point increase, despite playing at higher levels.

After hitting .226 in 433 at-bats with Class A St. Lucie in 2013, Reynolds raised his average to a combined .343 in 478 at-bats between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas last season. He is expected to open the upcoming season again at Vegas, manning shortstop in a double-play tandem with Dilson Herrera.

"My whole approach was different," Reynolds said, contrasting his first two full professional seasons. "In 2013 I was trying to pull the ball a little bit more and I wasn't trying to be the person that I knew that I was. I was trying to be someone different. In 2014 I just kind of realized my approach is to try to hit the fastball to right-center and adjust to the offspeed. That's pretty much the main difference between 2013 and 2014."

The 24-year-old Reynolds, a second-round pick in 2012 from the University of Arkansas, is similar in profile to Wilmer Flores in one respect. Critics have questioned whether both should remain shortstops.

Reynolds, though, believes he has made great strides at the position after primarily playing third base in college. Playing at Las Vegas, with its baked infield in the desert heat, has helped in preparing him for an eventual big-league call.

"Everyone told me that Las Vegas' infield is going to be the fastest infield that I'll pretty much ever play on," Reynolds said. "I felt like I did a really good job handling it. I actually liked it because it made me get set a little earlier, it made me get ready. It honestly prepared me for the next level, because once you get to the big leagues, the ball is going to get on you a little bit faster. I enjoyed it and I took it as a learning experiment. I loved it."

Reynolds annually has worked on improving his footwork to try to offset any natural speed deficiencies. He reported to Florida right after New Year's and worked with Mike Barwis, focusing on that area. Reynolds suggested the training has helped him not only at shortstop but also as a base stealer. He swiped 20 bases in 27 attempts last season. He also has concentrated on transforming his body from a third baseman's type to a shortstop's type.

"I've tried to slim down a little bit," Reynolds said. "In college I was around 205. Now I'm 200, maybe a little bit below. I just try to get a little bit quicker each year, try to get a little bit faster and gain a step, because I know I'm not the fastest guy on the field. But I need to play like I am, and I need to get the advantages wherever I can and work on my first step and my reads and everything like that. So I would say my body type has changed a little bit."

Morning Briefing: Mets to get into swing

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1
6:28
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: After a rainy day kept the team mostly indoors Saturday, it’s back to business at Mets camp … hopefully. The forecast is for isolated thunderstorms in the area.

Batting practice now gets into full gear, with the hitters swinging away at Mets pitchers. Matt Harvey's next session against Mets hitters comes Monday.

The Mets will have an intrasquad game Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Atlanta Braves at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Dillon Gee starts the exhibition-season kickoff.

Sunday’s news reports:

• Old nemesis Jimmy Rollins told Jerry Crasnick at ESPN.com that the Mets were his No. 2 choice for a trade landing spot behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he ultimately was dealt. Rollins described the Mets’ future as “pretty bright.”


Mitchell Leff/Getty ImagesJimmy Rollins would not have minded being a Met.


Multiple sources had told ESPNNewYork.com that when the Mets inquired with the Philadelphia Phillies about Rollins’ availability in early November, the Phillies told the Mets that Rollins would not come to Queens. So the Mets dropped it. Maybe things would have reheated had the deal with L.A. not materialized in mid-December.

Rollins is eligible for free agency next winter.

• A day after Jose Reyes offered critical comments about Ruben Tejada's work ethic and suggested Tejada wasted an opportunity to hold the Mets’ shortstop position long term, Tejada responded. "I don't really pay attention to too much," Tejada said, according to NJ.com. "If I try to pay attention to everybody, it would make me crazy. I try to do my best and come here every day to work hard."

Terry Collins told Newsday about Reyes’ criticism of Tejada: "I don't think there's anything wrong with one of your peers challenging you once in a while. … Jose Reyes is a guy who gets ready to play. I think the world of Jose Reyes. Apparently, he may know something I don't. … They were good buddies when they were here and I think Jose might know some things that I don't know.''

Read more in the Post, Daily News and at MLB.com.

• New hitting coach Kevin Long dissected Mets hitters during a press conference Saturday. Long likens Juan Lagares' plate-discipline issues to Robinson Cano's troubles earlier in his career, and believes Lagares can similarly thrive at the plate over time, notes columnist John Harper in the Daily News. Long told columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post that Daniel Murphy can win a batting title.

One comical conversation came between Long and batting-challenged Bartolo Colon. Long asked Colon to double his hit total, from two in 2014 to four this upcoming season. Colon’s response: “How about three?”

Read more on Long in the Record, Daily News, Newsday and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

• Collins said he prefers Lagares be the leadoff hitter, if he proves capable during spring training. That would allow fallback option Curtis Granderson potentially to bat second. If that materialized, Murphy could be placed in a run-producing spot in the order such as sixth. Read more in the Post.

• Marc Carig in Newsday visited Chesapeake, Virginia, before spring training and penned a feature on the relationship between area natives David Wright and Michael Cuddyer. Wright is four years younger, but Cuddyer was his role model as a baseball player. In fact, their high school teams shared a field when Wright was young, and Wright would be sure to arrive early for his own practice to observe how Cuddyer prepared with his team, Carig wrote.

• Tim Rohan in the Times looks at Lagares’ glove -- quite literally. Writes Rohan:

The glove he wore last year was the Wilson A2000 1799 SS. A version of it was first designed in the 1990s for Ryan Klesko, a major league outfielder who played for 16 years but did not win a Gold Glove.

“It’s easy to break in,” Lagares said of the glove. “I feel comfortable with it.”

Klesko’s legacy is that glove. It has become one of Wilson’s most popular models. No matter the glove, though, no matter the design or its weight, or color, it is what Lagares does with it that has propelled him to new heights in the game.

• Sandy Alderson was in Boston on Saturday to speak at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Via tweets from the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Alderson reportedly said:

-- One Mets pitcher last year reacted so poorly when he gave up hits because of extreme shifts that the club had to abandon those alignments when he was on the mound.

-- Pitching framing, which Travis d'Arnaud does well to steal extra strikes, may result across baseball in extra passed balls. D’Arnaud had 12 passed balls last season, tied for the most in the majors.

"If a guy is doing his best to frame pitches, there can be a correlation between his framing effort and the number of passed balls that end up occurring," Alderson told the audience, according to Matthew Leach at MLB.com. "So then it becomes another educational process, making sure the pitcher, pitching coach, etc., understand the relative value."

-- The Mets did not pursue 19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, who just signed with the Boston Red Sox for a $31.5 million bonus. The Sox must also pay a matching amount in taxes for exceeding the international spending cap. Still, Alderson said the Mets used Moncada’s availability as an exercise to determine whether it was better to use all of the international money on one teenage prospect or spread it over several players.

From the bloggers … Mets Report commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Mets obtaining Dave Kingman.

BIRTHDAYS: First-round pick Michael Conforto turns 22. ... Ramon Castro is 39.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Would you have welcomed Jimmy Rollins as a Met?
video

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jimmy Rollins spent a lot of years with the Philadelphia Phillies antagonizing New York Mets fans with his swagger and competitive spirit. He was among a select group of opposing players that fans in Flushing Meadows most loved to hate.

But when Rollins assembled his choice of preferred offseason trade destinations, the Mets ranked surprisingly high on his list.

Rollins' 15-year tenure in Philadelphia ended in December when the Phillies traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor-league pitchers. He had to waive his 10-and-5 trade rights to allow the deal to come to fruition.

If it hadn't been the Dodgers, Rollins said Saturday, the Mets were the second most likely alternative.

"This was my No. 1 landing spot," Rollins said from Los Angeles' spring training camp, "and I considered the Mets to be No. 2. They have some arms over there -- oh my gosh.

"I'm not saying I would have gone there. It would have taken a lot. But when I was asked, 'Write down the places you would go if you don't have any (no-trade protection),' I had one team on my list and another where I would go if it didn't work out. Fortunately it worked out here (in Los Angeles). I'm very delighted with that."

Rollins' comments appear to run counter to previous reports that the Mets inquired into his availability over the winter, only to be told he would not waive his no-trade rights to play in New York.


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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
15 4.09 151 202
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187