Adam RubinLucas Duda gets an at-bat during an A-ball game Friday in Port St. Lucie.
Neither player ran after making contact, although Duda (hamstring) went through a running program afterward. Davis (calf) had lightly jogged before the game.
Davis went 1-for-3 with two walks against A-ball pitching. Duda went 0-for-4 with a walk, including one shot caught at the right-field wall.
Both suggested their first time in a game in nearly two weeks -- albeit controlled -- went well.
Davis said his calf, because it had been idle for so long, remains somewhat weak due to "a little bit of atrophy." He plans to wear compression socks on both legs throughout the season to keep them warm.
He joked about his legs atrophying: "I barely had calves to begin with and now they're like bird legs."
Both expected to get more minor-league at-bats Saturday. Davis expected 10 games and 30 at-bats on the major-league side would ready him for the regular season.
"Hopefully it feels better by next week to get into the big-league games," Davis said. "... I actually had a decent day. I kept the ball in the air, which is nice. I didn't roll over anything. But obviously I haven't hit a live ball in about a week or so. I didn't break all my bats and swing and miss every time, so that was nice. I felt good."
Said Duda: "The timing is a little bit off, but it felt good for the most part."
"I have certainly had dialogue with them," Boras told Anthony Rieber in Newsday on Friday. "The message has always been that they have interest in Stephen but they wanted to see how things went in spring training."
Asked if he was talking about the Mets, Boras added to Newsday: "I'm not speaking about anyone specifically. I'm just speaking generally about the reason that these players are coveted, the reason that these players are so valuable, the reason they sign late, is teams get to look in spring training and the obvious weaknesses of clubs is revealed. The fans of the respective teams really get to look inside what can really help their team and the fact that this talent is available. And there are those teams that this talent is available without the detriment of losing a first-round pick. It's rare that you have that opportunity."
Ruben Tejada, ss
Matt den Dekker, rf
Chris Young, cf
Josh Satin, 3b
Matt Clark, 1b
Anthony Recker, c
Taylor Teagarden, dh
Brian Burgamy, lf
Danny Muno, 2b
Zack Wheeler, rhp
Donovan Solano, ss
Rob Brantly, c
Jeff Baker, 1b
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, dh
Casey McGehee, 3b
Marcell Ozuna, lf
Reed Johnson, rf
Brian Bogusevic, cf
Taylor Harbin, 2b
Tom Koehler, rhp
This time, Collins is leaving behind half his players in Florida for split-squad games when the Mets face the Chicago Cubs in Las Vegas on Saturday and Sunday. And the manager laments not being able to fully watch position competitions because he will be in a different time zone from some of his players.
Worse, the initial plan had Ike Davis and Lucas Duda simultaneously playing -- one in Vegas, one in Florida. Now, neither is healthy enough to participate.
The Mets will take a four-and-a-half-hour chartered flight to Vegas that departs Friday at 2 p.m. They will fly back after Sunday’s game and plan to land in Florida about 1 a.m. the following day. Some players will be excused from reporting to the Mets’ complex for Monday’s workout because of the early morning arrival.
Collins, being politically correct, acknowledged the trip does break up the monotony of spring training, while also being less than ideal. The Las Vegas 51s are the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
“We could do it on the other side of the state, for me,” Collins said about having a diversion from strictly facing teams within a two-hour drive of Port St. Lucie. “But I think the world of the people in Vegas.”
Said David Wright: “It’s obviously a long way to go for two games, but they tell me to go, I go.”
The veteran Mets players, who never played in Vegas as minor leaguers, likely will be shocked by the lacking facilities.
“It will get their attention,” Collins said. “It is what it is. The clubhouses are small -- smaller -- which we know. This stadium was built before the onset of strength and conditioning coaches, so the workout room is not very big. …
“It’s Vegas. It’s in the desert, so the ball is going to be flying, especially if the wind is blowing, which it’s going to be blowing. It blows every year in the spring. It could be a wild game.”
On the topic of getting a break from the spring-training monotony, Curtis Granderson proposed swapping facilities with a Cactus League team for a week.
As for the two games in Vegas, Granderson added: “I don’t think it’s a nuisance. I don’t think anybody is sitting here dreading going. I haven’t heard that, or got that sense, from anybody. A lot of guys haven’t been there. A lot of guys haven’t played there, so I think that’s going to be a fun thing for those guys. It’s only two games.
“At the same time, I think longer would probably be a little better -- not necessarily there, but wherever, getting an actual series in or seeing more than one team or something like that.”
Instead, deGrom was removed from the trip and told he was going to Las Vegas ... the Triple-A team.
DeGrom and reliever Jeff Walters were the optioned to the minors Friday morning, reducing the number of players still in camp to 47.
DeGrom should form a stellar Triple-A rotation with Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and quite possibly Jenrry Mejia, plus Logan Verrett and/or Cory Mazzoni.
"For years and years and years, if you were a young pitcher and got the big leagues, you probably went up as a relief pitcher in organizations that are winning, because their rotations are set," Terry Collins said. "Guys all went up as relief pitchers, and then maybe the next year transformed to a starter. I don't know what to expect, because I don't have a crystal ball. We know we've got great arms. And no matter what happens, we have a great security coming -- not just with Walters and deGrom, but with all the kids."
DeGrom, a ninth-round pick out of Stetson in 2010, who mostly played shortstop in college, got a taste of relieving in Thursday's Grapefruit League game. He inherited two runners from Syndergaard in the eighth and served up a game-tying three-run homer to Brock Peterson on his second pitch. He then contributed a scoreless ninth. Overall, he posted a 1.23 ERA in 7 1/3 Grapefruit League innings, while allowing four hits and three walks and striking out seven.
"That was a learning experience," deGrom said about relieving. "I'm glad I got that. ... I think I had done it in college, but I don't remember. That was different. You've got to come in and be ready. I threw that first-pitch slider, and it wasn't a very good one. And then I went fastball and he got it. It's one pitch that I left up, and he took advantage of it."
Still, his spring-training performance was not bad for a pitcher who arrived in minor-league camp a year ago with a broken finger on his glove hand -- the result of getting kicked by a small calf. DeGrom eventually rose all the way from Class A St. Lucie to Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2013 season.
"The things I like: He's a good athlete, with continued room for improvement given his lack of experience coming up as a college shortstop. He has a lean, loose, frame. The stuff is good," one NL scout said. "The thing I don't like: The long arm swing in his delivery lacks deception and allows hitters a good look. I'd like to keep him as a starter for now to develop secondary pitches, but he may eventually wind up in the bullpen."
Meanwhile, Walters -- who set Double-A Binghamton single-season and career saves records last season with 38 -- had a 2.45 ERA in four Grapefruit League relief appearances spanning 3 2/3 innings. He allowed three hits and had one strikeout.
DeGrom said his one disappointment in camp was his control. In-season, deGrom’s fastball typically sits at 91-94 mph. The sinker is complemented by a slider and a changeup.
"My location has been a little off this spring," deGrom said. "Normally I get ahead of hitters. I've been falling behind quite a bit, so I'm going to work on that."
Said Collins: "I told him this morning: There's no question we'll see him sometime."
Ike Davis (calf) also should participate in some fashion, although that likely will not include running after contact.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesThe Mets will play two games against the Chicago Cubs this weekend in Las Vegas.
FIRST PITCH: Half the Mets are jetting out of Florida on Friday.
The Mets play split-squad games Saturday and Sunday against the Chicago Cubs in Las Vegas, with Bartolo Colon and Jenrry Mejia getting the starts. The Mets’ chartered flight leaves midday, and also is due to include Terry Collins, David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud.
Remaining in Florida, Zack Wheeler gets the start at 7:05 p.m. Friday in Jupiter (WOR 710 AM). He opposes Miami Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler, a product of Stony Brook University. Dillon Gee starts Saturday and Jonathon Niese starts Sunday.
Friday’s news reports:
• Collins gave Ruben Tejada a vote of confidence Thursday, telling him: “Listen, you’re the shortstop here.” Still, that is in large part a reflection of the Mets not having any other viable internal starting options. The bottom line: After Tejada committed his third error of spring training and went hitless in three at-bats to drop his Grapefruit League average to .067, the Mets may have to intensify their pursuit of an external option.
Read more on Tejada in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.
• Addressing pitching coach Dan Warthen’s use of an Asian slur and subsequent apology, Daisuke Matsuzaka said through his intrepreter: “I don’t expect our relationship to change going forward.”
Dice-K’s comment came after Matsuzaka had a strong pitching performance against the Washington Nationals and seemed to further solidify his hold on the fifth-starter role.
Jonathon Niese, meanwhile, reportedly lashed out at reporters in clubhouse concerning the Warthen topic, saying: "Stop Tweeting about our clubhouse. That ----'s got to stop,” according to a tweet from Newsday’s Anthony Rieber.
Read more on Warthen’s apology, with Matsuzaka’s reaction, in the Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and Star-Ledger.
• In what may have been his final 2014 Grapefruit League performance before departing for minor-league camp, Noah Syndergaard again impressed. He ultimately was charged with three runs in 3 2/3 innings, after leaving two runners on base and having Jacob deGrom serve up a three-run homer.
Rafael Montero and deGrom were getting relief looks from Collins, who noted that is how those prospects may be introduced to the big leagues at some point this season.
The Mets ultimately beat the Nats, 7-5, at Space Coast Stadium on Thursday thanks to a two-run single in the ninth from Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Nieuwenhuis, who likely is ticketed for the Triple-A outfield with Matt den Dekker, Cesar Puello and very possibly Andrew Brown, is hitting .304 with a homer and seven RBIs through 23 at-bats. Meanwhile, first baseman Brandon Allen departed the game in the ninth inning with a calf injury.
Read recaps of Syndergaard’s performance and the game in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Journal and MLB.com.
• With Darrelle Revis defecting to the New England Patriots, Jonathan Lehman in the Post creates an all-time list of New York athletes who changed allegiances to a bitter rival. Those with Mets ties include Darryl Strawberry and Tom Glavine.
• Read more on the Mets’ trip to Vegas in the Times. Team insiders tell ESPNNewYork.com that a major reason for the team to make the trip is the big-league team will financially profit. The Las Vegas 51s, who host the game, are the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, so there is some goodwill involved, too.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing attempts to deconstruct the tale of Stu Woo and Dan Warthen. … John Delcos at Mets Report says Tejada is likely the Opening Day shortstop because Sandy Alderson will not make a bold move.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever Josh Stinson, now with the Orioles, turns 26. ... Mets farmhand Rainy Lara is 23. Lara had a 3.76 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts) with Class A St. Lucie last season.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Syndergaard, who took over for the fifth inning Thursday against the Washington Nationals, mowed down the first six batters he faced, including four straight via strikeout.
The first run against Syndergaard, while earned, scored in the seventh on an error by Anthony Seratelli at second base.
Syndergaard’s final line in what became a 7-5 win by the Mets: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
His Grapefruit League ERA swelled to 5.19 in three appearances, despite rave reviews from scouts and opponents.
“I’m very pleased with the way I performed today,” Syndergaard said. “I went out there and actually pitched this time. I was able to locate my fastball pretty well, and even my two-seam was the best it’s been all spring. And then I was able to mix in a lot of pretty good changeups as well. And even though I didn’t throw my curveball for strikes that many times, I was able to throw it in key situations that maybe a hitter might be on my fastball pretty well. ... I did a really good job today in controlling the running game."
Said Terry Collins: “He threw some great changeups today, which I was very impressed with. ... He’s got great stuff. He’s a big, strong kid. I salute him.”
Syndergaard is ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas to open the season, and it is entirely conceivable this was his final 2014 Grapefruit League appearance. As starting pitchers go deeper into games to prepare for the regular season, innings are becoming scarcer for prospects -- even top prospects -- not projected to make the big-league club.
“I’m hearing a lot of stuff, but I’m just going out there and I’m going to make the most of the opportunity,” Syndergaard said. “I’m going to go out there and pitch the best I can. I mean, the goal in mind is still to make the team. But I know there’s a bigger picture involved. ... There's a money standpoint to it. And there's also some things I've got to work on to be able to be a consistent big league pitcher.”
Said Collins: “Next week we’ll meet and figure out what the next step is going to be.”
Jacob deGrom had surrendered a game-tying three-run homer to Brock Peterson a half-inning earlier after inheriting two runners from Noah Syndergaard.
Nieuwenhuis had walked with the bases loaded as the Mets produced four eighth-inning runs to take a 5-2 lead.
Ouch: With Ike Davis (calf) and Lucas Duda (hamstring) already sidelined, the Mets suffered another injury to a first baseman. Brandon Allen hobbled off the field after reaching second base in the top of the ninth on Nieuwenhuis’ decisive two-run single.
Allen injured a calf, although Terry Collins did not know the severity.
“He jumped out of the way of the ground ball and his calf grabbed,” Collins said. “We aren’t sure if it’s a cramp or a strain yet.”
What’s next: Vegas! Well, for half of Mets camp anyway.
A Mets contingent, which includes David Wright and Curtis Granderson, will fly Friday afternoon to Nevada in advance of a pair of weekend games against the Chicago Cubs at Cashman Field, home of the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
Meanwhile, those left behind will face the Miami Marlins on Friday in the first night game of spring training. Zack Wheeler opposes Stony Brook University product Tom Koehler in the 7:05 p.m. game in Jupiter (on WOR 710 AM).
Montero inherited two runners with two outs in the fourth from Daisuke Matsuzaka.
DeGrom inherited two runners with two outs in the eighth from Noah Syndergaard.
It is difficult to see the Mets having room to squeeze Montero or deGrom into the Opening Day bullpen. But a bullpen role certainly is conceivable in-season to introduce one or both to the majors, especially if the Mets already will need to clear a rotation spot for Syndergaard at some point this summer.
“If they’re going to pitch out of the bullpen, they’re going to have to get used to coming into a situation with guys on, where they’ve got to get a big out,” Terry Collins said.
Montero and deGrom had disparate success Thursday.
After Ruben Tejada's error prolonged the fourth inning, Montero entered and required only one pitch to dispose of Tyler Moore on a fly out to left field.
DeGrom, meanwhile, served up a three-run homer to Brock Peterson in the eighth that tied the score at 5. Two of the runs were charged to Syndergaard.
DeGrom did contribute a scoreless ninth. He qualified for the win because Kirk Nieuwenhuis delivered a tiebreaking two-run single in the top of the inning.
VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka continued to solidify his standing as the New York Mets' fifth-starter front-runner. He also defended Dan Warthen in limited comments reacting to the pitching coach's use of an Asian slur.
After holding the Washington Nationals to one run on three hits and striking out four in 3 2/3 innings Thursday, Matsuzaka offered support for Warthen.
"Today I was just preparing for my game, so I just spoke to him about today's lineup and what was going on during the game," Matsuzaka said through Jeff Cutler, his interpreter. "... I think everyone makes mistakes, and Dan has already commented on it. I don't want to dig deeper into it or try to add to what it is."
"Same with me," Cutler added, speaking for himself. "Dan has already commented on it. And [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] has talked about it. I don't really have anything else to add to it."
Matsuzaka said his conversation with Warthen on Thursday was limited to baseball.
Warthen publicly apologized Wednesday night for having directed a slur once commonly used to denigrate people of Asian descent at Cutler.
According to an account in The Wall Street Journal, a reporter was speaking with the interpreter in the clubhouse Monday when Warthen approached. During the ensuing conversation, the pitching coach reportedly apologized to Cutler for previously using the word in a joking manner.
But Warthen mentioned the slur while issuing that apology. The reporter, a Chinese American from San Francisco, became offended by Warthen repeating the word.
Asked Thursday if he was comfortable working with Warthen, Matsuzaka said, "I don't expect our relationship to change going forward."
Tejada committed his third error in six Grapefruit League games, falling to handle a routine grounder from Zach Walters that would have ended the fourth inning.
Tejada also went 0-for-3 at the plate, including grounding into a 5-4-3 double play to end the top of the third against Ross Detwiler with two on base. Tejada is now 1-for-15 in Grapefruit League play. He had been sidelined for a week early in camp with a hamstring issue, too.
Said Collins: "I talked to him today about trying to relax a little bit, quit worrying about things. I said, 'Listen, you're the shortstop here. Your name and your number are going to be in the lineup. So you've just got to go be the player we know you can be and quit worrying about trying to impress everybody. We've seen you in the past. Two years ago you were the talk of the town. You had a bad year. Big deal. Forget it. It's over.'"
Despite Sandy Alderson’s play-it-cool statement that Tejada is not under a microscope and insistence there is no “situation,” the pressure has to be mounting for the Mets to find an alternative at shortstop.
The Seattle Mariners have Nick Franklin available, and former Mets GM Joe McIlvaine continues to scout the Mets for that organization. McIlvaine attended the Mets-Nats game Thursday.
Tejada insisted he is not overthinking things with the spotlight focused on him.
“Errors happen. Everybody makes them,” Tejada said. “I have a couple this week. I’ll keep working and keep staying mentally positive and keep playing hard.”
As for the error, Tejada said: “I tried to catch it with two hands. To the glove side, it’s better to play it with one hand, especially with two outs and a man on first. The next one I’ll try to catch it with one hand and make sure of the out at second.”
Tejada said he actually felt “much better” at the plate Thursday.
“I took a couple of pitches and stayed in my zone and didn’t try to do too much,” Tejada said.
Which franchise will be the one to beat in five years? We published our Future Power Rankings today, and while Eric Karabell weren't on the committee for those rankings, we do have something to say about them, including which team should be No. 1, wondering if the Cubs should have been ranked higher than the Red Sox and whether our beloved Phillies and Mariners are properly ranked.
Final St. John's 74 Providence 79 Final Seton Hall 64 3 Villanova 63 Final Rutgers 31 5 Louisville 92 Final Fordham 74 Dayton 87
8:00 PM ET NY Rangers Winnipeg 7:00 PM ET San Jose NY Islanders 7:30 PM ET New Jersey Florida
7:00 PM ET Seton Hall Providence 7:00 PM ET NC State 11 Syracuse
12:00 PM ET Milwaukee New York 7:00 PM ET Brooklyn Washington
7:00 PM ET Buffalo NY Islanders 7:00 PM ET New Jersey Tampa Bay
1:05 PM ET Yankees Orioles 9:05 PM ET Marlins Yankees 1:10 PM ET Twins Mets 4:05 PM ET Mets Cubs