New York Mets: David Wright
FIRST PITCH: The New York Mets will try to win a series from the Atlanta Braves for the third time this season when the two teams play Thursday night at Citi Field.
There's a chance David Wright could return to the lineup for the first time since he left Sunday's game in Los Angeles with neck spasms.
The Mets and Braves split a pair of 3-2 games the last two nights. The Mets are 7-4 in one-run games since the All-Star break, after going 13-22 in the first half.
Jonathon Niese (7-9, 3.47), who is 2-5 with a 4.63 ERA since he came off the disabled list in late July, starts for the Mets. Left-hander Mike Minor (5-8, 4.09), who has allowed just two runs in 14 2/3 innings over his last two starts, goes for the Braves.
Thursday's news reports:
-- In a game defined by the two shortstops, Andrelton Simmons was much better than Ruben Tejada, and the Braves were a run better than the Mets. Tejada committed an error that cost Zack Wheeler a run. Simmons made a spectacular play that saved the game in the eighth inning. Read game stories in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
-- It was another hitless night for Curtis Granderson, now hitting .171 with a .246 slugging percentage since the All-Star break. As columnist John Harper points out in the Daily News, Sandy Alderson was a lot more on the money in his assessment of the Mets' young talent than he was in judging last winter's free-agent market.
-- Speaking of which, Chris Young has a job. Cut by the Mets a couple of weeks back, Young has now signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees. Read more in the Post.
-- Reliever Vic Black is still out of action, but feeling better after an MRI exam revealed he has a slightly herniated disk in his neck. Black took that as very good news, and said he hopes to be pitching again soon. Read more in Newsday and the Star Ledger.
BIRTHDAYS: Joel Youngblood turns 63 ... Mike Torrez is 68 ... and Billy Cowan is 76.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU'RE UP: What would you like to see the Mets do at shortstop?
No excuses left for the #Mets. None. Syndergaard belongs in the majors.— Rising Apple (@RisingAppleBlog) August 28, 2014
But manager Terry Collins said there's a real chance that David Wright could be back in the lineup by Thursday.
Wright hasn't played since Sunday, when he was forced out of the game in Los Angeles with neck spasms. He got extensive treatment Tuesday, and by Wednesday he had improved to the point that he took batting practice in the indoor cage and then on the field.
"He told me, 'If it's this good [Thursday], I'll be in there,'" Collins said.
Collins wouldn't say the same about Daniel Murphy, who has missed the last two games with a calf injury.
Meanwhile, Collins suggested that he would again be without both right-hander Vic Black and lefty Josh Edgin in the bullpen. The situation with Black's neck is apparently more serious, with Collins saying that he'll likely miss at least a couple more days.
D'Arnaud at cleanup: Having Murphy and Wright both out of the lineup forces Collins to do some maneuvering, and Wednesday it meant hitting Travis d'Arnaud cleanup for the first time in his career.
"I hope he doesn't get carried away," Collins said. "But to be honest, it's a pat on the back for him, because he's become a huge part of our lineup."
FIRST PITCH: Now that Zack Wheeler can beat anyone, can he beat the Atlanta Braves?
The New York Mets right-hander had three wins over his hometown team last season. He doesn't yet have any this year.
That's not entirely his fault. He pitched well against the Braves each of the last two times out, but got little help from his offense in either game.
Perhaps the somewhat-revived Mets offense -- hey, they scored 11 runs just a few days ago -- can help Wheeler (9-8, 3.48) when he faces the Braves again on Wednesday night at Citi Field.
Then again, he's matched up against right-hander Julio Teheran (12-9, 2.96), who is coming off six scoreless innings against the Cincinnati Reds.
Wheeler gave up four runs to the Oakland Athletics in his last start, but since a June 30 start in Atlanta, he's 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA.
Now, can he beat the Braves?
Wednesday's news reports:
• The Mets beat the Braves Tuesday night, and they did it without David Wright or Daniel Murphy, and with Vic Black and Josh Edgin unavailable. The key guy they did have in the lineup was Juan Lagares, who made another nice catch and also hit another home run. Read game stories in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Wright is out because of muscle spasms in his neck, but he finally admitted Tuesday that his left shoulder is an issue. What he wouldn't admit is that it's been a factor in his lousy play, and what the Mets said they won't do is shut him down because of it. Read more in the Post, Star Ledger and MLB.com.
• Will you see Noah Syndergaard in September? Sandy Alderson suggested Tuesday that a lack of spots on the 40-man roster could keep Syndergaard out of the big leagues this season. But Alderson also suggested that Syndergaard could benefit from a month in the big leagues, so the issue remains undecided. Read more in the Post, Newsday, Record and Star Ledger. Meanwhile, Tim Rohan wonders in the Times if Matt Reynolds can be the next Mets shortstop.
• Tuesday's win gave the Mets a 62-70 record, which means that Alderson's 90-win spring training challenge is technically alive for a few more days. But columnist Joel Sherman in the Post sees a much bigger issue, the question of whether the Mets have fallen into a cycle of 74-77 win seasons that they don't have the ability -- or the strong will -- to break out of.
• It's pretty much accepted now that the best thing that happened to Travis d'Arnaud this season was the Mets' decision to send him to Triple-A Las Vegas, and how he reacted to it. Now, d'Arnaud's father tells columnist Kevin Kernan of the Post pretty much the same thing, and says he told it to Travis at the time.
BIRTHDAYS: Mike Maddux, best known as the brother of Greg but also as a 1993-94 Met, turns 53 . . . Brian McRae is 47.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Wright is hitting .215 with no homers and eight RBIs in 135 second-half at-bats. He is in the midst of a career-high 143 at-bat homerless drought. He nonetheless dismissed any suggestion that his subpar second-half performance is related to the shoulder issue, despite hitting coach Lamar Johnson recently saying about the captain's struggles: "When your shoulder is hurt, it's really tough."
Said Wright: "I would say that everybody has an opinion. Lamar sees me on a daily basis. Is the shoulder 100 percent? No. But that takes rest. And that's what the offseason is for. But is that the reason that I'm struggling the way I'm struggling? No. So I think it's not a reasonable assessment as to why I'm playing poorly. The assessment as to why I'm playing poorly is that I'm not producing the way I'm capable of producing. I don't think it's because of my shoulder."
Johnson had asserted that it's tough to get a swing started when your left shoulder is "in pain a little bit."
Countered Wright: "I just try to see the ball and hit it. I don't dig too far into the analytics of my swing. Murph does. I just try to keep it as simple as possible. I'm not sure what Lamar said, but, again, everybody is entitled to an opinion."
Wright said he has not received another cortisone shot in the shoulder since the one heading into the All-Star break. He insisted the damage is limited to a bruised rotator cuff.
"Nothing has changed," he said.
Sandy Alderson said Wright is not on the DL because the captain said he doesn't need to be there.
"Our decision is predicated essentially on feedback from the patient," Alderson said. "David has said that it's not a factor. Now, should we discount that somewhat? Probably. But at this point he said it's not a factor, so we've accepted that and agreed.
"Could we legitimately put him on the disabled list? Probably. But usually when you put somebody on the disabled list they have to agree with the placement -- not that it's an absolute requirement, or any sort of basic requirement. But that's sort of what happens. At this point, we're not there yet. Now, we'll continue to monitor it and see where it takes us."
As for the neck issue, which forced Wright to depart Sunday's game at Dodger Stadium in the third inning, the captain said: "It's getting better. I was just having some issues turning completely to my left. That would be problematic, since that's the way I have to look at the pitcher. I would have liked to get it going and warmed up and tried to play today, but the doctors want to see me. And they want to continue to do treatment on it and make sure when they do put me out there I won't have to come out of the game early again. ...
"I feel like when my neck is ready to go, then I should be ready to go. Again, hopefully this offseason will be the time to get back to 100 percent. As I've said all along, when I am put in the lineup, I expect to perform at a certain level. When I don't do that, I'm disappointed and I'm upset and frustrated. That's been the case."
Meanwhile, Terry Collins has suggested he may consider moving Wright from the No. 3 hole. Wright said he would have no issue.
"I've hit all over the place -- from my first year seventh, [to] I've hit third, fourth, fifth, sixth," Wright said. "I think I hit second a couple of times. The lineup makes no bit of difference to me."
FIRST PITCH: The Mets will have a chance to play spoiler as the Atlanta Braves visit Citi Field for a three-game series.
Atlanta (68-63) trails the first-place Washington Nationals by 7½ games in the division race, but the Braves are right in the thick of the wild-card hunt.
One aspect to watch Tuesday: Will David Wright and Daniel Murphy return to the lineup? Wright departed Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium in the third inning with muscle spasms in his neck. Murphy departed in the ninth inning with a right-calf issue.
Dillon Gee (4-6, 3.84 ERA) opposes left-hander Alex Wood (9-9, 3.05) in the 7:10 p.m. series opener.
Read the Mets-Braves series preview here.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• With teams apparently leery about taking on Bartolo Colon's $11 million salary for 2015, the veteran righty went unclaimed and cleared waivers Monday. That makes Colon eligible to be traded to any team through the end of the month, although it clearly means the Mets would have to kick in money. It appears more likely the Mets deal Colon in the offseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels would appear potential destinations if a trade did materialize before Sunday’s deadline.
Still, Mike DiGiovanna in the Los Angeles Times writes:
If the Angels absorbed Colon’s $11 million salary for 2015, it would push them right up against the $189 million luxury-tax threshold, which owner Arte Moreno does not want to pass, and leave them virtually no flexibility to pursue a free-agent pitcher next winter. It is still possible for the Angels to trade for Colon, but they would probably want the Mets to assume a chunk of the pitcher’s 2015 salary to do so.
Read more in Newsday and at MLB.com.
• The left shoulder issue that has tormented Wright since before the All-Star break has hindered his production, hitting coach Lamar Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Terry Collins has at least considered moving Wright out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup, Marc Carig writes in Newsday.
"There's not a segment of this team that isn't talked about every day. Not a segment. Who to play, and when to play? Where to hit him? Who should be hitting behind him? Who should be hitting in front of him?" Collins told Carig. "Not a segment."
Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record wonders if Wright will still be productive when the Mets finally become a contender.
Writes Jared Diamond in the Journal:
Over the past month, Wright has been arguably the worst regular offensive player in the major leagues. Among players with at least 100 plate appearances since July 26, he ranks last with a .231 slugging percentage and second-to-last with a .492 on-base-plus-slugging-percentage. He has just one extra-base hit during the month of August and hasn't hit a homer since July 11.
The slump has dropped his on-base percentage to a career-low .324, especially troubling considering that Wright had a combined .307 batting average and .391 OBP in 2012 and 2013. But the year before that, in 2011, Wright injured his back early in season and saw his batting average fall to a career-low .254 after he emerged from the disabled list.
As in 2011, it seems easy to attribute his issues this year to an injury -- in this case his shoulder, which he hurt while sliding headfirst into second base at a muddy Citi Field in June.
• Nolan Arenado beat out Lucas Duda for the NL Player of the Week honor.
Mike Puma in the Post caught up with former hitting coach Dave Hudgens about Duda’s surge, which includes five homers in his past six games.
“There were a lot of times where everybody said he took pitches early, which he did, there is no question,” Hudgens told Puma. “But I think a lot of times he was just late on balls as far as timing went.”
Read more on Duda in the Daily News.
• The Mets may use Rafael Montero as part of a six-man rotation in September. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post reviews external shortstop options for the Mets to pursue during the offseason.
• The Mets are a “very strong possibility” to remain affiliated with Las Vegas through 2016, Sandy Alderson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The door was closed on one attractive alternative when Rochester announced it had renewed its agreement with the Minnesota Twins.
• Dustin Lawley had a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth as Binghamton beat New Britain, 4-1. T.J. Chism surrendered a ninth-inning grand slam and St. Lucie lost to Charlotte, 8-5. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear questions Collins' commitment to winning.
BIRTHDAYS: Ricky Bottalico turns 45. ... Alex Trevino was born on this date in 1957.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Hitting coach Lamar Johnson told SNY's Robert Brender (link): “We're trying to work on a consistent swing. When your shoulder is hurt, it’s really tough. It’s hurt in his left shoulder and that’s where your swing starts, with your left side, your left hand getting to the ball. It's been tough because he’s been trying to play through that. It’s just been a real tough haul because it’s hard to get a consistent swing when you’re in pain a little bit.”
Separately, Wright departed Sunday's game at Dodger Stadium with neck spasms.
Wright had a cortisone shot in the shoulder heading into the All-Star break.
FIRST PITCH: After salvaging their series finale at Dodger Stadium to go 2-3 on a trip to Oakland and Los Angeles, the Mets have a day of rest Monday. It looks like they need it.
David Wright departed Sunday’s game in the third inning with muscle spasms on the right side of his neck, which apparently began bothering him earlier in the weekend. Daniel Murphy then departed in the ninth inning with right-calf soreness.
Wright is in the midst of a career-high 143 at-bat homerless drought. His previous career high came earlier this season (136 at-bats).
The Mets resume play Tuesday at Citi Field against the Braves. Dillon Gee (4-6, 3.84 ERA) opposes left-hander Alex Wood (9-9, 3.05) in the 7:10 p.m. series opener.
Monday’s news reports:
• Lucas Duda produced a pair of home runs and a career-high five RBIs as the Mets beat the Dodgers, 11-3, on Sunday. Duda now has five homers in his past six games, making him a strong candidate for NL Player of the Week. His 26 homers for the season rank him third in the National League, trailing only Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton (32) and Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo (29).
In the sixth inning, the Mets turned their first triple play since May 19, 2010 in Washington. With Yasiel Puig on second base and Adrian Gonzalez on first base and no one out, Matt Kemp hit into what appeared poised to be a double play. However, Puig decided to ignore a stop sign from his third base coach and head home. He was comfortably beaten by Duda’s throw on what became a 5-4-3-2 triple play. It was the 11th triple play turned in Mets history.
Ruben Tejada, starting at shortstop over Wilmer Flores, contributed a two-run homer to snap his long-ball drought at 163 at-bats.
Making his first start since returning from bereavement leave, Bartolo Colon (12-10) limited the Dodgers to two runs on five hits and one walk in six innings. Colon now plans to return to the Dominican Republic to be present for his mother’s funeral Thursday. He will rejoin the Mets in time for his scheduled start Saturday against the Phillies in Queens.
That is, Colon will face Philadelphia provided he is not traded first. He reportedly was placed on revocable waivers over the weekend.
If Sunday's game happened to be Colon’s last start -- and it probably was not -- his last pitch as a Met coaxed the triple play. ESPN’s Mark Simon notes that would be reminiscent of Joe Pignatano, who hit into a triple play in his last career at-bat, back in 1962 with the Mets.
The Angels and Dodgers make sense for Colon as in-season landing spots, one MLB executive suggested. Tigers VP Scott Reid also watched Colon pitch Sunday, but he was at Dodger Stadium all week and an insider does not believe Detroit would be interested in Colon because of the salary attached.
Meanwhile, the Mets snapped a six-game Dodger Stadium losing streak. It was their longest skid at the stadium since also losing six straight in 1980 and ’81.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Times, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Read more on Wright in the Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.
• Read more on Duda in Newsday.
• Long Island native Steven Matz tossed five scoreless innings as Binghamton beat Akron, 5-2. Kevin McGowan took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and St. Lucie held on for a 3-2 win against Jupiter. Persio Reyes tossed seven scoreless innings in Kingsport’s 9-1 win against Johnson City. Michael Conforto drove in three runs for Brooklyn in a 10-1 win against Tri-City. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear explores the concept of fun where the Mets are concerned. ... Blogging Mets suspects the Mets are gearing up to trade Noah Syndergaard.
BIRTHDAYS: Pedro Feliciano turns 38. ... Choo-Choo Coleman was born on this date in 1937. ... Gary Matthews Jr. is 40. ... Neal Musser is 34.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
As it turns out, there was a gradual neck discomfort that started bothering Wright on Saturday.
Wright scored on Lucas Duda's home run after his single in the third inning, but he did not come out for the bottom half of the inning. Eric Campbell replaced Wright at third base.
“It’s bothered me for a couple days and got progressively worse and worse and got to a point where I couldn’t go out there and do the simple things,” Wright said. “That’s when the decision was made to get me out of there, especially with the off day [Monday].”
Wright doesn’t expect to miss Tuesday’s series opener at Citi Field against Atlanta.
Wright has been in an offensive slump lately, but Collins has opted not to give Wright a day to rest. Sunday was an especially good day to keep him in there considering he entered the game hitting .765 (13-for-17) against Dodgers starter Kevin Correia.
Kathy Willens/Associated PressIs this Bartolo Colon's final start as a Met? Perhaps, although an offseason trade appears more likely.
FIRST PITCH: Bartolo Colon returns from bereavement leave Sunday to make what could be his final start as a Met.
Colon reportedly has been placed on revocable waivers by the club. If he is claimed, the Mets can:
• Pull him back, which means they cannot trade him this month.
• Work out a trade with the claiming team during a 48-hour window.
• Dump Colon’s contract on the claiming team, which would be forced to accept it.
If Colon clears waivers, the Mets can trade him to any team during the remainder of August.
Colon has $12.8 million remaining on his contract, including the final 36 days of this season.
After the start in the 4:10 p.m. ET game Sunday at Dodger Stadium, Colon is scheduled to return to the Dominican Republic for the funeral for his mother, who died Monday at age 63 after a battle with breast cancer.
Colon (11-10, 3.85 ERA) opposes right-hander Kevin Correia (7-13, 4.87 ERA) as the Mets attempt to avoid getting swept.
The Mets have lost six straight games at Dodger Stadium, their longest losing streak at Chavez Ravine since also losing that many consecutively from Sept. 1, 1980 to May 17, 1981.
The franchise record is 11 straight losses at Dodger Stadium, from July 23, 1966 through Sept. 28, 1967.
Sunday’s news reports:
• David Wright's struggles were in the spotlight as the Dodgers intentionally walked Daniel Murphy to face the captain with first base open and the Mets trailing by a run in the seventh inning Saturday. Wright struck out against Zack Greinke as part of an 0-for-5 night that included twice grounding into double plays and twice striking out. He is hitting .211 with no homers and eight RBIs in 133 at-bats since the All-Star break.
Juan Lagares' three-run homer against Greinke had staked the Mets to a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Lagares’ first long ball since May 17 snapped his homerless drought at 227 at-bats.
Jacob deGrom fired fastballs at 96-97 mph in his return from the disabled list, but surrendered a three-run homer in the fifth to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers rallied to take a 5-3 lead. Gonzalez finished with five RBIs, the most by an opponent against the Mets this season.
“I felt good,” deGrom told reporters postgame. “It’s just a lot of outings come down to a few pitches, and tonight I didn’t make the big pitches when I needed to.”
The Mets (60-70) are now 10 games under .500 for the first time since July 6, when they were 39-49. Three more losses will clinch a non-90-win season. The Amazin’s need to go 21-11 the rest of the way to avoid the franchise’s sixth straight losing season, which would match the Astros for the longest active streak in the majors.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Times and at MLB.com.
• It is looking increasingly likely that Noah Syndergaard will not pitch in the majors in 2014. Syndergaard has a 4.85 ERA in 24 starts for playoff-bound Las Vegas. More importantly, he has logged 124 1/3 innings -- that’s already seven more innings than last season. So Syndergaard has roughly no more than 23 innings remaining. Syndergaard next pitches Wednesday. He then is lined up for the regular-season finale, although he instead could open the playoffs two days later. After that, he might be down to single-digits in innings remaining, which would be consumed if the 51s advance beyond the postseason’s first round.
The one interesting decision to watch is middle infielder Matt Reynolds, who is hitting .343 with five homers, 31 RBIs and a .401 on-base percentage in 60 PCL games. Reynolds, a second-round pick in 2012 out of the University of Arkansas, does not need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason. Still, production is production.
Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.
• Joel Sherman in the Post analyzes how the Mets will approach Murphy's future with the club. Murphy’s salary likely will exceed $8 million next season after a final winter of arbitration eligibility. He is due for free agency after the 2015 season. Writes Sherman:
So do they trade him? Play out the 2015 season with him? Or do they sign him to, say, a four-year, $40 million-ish deal to make him part of the firmament moving forward?
The sense I get is the Mets once again will make him available this offseason and once again ask for a significant return. They see a weak free-agent market for hitters. So, in supply and demand, the Mets think they have what is in short supply, so they will make a big demand.
• Read more on Colon on waivers in Newsday.
• Cory Vaughn delivered a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth as Las Vegas beat New Orleans, 10-8. Hansel Robles, Dario Alvarez and Cody Satterwhite combined for four no-hit relief innings as Binghamton beat Akron, 5-1. Corey Oswalt contributed six scoreless innings, but Brooklyn lost to Tri-City, 5-0. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Curtis Granderson is excited by the Jackie Robinson West Little League team from Chicago winning the U.S. championship in Williamsport, Pa., Kristie Ackert writes in the Daily News. The boys will have workouts going forward at the stadium named after Granderson at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
• Stephen Haynes in Newsday profiles Cyclones left-hander Brad Wieck, the organization’s seventh-round pick in June out of Oklahoma City University.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets executive Tony Bernazard turns 58. ... Bartolome Fortunato is 40.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you think David Wright’s rut is shoulder-injury-related? Or is his career possibly in its initial descent?
Going to sleep now #Mets and you are leading the Dodgers 3-2, please let me wake up in the morning to see that you have won!— Michelle Hall (@kaddle) August 24, 2014
He's supposed to be the hitter opposing teams avoid, not one they invite. Wright is supposed to be walked. He isn’t supposed to stand on deck and watch the other manager decide to walk the guy at the plate.
The outcome of that at-bat was a turning point and helped the Dodgers to a 7-4 victory Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. Wright left six men on base.
“When you go up there and you have a chance to impact the game in a positive way and you don’t get it done, it’s tough,” Wright said. “As I’ve said before, it’s a grind. The good at-bats I have I hit balls right at people, and the bad at-bats, they are there right now, too.
“I have to find a way to get it done. No sense in hanging your head.”
Injuries have played a role in this down year, and a nagging shoulder isn’t helping matters, but Wright won’t use it as an excuse.
“If I’m in the lineup I expect to perform at a certain level,” Wright said.
Wright is now 2-for-his-last-29 and his 100 OPS-plus this season means he is an average baseball player right now.
The intentional walk to Murphy put runners on first and second bases in a one-run game. Greinke was struggling and on the verge of leaving the game after Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went out and had to be convinced to keep him in the game.
Greinke fed Wright four sliders and the at-bat was over. In Wright’s previous at-bat, he hit into a double play with men on the corners. Then, in the ninth, facing Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, Wright had no chance. He struck out on three fastballs to end the game.
“This is no fun. I’m not having any fun. The team isn’t having any fun,” Wright said. “I want to get back to consistently feeling comfortable and feeling dangerous at the plate. Right now that’s not there.
“The other team can probably see that I don’t feel very good at the plate.”
Mets manager Terry Collins was asked if giving Wright a day off Sunday followed by a team off day Monday would help, but Collins said he doesn’t treat Wright like he would another struggling player because of Wright’s track record for producing.
“In my time here, I’ve never seen him scuffle like he has this year,” Collins said. “He’s not hurt, he’s healthy. I don’t have an answer for why he’s going through what he’s going through.
“I don’t think the stars need days off. I think the stars realize they have to figure it out on the field and gotta get it done. He is the leader on this team. We need him out there.”
Matt Marton/USA TODAY SportsJacob deGrom returns Saturday night at Dodger Stadium after a DL stint for rotator-cuff tendinitis.
FIRST PITCH: Jacob deGrom's NL Rookie of the Year bid, sidetracked by his DL stint, resumes Saturday as the Mets continue their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
DeGrom, who missed two starts with rotator-cuff tendinitis, has been activated and will face Zack Greinke and his balky elbow in the 9:10 p.m. ET game.
The Mets demoted Rafael Montero to Las Vegas after Friday’s game to clear the roster spot for deGrom. Montero made his first major league relief appearance in the series opener at Dodger Stadium. He surrendered a walk and run-scoring double to A.J. Ellis while recording one out.
Saturday’s news reports:
• Wilmer Flores committed two errors in a 6-2 loss to the Dodgers on Friday. Flores’ latter error, which came on a two-out throw to first base on Adrian Gonzalez''s grounder in the seventh, led to three unearned runs scoring and a 5-1 deficit. Flores earlier had suffered a cut to the back of his throwing hand getting spiked by Scott Van Slyke, but Terry Collins said the issue was not serious and X-rays were negative. The Mets originally were charged with four errors, but a scoring change spared David Wright an E-5.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Mets farmhand Manuel Hilario lost consciousness and suffered a seizure as the result of getting kneed in the head while sliding into second base while playing for the Gulf Coast League Mets on Friday. Hilario was transported by helicopter to a hospital. The Mets reported later in the day that Hilario was in good spirits and may be discharged Saturday. The game against the Nationals in Viera, Fla., was suspended in the fourth inning after the serious injury.
"The coaches were out there and they were yelling to call 9-1-1," Nats pitcher Matt DeRosier told MiLB.com. "They said he pretty much had a concussion, but it was such a bad concussion that it made him have a seizure. I think he may have lost feelings in his legs -- it was really scary.
"It was a nice, aggressive slide. He hit the ground really quickly, his helmet flew off, it was pretty instant. His head hit the ground, and after his head hit the ground, he was out. He wasn't moving at all. He locked up and started seizing for about 20 seconds. Everybody was around him, and one of our coaches went to the fire station -- he drove a golf cart and got the situation under control. [Hilario] was out for 10 minutes, just unconscious."
• The Mets plan to work out Cubans Roberto Carlos, a 28-year-old shortstop, and Pavel Quesada, a 25-year-old third baseman, on Wednesday at their complex in the Dominican Republic, Mike Puma reports in the Post.
• Bartolo Colon rejoined the Mets and was activated from bereavement leave before Friday’s game. Gonzalez Germen was demoted to Vegas to open the roster spot. Colon, whose mother passed away Monday, is due to pitch Sunday against the Dodgers. He is expected to return to the Dominican Republic after that start for his mother’s funeral.
Writes Bill Shakin in the Los Angeles Times:
The Mets could let Colon go on waivers, sticking the Angels with the entire $12.5 million bill. Of course, since every other team knows the Angels need a starter, all it would take is one team to claim him and block the Angels from getting him. The Oakland Athletics probably would want to keep Colon out of Anaheim -- and, by having the best record in the American League, the Angels get last priority in claiming National League players.
However, if the Mets or any other team decided to engage in discussions about trading a pitcher, the Angels' perilously thin farm system could become an issue. The Angels traded five of their better prospects -- from a system already ranked as the worst in baseball -- to acquire relievers Huston Street and Joe Thatcher.
• Phil Mushnick in the Post labels current spot starter Steve Gelbs the “heir apparent” to Kevin Burkhardt as Mets field reporter on SNY. Writes Mushnick:
Steve Gelbs, heir apparent to Fox-bound Kevin Burkhardt as SNY’s Mets games rover, has been both relaxed and useful. From Oakland, he reported that because the stadium doubles as the Raiders’ field, the pitching mound sits on a large, haul-away pallet. Neat.
• The Las Vegas 51s announced their in-house awards for the season. Matt den Dekker was named the “Mayor’s Trophy” winner in a vote by fans. Andrew Brown was named Most Valuable Player. Logan Verrett was named Most Valuable Pitcher. Brandon Allen received the Community Service Award.
• Noah Syndergaard was charged with six runs (five earned) in six innings and Matt Reynolds went 4-for-4 with a walk for Las Vegas 8-7, 11-inning win against New Orleans. Danny Muno had a walk-off RBI single. Dilson Herrera drove in four runs and Jayce Boyd had a three-run homer as Binghamton beat Akron, 12-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Binghamton, which clinched a playoff berth on its off-day Thursday, did the traditional clubhouse celebration after winning Friday’s game. Watch a short video clip captured by Herrera here.
• Marc Carig in Newsday looks into who closes in 2015 -- Jenrry Mejia or Bobby Parnell.
"When Bobby Parnell comes back, he will be pitching during his rehab as if he's the closer, because that's … certainly in our plan when he gets back,” Collins said. “… There's nothing etched in stone because certainly somebody can stand up and show up and say 'OK, I'm going to take that job.’ And when Bobby's ready, we've got a nice problem on our hands. But looking that far ahead, we certainly can't have any idea who is the guy pitching in the ninth."
• The Mets are plus-147 in getting the benefit of strike calls this season, fifth-best in the majors, because of their catchers’ ability to frame pitches, Jeff Sullivan writes at Foxsports.com.
• So Chris Rock is a Mets fan, right? After all, he leads that “Let’s Go Mets!” chant at Citi Field and once professed as much to David Letterman. Well, Rock was shown catching a foul ball and admirably giving it to a young fan at Yankee Stadium this week. And he was wearing a Yankees cap at the time. Watch the video evidence at Mets Police.
• Everett Merrill at Baseball America chronicles Brooklyn’s positive attendance track record.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal looks at innings caps.
BIRTHDAYS: Julio Franco turns 56. ... Ed Hearn is 54. ... Prentice Redman is 35. ... Pat Strange is 34. ... Raul Casanova is 42.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
FIRST PITCH: The Mets take a day off in California on Thursday, then get to work against the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.
The Amazin’s get a reprieve of sorts, too.
Clayton Kershaw, originally due to start Friday’s series opener against the Mets, instead faces the San Diego Padres on normal rest on Thursday. So the Mets draw Dan Haren in the series opener, followed now by Zack Greinke on Saturday and Kevin Correia on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Mets will activate a pair of starting pitchers for the series.
After Jonathon Niese starts the series opener, Jacob deGrom is due to be activated from the disabled list to pitch Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Bartolo Colon will be activated from bereavement leave for Sunday’s series finale. Colon then plans to return to the Dominican Republic for the funeral of his mother, who died Monday at age 63 after battling breast cancer.
The Mets ultimately will need to make as many as three roster moves -- for deGrom, Colon and, presumably, for Daisuke Matsuzaka early next homestand.
Matsuzaka, currently on the DL with right elbow inflammation, is due to make his third minor-league rehab start Thursday. He pitches for the Brooklyn Cyclones at 7 p.m. against the Staten Island Yankees at Coney Island.
The Mets have a number of potential maneuvers to clear as many as three spots. Gonzalez Germen, promoted when Colon went on bereavement leave, could return to Las Vegas. So could Rafael Montero, who otherwise would be working out of the bullpen with deGrom reentering the rotation. Perhaps the Mets also could find a DL candidate among some banged-up players.
Jenrry Mejia, who has a hernia and cranky calf, was unavailable Wednesday in Oakland because of tightness in his lower back on the right side, which is a recurring issue. Dana Eveland required a cortisone shot in his left elbow. And Kirk Nieuwenhuis was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup with neck discomfort.
Thursday’s news reports:
• Sandy Alderson joined Seth Everett on WOR, reminiscing about his days in Oakland and also commenting about the state of the Mets. (Listen here.)
On the team’s offensive funk (Wednesday notwithstanding), the GM said: “It’s been pretty much across the board, starting with the top of our lineup all the way through. When you only get three or four hits a night, there’s a collective issue. We’ve got some young players in the lineup who we’ve got to give some time, but I think it’s been a collective thing. I do believe that offensively we will get better. The question is how much better.”
Addressing David Wright's subpar production, Alderson added: “First of all, no player is ever going to be at the top of his game consistently throughout a season, or over ‘X’ number of seasons. And part of dealing with the adversity is how it’s handled. David handles it very well. We certainly recognize this is a collective thing.”
On the evaluation process for Matt den Dekker and Wilmer Flores, Alderson said: “The one thing that we have to do is be patient and not reach those judgments prematurely.”
And on how Terry Collins will be judged, Alderson said: “It’s more than wins and losses. It’s how the team approaches each game and how it conducts itself over the course of an entire season. All those things are important.”
• Eric Campbell and Lucas Duda homered in a five-run second inning against Jeff Samardzija and the Mets survived a pair of errors by Daniel Murphy en route to an 8-5 win against Oakland on Wednesday.
Zack Wheeler (9-8) allowed four runs (two earned). He was pulled after 5 2/3 innings and 103 pitches as the Mets kept him on a tight pitch limit after he threw 120 his previous outing. Wheeler improved to 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his past 10 starts and climbed above .500 for the first time this season.
With Mejia unavailable, Jeurys Familia produced a five-out save. Familia inherited the bases loaded in the eighth from Vic Black and walked in a run, but otherwise kept the A’s in check.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Read more on Colon’s temporary return for Sunday’s start in the Daily News and Newsday.
• Read more on Eveland’s “tennis elbow” and cortisone injection in the Star-Ledger.
• Matt Bowman allowed one run in seven innings but suffered a hard-luck loss as New Orleans beat Las Vegas, 4-0. Behind three RBIs from Dustin Lawley, Binghamton trimmed its magic number to clinch an Eastern League playoff berth to one with an 8-5 win at Erie. Read the full minor-league recap here.
BIRTHDAYS: Felix Millan turns 71 today. ... John Stearns is 63.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: How should the Mets clear spots for deGrom, Colon and Matsuzaka?
@AdamRubinESPN mejia has no upside playing hurt - get surgery— shizzambangle (@shizzambangle) August 20, 2014
FIRST PITCH: Their anemic hitting already has reached historic levels. And things get no easier for the Mets as they shift coasts to California.
The Mets are due to face All-Stars Scott Kazmir on Tuesday and Jeff Samardzija on Wednesday in Oakland. After a day off, the Amazin’s then draw expected NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw to open a weekend series at Dodger Stadium, followed by Dan Haren and Kevin Correia.
“We know going into Oakland and L.A., obviously we’re going to face good pitching,” David Wright said.
The Mets have now failed to exceed four hits in any of their past five games -- a franchise record. The last major league team to have a streak that long was the 2002 Mets.
If that streak continues against Kazmir and the A’s on Tuesday, the Mets will become the first MLB team since 1900 to have a single-season streak of six games producing four hits or fewer in each, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Also on the negative front: Despite splitting a four-game wraparound series with the Chicago Cubs, the Mets produced a total of 16 hits. That’s the fewest hits by a team in a four-game series in MLB since May 2-5, 2008, when the Chicago White Sox also mustered 16 hits against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“There’s no easy answers,” Terry Collins said. “It’s not the workload. These guys are working. As a matter of fact, at this time of year maybe they’re swinging too much.”
Dillon Gee (4-5, 3.69 ERA) opposes Kazmir (13-5, 2.78) at 10:05 p.m. ET.
Collins implied that Daniel Murphy is due for a day off in Oakland. That would seem more likely to occur against the southpaw Kazmir. Murphy is 3-for-6 with a homer in his career against Samardzija, the ex-Cub.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• Bartolo Colon was scratched from Monday’s scheduled start against the Cubs and traveled to the Dominican Republic, where his mother died at age 63 after battling breast cancer. Gonzalez Germen will join the Mets on the West Coast while Colon is placed on bereavement leave, which may last three to seven days. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Wright took batting practice in a cage early Monday and convinced Collins to place him in the lineup. Wright, after missing one game with a bruised left shoulder, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his return. Postgame, Wright denied the shoulder issue that initially arose on a headfirst slide on June 12 was hindering his substandard production. Read more in the Times, Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• Carlos Torres tossed five scoreless innings as an emergency fill-in for Colon. However, once he departed, Dana Eveland surrendered an RBI single to Luis Valbuena in the sixth as Chicago evened the score. Anthony Rizzo had a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth against Buddy Carlyle and Javier Baez had a two-run shot against Jenrry Mejia in the ninth and the Cubs ultimately beat the Mets, 4-1, Monday at Citi Field.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will not activated from the disabled list with Colon going on bereavement leave, instead will make his third rehab start on Thursday. Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch for the Brooklyn Cyclones at MCU Park against the Staten Island Yankees.
• The Cyclones host the New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Tuesday. Brooklyn’s representatives include left-hander Shane Bay, right-handers Marcos Molina and Corey Oswalt, shortstop Amed Rosario, third baseman Jhoan Urena and outfielder Michael Bernal.
• Bobby Abreu went 1-for-4 with a walk and RBI in his return to Triple-A, but John Lannan was roughed up and Las Vegas lost at Omaha, 9-5. Travis Taijeron had four hits and five RBIs and Binghamton sliced its magic number to claim a playoff spot to three with an 11-4 win against Erie. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• A bone-marrow donor and recipient met for the first time at Citi Field, Kathryn Cusma and David K. Li write in the Post.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear offers a public service announcement of sorts.
BIRTHDAYS: Pitcher-turned-broadcaster Ron Darling turns 54. ... Ex-Mets left-hander Chris Capuano is 36. ... Among Mets minor leaguers, Flabio Ortega is 24 and Ismael Tijerina is 25.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets exceed four hits on Tuesday?
@AdamRubinESPN At least the Mets are good at being 1st in something!!!— linda wolf@MetsMom31 (@lindawolf12) August 18, 2014
“If I’m in the lineup I expect to produce to a certain standard,” Wright said Monday, after going 0-for-4 in his return after missing Sunday’s game. “When I don’t produce to that standard, it’s frustrating.”
Wright initially injured the shoulder on June 12 while sliding headfirst on a muddy surface at Citi Field. He exacerbated it in Pittsburgh at the end of that month, missed a week, then had a cortisone shot heading into the All-Star break.
Wright then was struck in the troublesome spot with an 88 mph fastball from Cubs starter Dan Straily in the sixth inning on Saturday. He missed the following day’s game, but took batting practice Monday morning and talked his way into the lineup for the matinee.
“The way that I’ve progressed, I feel good,” Wright said. “I wanted to come to the ballpark today with the mindset of trying to give it a shot. Everything worked out pretty well. I got the treatment, tested it and felt good.”
Said managerTerry Collins: "I had a real long talk with him this morning to make sure he understands the importance that we can't aggravate it. It's a bruise. It's not anything that's structural, or where it was before. It's just a bruise. He said he's fine to swing. He said, 'If I injure it, I'll tell you.'"
Wright is hitting .224 (26-for-116) with only two extra-base hits -- both doubles -- in 30 starts since the All-Star break.
“The shoulder is not an excuse,” Wright insisted. “Again, when I go tell the manager that I’m good to play, I expect to produce. I’m not thinking about the shoulder. I’m not thinking about bad habits. I’m thinking about going out there and trying to excel and doing what I’m capable of doing, that I’ve proven I can do. When I don’t do that, I’m as frustrated as anybody.
“I hold myself to a very high standard. I feel like I’ve set a high standard for myself. When I don’t reach that standard, obviously I’m disappointed. There’s no sense in whining and moaning about it now. I’ve got however many weeks to get it going a little bit and hopefully finish strong and let that carry over into the offseason.”
Postgame Monday, one reporter bluntly told Wright that some people hope he is concealing the severity of his injury, because the alternative is that the 31-year-old’s skills are beginning to diminish.
Wright did acknowledge that his rehab has involved strengthening muscles around the area that troubles him -- or that doesn’t really affect him, as he also maintains.
Wright added that a lack of success has led him to tinker too much this season.
“I think that you don’t get the results that you want, all of a sudden you start messing with some things,” Wright said. “It becomes that grind and that search that you always hear people talk about.”
He dismissed any suggestion the shoulder is adversity he is trying to overcome.
“When I think of adversity, I don’t think of playing baseball,” he said. “I think of adversity in real life. Not getting some hits, to me, is not adversity. You go up there and expect to succeed. And when you don’t succeed the way you’re accustomed to or expect to, there’s disappointment in that. As far as trying to make this overcoming obstacles or things like that, I don’t look at it like that.”
After being limited to four hits by Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks and two relievers, the Mets (59-67) became the first major league team in a decade to produce four hits or fewer in five straight games.
The last team to do it?
The 2004 Mets.
The Mets’ current streak of hitting futility actually matches the franchise record. In addition to ’04, the 1963 Mets also went five straight games with four hits or fewer.
The Mets produced only 16 hits yet split this four-game series against the Cubs (54-70).
Buddy Carlyle surrendered a tie-breaking homer to Anthony Rizzo to open the eighth inning. It snapped the journeyman right-hander’s scoreless streak at 13 innings, the longest by a Mets reliever this season.
Who needs rest? Subbing for Bartolo Colon, who flew to the Dominican Republic to be with his gravely ill mother, Carlos Torres tossed five scoreless innings in his first start since last Sept. 27.
Torres became the fourth pitcher in franchise history to make a start on no days of rest. He joined Dan Wheeler (2004), Kevin Kobel (1979) and Craig Anderson (1962).
In an 86-pitch effort, Torres limited the Cubs to three hits and two walks while striking out six. He faced a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth, but fanned Welington Castillo to escape.
Torres suffered a no-decision when Dana Eveland allowed a leadoff double to Rizzo and a one-out RBI single to Luis Valbuena in the sixth inning that evened the score at 1.
On the leaderboard: Lucas Duda's solo homer in the fourth inning against Hendricks opened the scoring. Duda upped his career high to 22 homers. He ranks fifth in the National League, trailing Giancarlo Stanton (32), Rizzo (28), Marlon Byrd (23) and Justin Upton (23).
Shouldering the load: After getting struck in his balky left shoulder Saturday and departing after six innings, then missing Sunday’s game, David Wright returned to the lineup. The captain went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Black Monday: Vic Black stranded two runners in the eighth inning. He has now prevented 21 straight inherited runners from scoring. That’s the longest streak by a Mets reliever this season.
Passing fancy: Travis d'Arnaud had his 12th passed ball, matching the Rockies' Wilin Rosario for the most in the majors.
Pitching in: Jonathon Niese pinch-hit for Torres with two outs and none on in the bottom of the fifth and grounded out. Niese became the first Mets pitcher to appear as a pinch-hitter since Jacob deGrom on May 30 in Philadelphia. deGrom struck out in the 14th inning in that game.
What’s next: The Mets fly to Oakland for a two-game series, and the challenge for their hitters does not get any easier. Dillon Gee (4-5, 3.69 ERA) opposes old friend Scott Kazmir (13-5, 2.78) at 10:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Jeff Samardzija starts for the A's on Wednesday.
Kazmir got roughed up at Citi Field on June 24, allowing a season-high seven runs in three innings, including homers to Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and d’Arnaud. Manager Terry Collins implied Daniel Murphy will be given the day off Tuesday. Murphy snapped an 0-for-12 drought with a leadoff double in the ninth. He went 5-for-28 on the homestand.