New York Mets: David Wright
FIRST PITCH: With Atlanta and Anaheim in the rearview mirror, the Mets make their final stop on a three-city road trip -- Phoenix.
Zack Wheeler (0-2, 5.73 ERA) opposes right-hander Josh Collmenter (0-0, 2.25) in Monday’s 9:40 p.m. ET series opener at Chase Field.
The Mets are 3-3 on the trip so far and 5-7 on the season.
“We’ve kind of given a couple of games away that we should be winning,” David Wright said after Sunday’s rubber-game loss to the Los Angeles Angels. “It is tough to take positives out of that. At the end of the day we’re putting ourselves in position to win some games and need to take advantage of that. There are some improvements that we can make in a lot of different areas. But the fact that we’re putting ourselves in pretty good position to win games is a good thing this early on.”
Monday’s news reports:
• Bartolo Colon allowed three straight first-inning homers and was charged with a career-high nine earned runs in five innings as the Mets were routed, 14-2, in a rubber game against the Angels on Sunday afternoon. After surrendering five homers in the finale (four by Colon), the Mets now have allowed an MLB-high 21 long balls this season. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Journal, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.
• Wright and Daniel Murphy were ejected in the seventh inning by plate umpire Toby Basner after objecting to the strike zone too strenuously from the dugout. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Terry Collins suggested last year’s workload may be catching up with Scott Rice, who allowed two runs Sunday -- on a bases-loaded walk and wild pitch.
• Chris Young went 5-for-5 with two homers and logged seven innings in center field at Fresno in his first rehab appearance with Triple-A Las Vegas. Young (right quadriceps) is due to join the Mets during the series in Arizona and be activated from the disabled list on Friday in New York when he is eligible.
• Rafael Montero held Fresno hitless until the sixth inning and Las Vegas won, 10-4. Hansel Robles tossed five scoreless innings as Binghamton blanked New Hampshire, 6-0. Domingo Tapia tossed five no-hit innings before reaching his pitch limit and departing and St. Lucie beat Fort Myers, 6-2. Savannah’s bats were quiet against rehabbing Mike Minor, but awoke after the Atlanta Braves left-hander departed en route to a 6-2 win against Rome. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• The Mets made a trade with the Oakland Athletics on Sunday, dealing minor-league catcher Blake Forsythe for future considerations.
• The Mets are offering $3.50 seats to games at Citi Field next weekend against the Braves. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
BIRTHDAYS: Kyle Farnsworth turns 38. ... Left-handed reliever prospect Chase Huchingson is 25.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesDavid Wright exits the visitors' dugout after his seventh-inning ejection -- the fourth heave-ho of his career.
Their displeasure with the strike zone was nonetheless evident during Sunday’s 14-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Wright and Murphy were ejected by Basner in the seventh inning after a called third strike on teammate Travis d’Arnaud.
Seven of the Mets’ 11 strikeouts in the game were looking at third strikes.
“Did you watch our game? Everybody who watched the game knows,” Murphy said about his beef with Basner. “I don’t think I need to say anything else about it. There was a disagreement is the best way to describe it.”
Said Wright: “I’m not even going to get into that. I’m not going to get into any more trouble than I’m already in. There were some disagreements.”
Basner, a 29-year-old Triple-A call-up, had called Murphy out on strikes in the third inning and Wright out on strikes in the sixth inning.
“I think I had voiced my opinion early on a pitch I disagreed with, on a 3-2 call,” Murphy said. “Maybe he had enough. I don’t think there was any certain buzzword we had for him. We disagreed with the call he had on Travis as well.”
Said Wright: “We have each other’s back, that’s for sure. When something happens to one of us, it happens to all of us. It’s important not just being ejected or anything, but just in general, we need to have each other’s back. We do.”
Three of the long balls came consecutively in the first inning, by Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Raul Ibanez.
The last time a Mets pitcher allowed three straight homers? That was Johan Santana in the start after his no-hitter, when the Yankees’ Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones consecutively went deep in the Bronx on June 8, 2012.
Hank Conger capped Sunday’s long-ball barrage with a two-run homer in the fifth. It marked the eighth extra-base hit against Colon, a career high.
Colon had tossed seven scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on Tuesday to begin the trip.
Colon’s nine runs allowed were only one shy of matching his career high -- 10 runs (five earned) on April 26, 2005 as a member of the Angels. That day, the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez homered three times against Colon en route to a 10-RBI game.
The Angels added two runs in the sixth against Scott Rice, who issued a bases-loaded walk and run-scoring wild pitch. John Lannan uncorked a run-scoring wild pitch and surrendered a two-run homer to Ian Stewart in the eighth.
With the five-homer game by the Angels, Mets pitchers have now surrendered an MLB-high 21 homers, in 12 games.
Yer out: David Wright and Daniel Murphy were ejected in the seventh inning by plate umpire Toby Basner for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout. A scout at the game was highly critical of Basner’s strike zone low. It was Wright’s fourth career ejection.
What’s next: The Mets head to Phoenix for the final stop on their three-city trip -- a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Zack Wheeler (0-2, 5.73 ERA) opposes right-hander Josh Collmenter (0-0, 2.25) in Monday’s 9:40 p.m. ET opener.
FIRST PITCH: After splitting a pair of extra-inning games, the Mets wrap up their series with the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday at 3:35 p.m. ET.
Bartolo Colon (1-1, 2.08 ERA) opposes left-hander C.J. Wilson (1-1, 4.61) in the rubber game.
Sunday’s news reports:
• Jose Valverde surrendered a three-run homer to Raul Ibanez with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to suffer a blown save, but the Mets survived for a 7-6, 13-inning win against the Angels on Saturday night. Anthony Recker produced the decisive solo homer against Matt Shoemaker. John Lannan tossed two perfect innings to earn the win. Recker and Omar Quintanilla combined for five RBIs.
Terry Collins indicated afterward that Valverde will remain the closer, although Kyle Farnsworth may be required for that role Sunday.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and at MLB.com.
Read more on Valverde in the Star-Ledger.
Read more on Lannan in Newsday.
• Tim Rohan in the Times discusses Colon’s girth. “He’s a genetic outlier,” strength and conditioning coach Jim Malone tells Rohan.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka carried a no-hit bid into the sixth and Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a solo homer as Las Vegas beat Fresno, 1-0, in 10 innings. Cam Maron had a walk-off RBI single as St. Lucie beat Fort Myers, 5-4, in 10 innings. Colton Plaia delivered a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth and Savannah beat Rome, 4-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Marc Carig in Newsday discusses the slow starts of David Wright and Curtis Granderson.
• Juan Lagares has reduced his swing rate on pitches out of the strike zone from 35.6 percent last year to 31.7 percent this season, writes Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger.
• Matt Ehalt in the Record tackles the unforeseen resurgence of Farnsworth, whose velocity is dramatically up over spring training.
• Bobby Abreu, 40, has an April 30 out in his contract if he is not promoted from Triple-A Vegas by then, Mike Puma reports in the Post. At this point, it is worth noting, adding Abreu to the big-league roster likely would require the demotion (or trade) of Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. Abreu, who had exclusively served as a DH or pinch hitter, started for the first time with the 51s in right field on Saturday. He is 11-for-22 with four walks and five RBIs so far with Vegas.
• A former Mr. Met discusses his time in that role in the Post.
BIRTHDAYS: Ricardo Rincón, whose final MLB pitch came with the Mets, was born on this date in 1970.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets promote Bobby Abreu if it means Ike Davis or Lucas Duda getting demoted?
After that pitch by Gonzalez Germen to Trout, if there's a reason to give Valverde another 2 mins. as #Mets closer I can't think what it is— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) April 13, 2014
Young, who is headed to Triple-A Las Vegas to begin a rehab assignment, will rejoin the Mets late in the next series in Arizona and take batting practice with the club. He then will fly to New York with the team, in advance of being activated when he is eligible next weekend.
Collins will have to figure out at that point how to get enough playing time for four outfielders -- especially given how well Juan Lagares and, at least recently, Eric Young Jr. have performed.
"The hope is you can give them days off and play the other three," Collins said. "How's it going to work? I don't know yet."
Granderson is batting fifth Friday for the first time this season, but Collins said he will be back in the cleanup spot Saturday. Collins insisted the motivation for placing Granderson fifth was to further separate him from No. 2 hitter Daniel Murphy, the other lefty hitter in the lineup, since the Angels only have one lefty in the bullpen.
As for Granderson's slow start (.125, 1 HR, 3 RBIs), Collins said: "A lot of it, I truly believe, is it's a new league. He sees new guys. No matter what you say, that's an adjustment that has to be made sometimes. I'll bet if you went over and talked to Albert [Pujols] about when he first went to the American League, he may say the same thing.
"I think once Curtis settles in, he's going to be fine. I'm not concerned. I thought he's had some pretty good swings lately. He's drawing some bases on balls, which means he's seeing the ball better."
First thing: Collins confirmed that both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will start Saturday, with one serving as the designated hitter, when the Mets face Angels right-hander Jered Weaver.
As for Friday, it's the righties -- Andrew Brown and Josh Satin -- at the DH and first-base spots, respectively, against left-hander Tyler Skaggs. Both are starting for only the second time this season. They entered Friday with a combined 15 plate appearances through nine games.
"They need some at-bats. Both of those guys," Collins said. "I just thought it was an opportunity today to get them both in there and we'll see how the rest of the weekend plays out."
Long night: After a night game Thursday in Atlanta, the Mets flew overnight to LAX and got to their Orange County hotel at 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT.
"A character-testing day," Collins labeled it.
Welcome back: Collins managed the Angels for three seasons in the late 1990s and ultimately resigned amid a clubhouse insurrection. He said very few people remain around the Angels from those days.
Collins did say Angels third-base coach Gary DiSarcina was one of his favorite players to manage. Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Collins were minor-league teammates with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"It was a long time ago," Collins said. "I've said it many times: I'm a completely different guy than I was 15 years ago -- a lot more mellower, but what I feel is I'm a much better communicator than I was back then. If I would have done 15 years ago what I do today, I don't think we would have had some of the problems creep up which did."
What has remained the same?
"I haven't grown a god-damn inch," Collins joked.
For starters: Jonathon Niese likely will be capped at 105 pitches Saturday, in his second start since returning from the disabled list. Niese threw 90 pitches Sunday while limiting the Cincinnati Reds to two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
"He cruised pretty good to 90 the other day," Collins said. "So we can tack on 15, probably no more than 20 after that."
Green day: Ex-Mets outfielder Shawn Green, who lives locally, visited David Wright and the Mets in the visitors' clubhouse pregame.
Side note: Ex-Mets reliever Joe Smith, who signed a three-year, $15.75 million deal with the Angels last offseason as a free agent, said the Mets informally floated a similar figure. But that was before the Mets had signed Granderson, and Sandy Alderson was not yet willing to commit, while the L.A. offer was already out there.
FIRST PITCH: Jenrry Mejia makes his second pitch to entrench himself in the rotation when the Mets have a rubber-game matchup with the Atlanta Braves on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. at Turner Field.
Mejia (1-0, 1.50 ERA) opposes right-hander David Hale (0-0, 0.00) in the series finale.
Thursday’s news reports:
• Freddie Freeman produced a two-run single in the fifth to cap the scoring against Wheeler and now has 37 RBIs in 38 games over the past three seasons against the Mets, making him the new Chipper Jones, ESPN Stats & Info’s Mark Simon writes.
• Terry Collins said Ike Davis will start at first base in Thursday’s series finale over Lucas Duda. So Duda’s audition appears to have run its course. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Juan Lagares crashed into the center-field wall on another highlight-reel catch after afterward suggested his right shoulder was uninjured.
• John Lannan, who continues to struggle, preauthorized a demotion to Triple-A the first 45 days of the season even though his MLB service time offered him protection against getting dispatched to the minors.
• David Wright entered Wednesday fighting the flu and hitless in 12 at-bats, but he participated in early batting practice and then went 2-for-4. Read more in the Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Noah Syndergaard allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings with Triple-A Las Vegas. Princeton product Matt Bowman earned the win in his Double-A debut. St. Lucie snapped a four-game losing skid as well as a 23-inning scoreless drought with a 5-2 win against Jupiter. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal notes the Mets have a difficult early schedule. Writes Diamond:
The Mets' opponents in their first 22 games this season posted a combined winning percentage of .552 in 2013. The stretch includes six games against the National League East champion Atlanta Braves (96-66), four against the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals (97-65) and three against the NL wild card-winning Cincinnati Reds (90-72).
Only this weekend’s road series against the Los Angeles Angels (78-84) seems to offer the Mets some semblance of a break.
Since the league expanded to 30 teams in 1998, only 10 teams have endured a more grueling 22-game gauntlet to open a season than the 2014 Mets, using this measure.
• The Braves accidentally lit an American flag on fire during Tuesday’s Hank Aaron pregame ceremony, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear bridges the gap from Aaron to Bartolo Colon.
BIRTHDAYS: 2012 fourth-round pick Branden Kaupe turns 20. ... Fellow farmhand Edioglis Villasmil is 22.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: What can be done to address the Mets’ hitting woes?
Out of hospital. Thanks again for everyone's prayers and well-wishes. Time to get in rehab mode. Will be back on field in near future!— Frank J. Viola, Jr. (@FrankViola16) April 9, 2014
Jason Heyward went 3-for-3, drove in two runs and scored twice against Wheeler, who departed after five innings, and the Atlanta Braves held on to beat the Mets, 4-3, Wednesday at Turner Field.
Wheeler, who had been 3-0 in his career against the Braves, ultimately was charged with four earned runs on eight hits while striking out six.
The Mets made it interesting in the ninth, scoring three times with two outs on a Juan Lagares two-run single and RBI single by Travis d'Arnaud against Craig Kimbrel. But the Mets left the tying run on third base when Kimbrel struck out Ruben Tejada to end the game.
The Mets finished with six hits and now are hitting an MLB-worst .190 (48-for-252) through eight games this season.
After Santana required only seven pitches to dispose of the Mets in the top of the first, Heyward had an 11-pitch battle to lead off the bottom half against Wheeler. Heyward smoked pitch No. 11, a 96 mph fastball, over the right-field wall for his fourth career leadoff homer.
Heyward also had an RBI single in what became a three-run fifth. Freddie Freeman contributed a two-run single that frame as Atlanta took a 4-0 lead.
Web gems: Lagares produced his latest spectacular fielding play in center field. It came in the first inning, when he crashed into the outfield wall while snaring Freddie Freeman’s line shot. Lagares seemed to injure his right arm on the play, which left a tear in the wall. But Lagares remained in the game with no evident ill effects.
Lagares wasn’t the only player providing fielding highlights at Turner Field. On d’Arnaud’s grounder in the second, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons fired a laser from the outfield grass while on the ground to record the out at first base.
Simmons’ fielding prowess provided a stark contrast to the opposing shortstop Tejada's early issues. Simmons beat out an infield single to shortstop in the first inning. Later that frame, Tejada lost the handle while fielding Chris Johnson’s grounder and had to settle for a fielder’s choice at second rather than a double play.
Off the schneid: Under-the-weather David Wright, who participated in an extra batting-practice session in the early afternoon, snapped an 0-for-13 skid with a fourth-inning single against Santana. Wright finished 2-for-4. He nearly had a three-hit game, but was robbed on the track in right-center by Heyward in the sixth.
What’s next: Jenrry Mejia (1-0, 1.50 ERA) makes his second Mets start as the teams play the rubber game at 7:10 p.m. Thursday. Mejia opposes rookie right-hander David Hale (0-0, 0.00 ERA), a Princeton product.
"I don't know," Wright said. "I'm not a doctor."
Still, he can diagnosis a slump, and did not shy away from acknowledging it Wednesday afternoon.
Wright is hitless in his past 12 at-bats and 2-for-21 with no extra-base hits over his past six games.
"He's such a professional. He's out there every day," Terry Collins said. "But it's tough to battle that when you just don't have that energy level up where you normally have it."
Wright took part in an early batting practice session Wednesday afternoon at Turner Field. He was joined by teammates including Lucas Duda, Travis d'Arnaud and Anthony Recker for the extra session.
"I'm just missing some pitches that I should be hitting," Wright said amid coughs and sniffling. "There are quite a few guys who are feeling a little under the weather. More so, it's just about going out there and producing. ... It's like everybody, when you feel not so good, it sucks. But you've got to get past it. And hopefully I'm on the other side of it."
On his goal for the extra BP, Wright added: "It's just trying to get a little more comfortable. I'm missing some pitches that I should be hitting harder. It's just trying to get a little more comfortable in the box. ... It would be one thing if I wasn't seeing the ball well or was having poor at-bats. I'm getting myself in positive counts. I'm getting myself in favorable counts (2-0, 3-1). I'm just missing some pitches I should be hitting harder. I just need a few of those to fall and then hopefully start rolling from there."
Still, after the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-0, Terry Collins noted the whole lineup needs to start clicking.
The Mets had mustered only two hits through six innings against former teammate Aaron Harang. And several key players have been exceptionally quiet through seven games of the season.
David Wright is hitless in his past 12 at-bats and is hitting .192. Curtis Granderson is hitting .154. Lucas Duda is hitting .167. Eric Young Jr. is at .174. And d’Arnaud is at .105. Daniel Murphy is hitting a modest .250.
The Mets collectively are hitting .192 for the season and have struck out 70 times in 219 at-bats.
“We’ve got to swing the bats better,” Collins said. “That’s no secret. If you ever told me David Wright would be hitting .200 at the beginning of the year, I would have laughed. I’ve never seen him not hit over .300 for at least three-quarters of the season, if not the whole season.
“We’ve got to get it going. We’ve got to get Eric on. Murph’s not swinging like he can. David is not. And I know Grandy’s not.
“I know when those guys get going, this is going to be a different club. And you know they’re going to get going because their baseball cards say so.
“Right now, our pitching has held us in there.”
Meanwhile, d’Arnaud said he did feel relief after singling in the fourth. He also doubled and scored in his next at-bat.
“It felt good to see that first hit go through,” d’Arnaud said. “It was relieving.”
On a night the Braves honored Hank Aaron to mark the 40th anniversary of the home run that passed Babe Ruth, the Mets ultimately spoiled the party with a 4-0 win against the Braves on Tuesday before a sellout crowd of 47,144 at Turner Field.
Colon’s final line: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. He threw 101 pitches (70 strikes).
Tejada nonetheless finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, a walk and two runs scored.
Ex-Met Aaron Harang had limited the Amazin’s to two hits and four walks in six innings while striking out nine. The lone run against him came when Tejada walked to lead off the third and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
The Mets tacked on two runs in the seventh, when they produced four hits in that frame alone against Braves relievers.
Tejada had an RBI single against reliever Gus Schlosser. After Colon’s sac bunt, Luis Avilan entered and surrendered an RBI single to Eric Young Jr. (Young was thrown out attempting to stretch the hit into a double.)
Avilan subsequently departed after injuring himself diving out of the way of a shard on Daniel Murphy’s broken-bat single. The Braves announced Avilan had a left hamstring cramp.
Tejada also had an RBI single in the eighth against ex-Met Pedro Beato.
Snapped: Travis d’Arnaud snapped an 0-for-16 skid to begin the season with a fourth-inning single. The longest drought by a position player to begin a season as a Met remains Phil Linz, who went 0-for-25 to open the 1968 season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
D’Arnaud finished 2-for-4. He doubled in the seventh on a ball that hung up a while in the air, but which dropped in left-center, between Justin Upon and B.J. Upton. He then scored on Tejada’s ensuing single as the Mets took a 2-0 lead.
Duda day: Lucas Duda, his audition having resumed after Ike Davis started Sunday, went 1-for-4. Davis grounded out as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
Slumping: David Wright, batting illness, went 0-for-5 and is hitless in his past 12 at-bats.
Unbeaten: The Mets are now 2-for-2 in challenges this season. Juan Lagares, initially ruled out at first base on a groundball in the eighth, had the call overturned after Terry Collins requested a video review. The review process took three minutes.
Penultimate: Kyle Farnsworth tossed a perfect eighth. Jose Valverde completed the shutout despite allowing the first two batters to reach in the ninth and committing an error that loaded the bases with one out.
What’s next: Native Georgian Zack Wheeler, who spent the past two nights in his own home, opposes right-hander Ervin Santana at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday. Santana, who signed on March 12 for $14.1 million after Atlanta lost Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen to elbow injuries, will make his Braves debut.
ESPN IllustrationThe Braves will honor Hank Aaron on Tuesday night at Turner Field.
FIRST PITCH: After spending a day off in Atlanta, the Mets open their first road trip of the season. The nine-game journey also includes stops in Anaheim and Phoenix.
Bartolo Colon is due to face ex-Met Aaron Harang in Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener at Turner Field. A pregame ceremony will honor 80-year-old Hank Aaron on the 40th anniversary of homer No. 715, which moved him past Babe Ruth as MLB’s all-time home-run leader.
Lucas Duda is due to start at first base, after Ike Davis belted a pinch-hit grand slam Saturday, then started Sunday at the position.
Read the Mets-Braves series preview here.
Also Tuesday, Bobby Parnell is due to undergo Tommy John surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Team doctor David Altchek will perform the procedure.
The timing gives Parnell the best chance to return for the start of next season. There is typically a 10- to 14-month recovery time.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• The Mets are 105-144 at Citi Field and 122-121 on the road since the start of the 2011 season. Is that just luck? Or more media and appearance responsibilities at home hindering performance? Or the dimensions of Citi Field? The exact answer is not clear. But even the meal schedule is under scrutiny by team officials, Jared Diamond reports in the Journal. Writes Diamond:
In the past, the team would provide a light meal and snacks when the players arrived to work, consisting of salad and sandwiches. Then a larger meal, more akin to dinner, was served after batting practice, which ends about two hours before a 7:10 p.m. game.
After consulting the team nutritionist, they reversed the menu this year, with the heavier food coming out before batting practice. Teams eat this way on the road because they hit second, leaving them with little time between batting practice and the game. The Mets also changed the times of certain meetings to better resemble the road routine.
• Colon allowed three runs on nine hits, including two homers, in six innings in his Mets debut Wednesday against the Washington Nationals. Read more on Colon in the Post.
• The Mets have struck out 61 times so far, a franchise record through six games of a season. “We’re going to strike out,” Terry Collins told John Jeansonne in Newsday. “The middle of our lineup, because of the kinds of hitters they are, they’re going to strike out.”
• The Mets are not believed to be active in trying to land a free-agent reliever, even after losing Parnell for the season. Writes Anthony DiComo at MLB.com:
General manager Sandy Alderson continues to monitor the closers on the open market, according to one team executive, but he is not ready to pounce on one just yet -- or, perhaps, ever.
Two factors explain Alderson's hesitancy. First, the Mets are genuinely curious to see what three-time All-Star Jose Valverde can give them in the ninth inning. Considering Valverde’s successful 12-year history of closing games and his early success out of the bullpen this season, there is reason to believe he can be just as effective as Joel Hanrahan, Ryan Madson or any other free agent working his way back from injury.
• Tyler Kepner in the Times scrutinizes Travis d’Arnaud, who has opened the season hitless in 15 at-bats. “He’ll be fine,” David Wright told Kepner. “He can hit. He’s hit at every level. So he’s off to a slow start. He’s caught very well, thrown some runners out, called some good games. We’ve gotten quality starts, and that’s because of Travis. Defensively, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do, and offensively, he’ll come around, because his track record says he’s going to hit.” Read more on d'Arnaud in the Post, Daily News and Record.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed three runs in five innings and Matt den Dekker had a walk-off infield single that plated Cesar Puello as Las Vegas beat Sacramento, 7-6, Monday. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• The Yankees traded Eduardo Nunez to the Minnesota Twins for left-hander Miguel Sulbaran. Mets reportedly were not involved in trade discussions about Nunez.
• From the bloggers … Mark Berman at Blogging Mets thinks the Mets have too many uniforms.
BIRTHDAYS: Timo Perez turns 39. ... The late Gary Carter was born on this date in 1954. ... 2013 12th-round draft pick Jeff McNeil, currently playing with low-A Savannah, is 22.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
FIRST PITCH: The Mets spend a day off in Atlanta before opening a three-game series Tuesday against the Braves at Turner Field.
The three-city trip also takes the Mets to Anaheim and Phoenix.
With the Mets departing New York, Matt Harvey (elbow) and Chris Young (quadriceps) will shift their rehabs to the team’s complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Bartolo Colon starts Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener opposite ex-Met Aaron Harang.
The Braves will have a pregame ceremony to recognize the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron unseating Babe Ruth as MLB’s home-run king.
Monday’s news reports:
• Bobby Parnell has decided to undergo Tommy John surgery now rather than first attempt a rehab program. Team doctor David Altchek is scheduled to replace the partially torn medial collateral ligament in Parnell’s right elbow on Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Jose Valverde is now locked in as the closer. Read more in the Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Jonathon Niese took a scoreless effort into the sixth inning in his return from the disabled list, but the southpaw was charged with the loss as the Cincinnati Reds avoided getting swept with a 2-1 win against the Mets on Sunday at Citi Field. Reds starter Alfredo Simon consecutively struck out Daniel Murphy and David Wright in the third inning to strand two runners in scoring position. Travis d’Arnaud, despite one deep shot to left field, remained hitless this season. He is 0-for-15. The Mets went 2-4 on the homestand. They struck out 61 times, the most in the first six games of a season in franchise history.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Newsday and Times.
• Terry Collins affirmed Lucas Duda will start Tuesday in Atlanta as the team’s commitment to him at first base -- aside from Ike Davis’ start Sunday -- continues.
Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post asserts the Mets ought to make a decision already. Writes Kernan:
That the Mets don’t have a final read on Duda and Davis in Year Four of the Sandy Alderson Regime is hard to comprehend. Davis has more than 1,700 plate appearances in the majors, Duda is closing in on 1,300. Make a decision and if that decision is to go with Duda, trade Davis.
“The Mets are afraid they are going to get burned on a Davis trade," a scout said at the game. “They can’t think like that. They have to have the courage of their convictions and make a trade."
Read more at MLB.com.
• A half-inning after Jeff Walters suffered a blown save, Zach Lutz produced a walk-off RBI double as Las Vegas beat Fresno, 6-5, Sunday. Hansel Robles tossed five scoreless innings in his Double-A debut and Binghamton held on to beat Akron, 5-4. Domingo Tapia’s wild pitch allowed the lone run to score in St. Lucie’s 1-0 loss to Palm Beach. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Jeff Pearlman at Bleacher Report recounts his guilt in the 15 years since the publication of a Sports Illustrated article in which he quoted John Rocker ranting about a variety of topics, including New York’s 7 train.
• Troy Renck in the Denver Post applauds Murphy’s decision to miss two games to be with his wife and newborn child.
• From the bloggers ... With Niese here, Faith and Fear in Flushing notes the gang's all here. Well, for the moment.
BIRTHDAYS: Mets bullpen coach Ricky Bones turns 45 ... Vinny Rottino is 34.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Will Jose Valverde be able to handle the closer’s role?
Bobby será operado de Tommy John ay yay yay! #Mets— Vince NY (@vinzska) April 7, 2014
Duda slugged a pair of two-run homers against Mike Leake and the Mets notched their first win of the season, holding on for a 4-3 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on a rainy Friday night at Citi Field.
Jose Valverde, filling in for injured Bobby Parnell, recorded his first save as a Met and the 287th of his career -- two shy of matching Armando Benitez for 26th all time. Valverde allowed two baserunners but escaped for his first save since June 11, 2013 with Detroit.
Duda finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs and a walk. It marked his fifth career multihomer game. He also scooped two bounced throws from David Wright at first base.
Oh, Jenrry! Jenrry Mejia struck out a career-high eight batters while limiting Cincinnati to one run on four hits and five walks in six innings. He threw 101 pitches, his most since also reaching that total in Triple-A on April 13, 2011.
Mejia did receive a first-inning bailout from left fielder Eric Young Jr., who jumped Endy Chavez-style at the wall to take away a would-be first-inning homer from Brandon Phillips.
For the second straight game, Mejia was drilled with a comebacker. In Phillips’ next at-bat, he smoked a grounder off Mejia’s right ankle in the third. In Montreal last Friday, Mejia had been struck in the right forearm by a line drive, which resulted in inflammation and the need for X-rays, but no fracture.
Oh, pen: The maligned bullpen inherited a 4-1 lead from Mejia with three innings to play and immediately started giving it back.
John Lannan surrendered a two-out, two-run homer to Jay Bruce in the seventh as Cincinnati pulled within a run.
However, Kyle Farnsworth subsequently recorded four outs, topping out at 94 mph, to get the ball to Valverde.
The bullpen has now allowed 14 runs (13 earned) in 12 1/3 innings -- good for a 9.49 ERA.
Murphy’s flaw: Daniel Murphy committed his third error in two games since returning from paternity leave. Murphy could not handle Todd Frazier’s would-be double-play grounder in the sixth, instead resulting in two runners on base and none out with the Mets clinging to a 2-1 lead. Mejia bailed out Murphy, ultimately stranding runners on the corners by striking out Leake.
Silent nights: Travis d’Arnaud and E.Y. Jr. each went 0-for-3. Each is now hitless in 12 at-bats this season.
Met his match: Speedster Billy Hamilton has been caught stealing only twice in his big-league career. Both times have been by the Mets.
Juan Centeno did the honors last season. Friday night, it was Anthony Recker, after Hamilton entered as a pinch-runner with one out in the eighth and the Mets leading by a run.
What’s next: Opening Day starters Dillon Gee (0-0, 5.40 ERA) and Johnny Cueto (0-1, 1.29) face off at 1:10 p.m. Saturday at Citi Field.
Seth Wenig/Associated PressDaniel Murphy commits the first of his two errors Thursday, after returning from paternity leave.
FIRST PITCH: After the Washington Nationals completed a three-game sweep on Thursday at Citi Field, Terry Collins insisted his ballclub is better than it demonstrated in the opening series.
The Mets dropped to 0-3 for the fifth time in franchise history, matching the 1962, 1963, 1964 and 2005 editions.
“We’re a lot better team defensively, we’re a lot better team offensively than we’re seeing right now,” Collins said. “It’s three days. It certainly leaves a sour taste in your mouth when you start out the season like this. But I can tell you a few teams that ended up being pretty good that got off to slow starts.”
The Mets now try to regroup against the Cincinnati Reds, who lost two of three at home to the St. Louis Cardinals to open the season.
Jenrry Mejia, who was named to the rotation over Daisuke Matsuzaka, opposes Mike Leake (17-, 3.37 ERA in 2013) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener at Citi Field.
Friday’s news reports:
• Sources say Collins plans to give Lucas Duda a prolonged look at first base beginning Friday rather than juggle playing time between Duda, Ike Davis and Josh Satin. The Mets are due to face exclusively right-handers over the next two series, negating any thought of using the righty-hitting Satin anyway. “We’ve got to see one of these guys play,” Collins said, without acknowledging which player would get the extensive look. “Then, if he doesn’t get the job done, we’ll shift gears. But we’ve got to give him ample at-bats to have a better idea.” Read more in the Post, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Daniel Murphy committed two errors at second base and felt “sluggish” in the field in his return after missing the season’s first two games on paternity leave. Murphy said he was fully justified in spending time with his wife and newborn son Noah, despite talk-radio criticism of him missing games. Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.
• Bobby Parnell indicated it is “50-50” whether he ends up having Tommy John surgery to address a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow. Regardless, Parnell expects a relatively quick resolution so that he can avoid compromising his 2015 availability if he ultimately needs to undergo the procedure. Read more in the Post and Newsday.
• The Mets lost Thursday’s series finale, 8-2, to Washington. The Nats have won eight straight games against the Mets since last Sept. 1. Zack Wheeler expressed disappointment with allowing three runs in six innings. Of course, the bullpen allowed a one-run game to get out of hand. Overall, the underwhelming relief corps surrendered 12 runs (11 earned) in 9 1/3 innings in the three-game series. The Mets were outscored 22-4 after the first inning in the series.
“It was tough. We certainly didn’t pitch as well as we hoped to, but I thought the three starters (Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and Wheeler) did a nice job, kept us in games,” Collins said. “We’ve got to come out of that bullpen and we’ve got to start throwing some strikes. When we’re successful, it’s because you make the other team swing the bat. Not that they can’t get a hit, but when you’re behind in the count, you’re going to get in trouble in this league.”
Collins added that the Mets lacking players -- Chris Young with the quadriceps injury and Murphy for the first two games for fatherhood duties -- has made things more challenging.
“We actually played very well toward the end of camp,” the manager said. “I think one of the things right now is we continue to be unable to put the team out in the field that we hoped to. … I can assure you we’re better than what we’ve seen the last three days.”
Writes columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News:
It has taken the Mets just one series into the season to be officially declared unwatchable.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Journal, Record, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Read more on Wheeler in the Post.
• Columnist Anthony Rieber in Newsday suggests the Mets’ early season schedule does them no favors. Writes Rieber:
Strength of schedule often is an overlooked component in baseball and the Mets are facing a difficult opening stretch. For a team that needs a fast start, beginning with Washington-Cincinnati-at Atlanta is not helpful. That's two 2013 playoff teams and one that should have been.
The following four series aren't cakewalks, either: at Angels, at Diamondbacks, then home for the Braves and Cardinals. The Mets may be 10 games under .500 soon after Easter Sunday.
• Juan Lagares hit for the “cycle” if you combine his first two games. It took him seven at-bats. That’s the quickest in the majors to start a season since Ian Kinsler took six at-bats with Texas in 2012, according to Matthew Oshinsky in the Journal. Since 1997, only Kinsler has done it quicker than Lagares.
• Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson presented Jeff Wilpon with an award before Thursday’s game recognizing the Mets’ contribution to Hurricane Sandy relief. Johnson also threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
• David Wright (eighth) and Matt Harvey (15th) both checked in on the list of the most popular MLB jerseys sold since the World Series, as computed by sales on MLB’s web site.
• Rafael Montero tossed six scoreless innings and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered while going 4-for-4 in Las Vegas’ season-opening 9-2 win against Fresno. Zach Lutz added a grand slam. Bronx native T.J. Rivera’s tiebreaking grand slam helped lift St. Lucie to a 6-5 win against Palm Beach. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Noah Syndergaard makes his Triple-A debut on Friday night. Paul DePodesta confirmed to Marc Carig in Newsday that all the Vegas starters, including Syndergaard, could skip occasional rotation turns during the Pacific Coast League season and instead pitch an inning out of the bullpen on those days to limit their season innings counts.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear returned to Citi Field Thursday afternoon to find the weather vastly improved from Opening Day but the Mets not getting any better. ... MetsMinors.net chats with Allan Dykstra.
BIRTHDAYS: Eric Valent, who hit for the cycle as a Met on July 29, 2004 at Montreal, turns 37. ... The late Gil Hodges and Jim Fregosi were born on this date.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you support Terry Collins’ decision to give Lucas Duda a prolonged look at first base to sink or swim?
@AdamRubinESPN Can someone recommend that the whole Mets bullpen get a group twitter account so I only have to go to one place to bash them?— Keith Raleigh (@raleigh80) April 3, 2014
1. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
2. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
3. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
4. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
5. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
6. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
7. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
8. Wright, New York Mets
9. Robinson Cano, Yankees/Mariners
10. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
11. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
12. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
13. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
14. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
15. Harvey, New York Mets
16. Prince Fielder, Tigers/Rangers
17. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
18. Koji Uehara, Boston Red Sox
19. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
20. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox/Yankees
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