New York Mets: Mike Pelfrey
Courtesy of Dillon GeeOpening Day starter Dillon Gee, pictured with wife Kari Ann and son Hudson, gets his final spring-training tune-up Wednesday night.
FIRST PITCH: Opening Day starter Dillon Gee gets his final spring-training tune-up when the Mets play a 6:05 p.m. game Wednesday against the Houston Astros in Kissimmee. Gee opposes Scott Feldman (WOR 710 AM).
Wednesday’s news reports:
• The Mets handed Daisuke Matsuzaka a $100,000 retention bonus Tuesday, preserving the right to send him to the minors. However, it is not as simple as suggesting Jenrry Mejia has won the fifth starter’s job. The Mets want to preserve the eligibility of Matsuzaka and Mejia to be in the rotation if the elbow issue with Jonathon Niese flares up.
Matsuzaka is the one who can be held off the Opening Day roster and still sub for Niese on April 6 if needed. That’s because Matsuzaka is on a minor-league contract. Once Mejia is optioned to the minors, he would be ineligible to take Niese’s start, because Mejia would by rule need to spend the first 10 days of the regular season with Las Vegas.
Incidentally, relief is off the table for Mejia.
Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Matt Harvey and the Mets have settled on a rehab plan. During the season’s first couple of months, Harvey will rehab in New York when the Mets are at home and work out in Port St. Lucie when the big-league club is away from Citi Field. Once he begins expected mound work in June, the rehab will shift nearly exclusively to the team’s Florida complex.
“Certain situations I feel strongly about and I may approach them a little bit differently,” Harvey told David Lennon in Newsday. “But I’m all about this team. I’m all about the New York Mets and I’m all about winning. I can preach that until I’m blue in the face. …
“We had kind of gone back and forth, but it was never an alarming situation. It wasn’t me trying to get my way the whole time and it wasn’t them trying to get their way the whole time, which was kind of perceived through the media. We worked out a good deal and I think everybody is happy.”
David Wright was among those counseling Harvey on the subject. Writes columnist Joel Sherman in the Post:
Wright told Harvey when he was rehabbing the fractured bone in his lower back and had to be with the team because the rehab doctor was in New York, he made sure he arrived super-early to make sure he did not take away doctor/trainer time from active players. He advised Harvey do the same, and also to mimic what he has done in March -- attend the pitchers’ meetings and be an active cheerleader and information dispenser in the dugout. The message is simple: You have to be a supporting actor at Citi, not a star of the City; a dispenser of high fives, not a staple of Page Six.
“It’s been my philosophy that I am an employee, not the employer,” Wright said. “The advice I gave him was to find common ground with the Mets. To definitely do what is best for him, but also not to lose sight that he is the employee, not the employer.”
Read more on Harvey in the Star-Ledger.
• Zack Wheeler allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings, including a three-run homer to Bryce Harper, as the Mets lost to the Washington Nationals, 7-3, Tuesday in Viera. Wheeler next faces the Nats next Thursday, in Game 3 of the regular season.
• The Associated Press calculates the Mets’ payroll at $89 million, which ranks 22nd in MLB.
• Frank Viola will require open-heart surgery next Wednesday and will be unable to serve as pitching coach at Triple-A Las Vegas. Read more in Newsday and MLB.com.
• The Wilpons’ settlement with the trustee collecting money for victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is down to $80 million, to be paid in equal installments in 2016 and 2017.
• Sandy Alderson expects Ike Davis and Lucas Duda both to be on the Opening Day roster. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• Kyle Farnsworth, who is due to be re-signed by the Mets, rode the bus to Viera on Tuesday with the team despite technically not being a member of the organization.
• Ex-Met Mike Pelfrey was the victim of a practical joke by Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and teammates.
• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post labels the Mets among the NL’s offseason winners, writing:
They finally spent some money, even if it was only to keep the payroll flat, to acquire Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon. Risky outfield acquisition Chris Young has enjoyed a good spring training.
• Luis Rivera is Double-A Binghamton’s new hitting coach. He replaces Luis Natera, who was promoted to assistant hitting coach with the big-league club.
• Granderson reminisces about his first Opening Day at MLB.com.
• Bovada sets the following over-unders for the Mets in 2014:
David Wright -- BA in the 2014 Regular Season
David Wright -- Total HRs in the 2014 Regular Season
David Wright -- Total RBIs in the 2014 Regular Season
Curtis Granderson -- Total HRs in the 2014 Regular Season
Curtis Granderson -- Total RBIs in the 2014 Regular Season
Ike Davis -- BA in the 2014 Regular Season
Daniel Murphy -- BA in the 2014 Regular Season
Daniel Murphy -- Total Stolen Bases in the 2014 Regular Season
Daniel Murphy -- Total RBIs in the 2014 Regular Season
Dillon Gee -- Total Wins in the 2014 Regular Season
Jonathon Niese -- Total Wins in the 2014 Regular Season
Bartolo Colon -- Total Wins in the 2014 Regular Season
• Jonathan Lehman in the Post has a history quiz about Mets Opening Day starting pitchers.
• John Lannan is getting acclimated to a relief role, Mike Vorkunov writes in the Star-Ledger.
• Omar Quintanilla appears likely to beat out Anthony Seratelli for the backup middle-infield job. But Seratelli has hopes of making his MLB debut at age 31, writes Tim Rohan in the Times.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets infielder Jose Vizcaino turns 46.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Where do you stand on the above over-unders?
S/O to our captain David Wright hooking up the minor league side with the Olive Garden spread today for lunch #Mets— Brandon Welch (@B_Welch21) March 25, 2014
So what about a reunion with Mike Pelfrey, who was popular in the Mets clubhouse with teammates during his first stint with the club?
Well, a team official did not rule it out, but offered no indication anything was active on that front now.
"I know he is on a long list of guys just like him," a team insider told ESPNNewYork.com.
Pelfrey was non-tendered by the Mets after earning $5.7 million in 2012.
He went 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts for the Minnesota Twins this past season.
Re-signing Daisuke Matsuzaka would appear another alternative for that role.
Morry Gash/Associated PressKirk Nieuwenhuis reached base six times on Friday night.
FIRST PITCH: Shaun Marcum faces his former employer on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET when the Mets and Milwaukee Brewers continue their series at Miller Park.
Marcum (1-9, 5.03 ERA), who pitched the past two seasons for the Brewers before signing with the Mets as a free agent, opposes right-hander Yovani Gallardo (6-8, 4.78).
Although Marcum experienced tingling in his fingers during his last start and subsequently underwent an MRI on his upper back, Terry Collins said he expected no health impediments to Marcum’s start today.
“Shaun feels great, so I don’t plan on anything happening,” the manager maintained.
Also on tap today: The All-Star teams will be announced at 6:30 p.m. ET. David Wright and Matt Harvey figure to represent the Mets, although the starting pitching assignment is not due to be officially announced by NL manager Bruce Bochy until the day before the July 16 game at Citi Field.
Saturday’s news reports:
Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal and MLB.com.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis became the first Met in 13 years to reach base six times in a nine-inning game without benefting from an error and Zack Wheeler notched his second major league win as the Mets beat the sloppy Brewers, 12-5, at Miller Park.
“Just to come in here and not drag our feet and get some momentum after yesterday, that was big for us," Nieuwenhuis said postgame Friday, referring to a 15-inning loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on Thursday.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times and MLB.com.
• Wheeler next gets to face the Giants -- the organization that traded him to the Mets two years ago. He will oppose Matt Cain on Wednesday at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
As for Friday’s five-inning outing in which he surrendered three runs (one earned) in five innings, Wheeler greatly increased the percentage of fastballs he threw. Wheeler tossed 80 fastballs among his 98 pitches. The heater averaged 95.9 mph and topped out at 97.1 mph.
“I don’t know about command-wise, but I’m feeling more comfortable,” he said. “Command will come once I start settling down a little bit and focus on getting ahead of guys. That’s the biggest thing.”
• A Mets source tells Fox’s Ken Rosenthal the organization would not trade Bobby Parnell unless they are “blown away” by a trade proposal.
• Mike Pelfrey and R.A. Dickey are the opposing pitchers Saturday as the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays play, notes David Waldstein in the Times.
• Michael Salfino in the Journal determined the Mets’ .220 average at Citi Field is the seventh-worst in the majors for a team at home since 1921.
• Jeyckol De Leon’s three-run homer helped lift Kingsport to a 5-3 win against Johnson City. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Gonzalez Germen was demoted before Friday’s game without the rookie making a major league appearance to clear a roster spot for the additions of Davis and Greg Burke. Brandon Lyon had been designated for assignment Thursday.
• Hunter Atkins in the Times reviews the Mets’ 2008 draft class five years later.
• From the bloggers … With Davis’ promotion, the Mets have important decisions to make, writes John Delcos at Mets Report.
BIRTHDAYS: Willie Randolph turns 59. … Lance Johnson is 50.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you feel better about Ike Davis returning after seeing Friday’s results?
WHY THE HELL IS #mets ALWAYS TRENDING— The Half-Minute Man (@thirty_second) July 6, 2013
FIRST PITCH: The Mets’ bats were hot in snowy Minnesota.
The Amazin’s matched a franchise record for runs produced in an interleague game and beat the Twins, 16-5, Friday night at Target Field.
In Game 2 of the series, Matt Harvey (2-0, 0.64 ERA) opposes left-hander Scott Diamond today at 4:10 p.m. ET.
Terry Collins indicated pregame Friday that Justin Turner was likely to DH today. Lucas Duda handled the DH duties Friday.
Saturday’s news reports:
• John Buck, David Wright and Daniel Murphy drove in four runs apiece in Friday’s victory. Buck has homered in four straight games and has 19 RBIs for the season -- more than all of the Marlins combined. Jonathon Niese battled through the elements to pick up the win, although his streak of 22 straight starts having completed six innings ended. Read game recaps in the Times, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Post, Newsday and Record.
• Shaun Marcum is due to pitch two innings in a simulated game today in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Assuming he completes that workload satisfactorily, Marcum should advance to a five-inning game, then be a candidate for activation from the disabled list.
• Hicksville, Long Island’s Cam Maron drove in the tiebreaking run in the 12th as St. Lucie beat Bradenton, 6-5. Cory Vaughn had three hits, three runs scored and four RBIs in Binghamton’s 15-7 win against New Hampshire. Read the full minor league recap here.
• The Mets signed ex-Yankees left-handed reliever Sean Henn to a minor league deal. Henn is currently in extended spring training trying to get ready for a full-season team.
• Jose Reyes suffered a serious left ankle injury and may miss as much as three months with the Toronto Blue Jays.
• Mike Pelfrey has no animosity toward the Mets for non-tendering him in December. Read more in Newsday, the Journal, Post and Star-Ledger.
• Brian Costa in the Journal enlisted the help of Pepperdine business and law students to determine when is the optimal time to negotiate a long-term extension with Harvey. The recommendation: after the 2014 season. For the record, the Mets have not even internally considered approaching Harvey now about a long-term deal, Costa noted. Harvey is not eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season.
• Alex Butler in Newsday profiles Noah Syndergaard, the right-hander the Mets received from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade. "He reminds me of Kerry Wood,'' St. Lucie pitching coach Phil Regan told Butler. "A lot like him, but a better body. He has that tall Texan style.''
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing appreciates a beautiful Murphy-Ruben Tejada double play on a night of wretched weather.
BIRTHDAYS: Lefty reliever Ricardo Rincon, who finished his major league career with the Mets in 2008, turns 43.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Pelfrey, the Mets' first-round pick in 2005, who was non-tendered in December and subsequently signed with the Minnesota Twins, misses the friendships he built over seven-plus years with the organization. He does find it a breath of fresh air, though, to be out of the New York spotlight. He said light-heartedly that he can now even play cards in the clubhouse without creating an uproar.
"New York is all I've ever known," Pelfrey said. "This is completely different over here. I think it's a good different in the sense it's more low key. I don't talk to 30 media guys every day. It's kind of refreshing. I made the comment to somebody that we got to spring training and it might have been 10 days in and nobody had talked to me yet. I said, 'This is kind of nice.' I wasn't really used to that.
"Being from Wichita, Kansas, you had guys who had always written good things about you. So I was a guy that kind of read everything. I guess it kind of hardens you, because sometimes negative things get written [in New York]. It teaches you to stop paying attention to all that stuff. ... If you're going to win, like they say, there's no greater place to win than in New York. But if you're going to fail, there's no worse place to fail. Unfortunately for me I had a little more failure than I would have liked."
Pelfrey is not scheduled to pitch this weekend. He said he had no burning desire to face his former club anyway.
"It would have been cool, and I could talk stuff if things went well," Pelfrey said. "But there's not any hate on my end. It's not like I want to get revenge at those guys or anything like that. I'm a fan of the Mets. I want them to do well. I hope we kick their butt for the next three days, but for their other 159 games I hope they win. I follow them and I root for them. The hardest thing about leaving them, I think, is the relationships that you build with people."
Pelfrey underwent Tommy John surgery last May 1, so he has made a rapid recovery. He pitched into the sixth inning and did not allow an earned run in his Twins debut, against the Detroit Tigers. But Tuesday he was knocked out after two innings against the Kansas City Royals.
The Mets face (l to r) Vance Worley, Scott Diamond and Kevin Correia this weekend -- weather permitting.
Friday: LHP Jonathon Niese (1-0, 2.13) vs. RHP Vance Worley (0-1, 5.73), 8:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: RHP Matt Harvey (2-0, 0.64) vs. LHP Scott Diamond (0-0, -.--), 4:10 p.m. ET
Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (0-2, 7.71) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (0-1, 3.14), 2:10 p.m. ET
Twins short hops
• Left-hander Scott Diamond, a SUNY Binghamton product, is due to be activated from the disabled list for Saturday’s start. He underwent Dec. 18 surgery to remove a bone chip from his left elbow. In a rehab appearance Sunday with Class A Fort Myers, Diamond allowed four runs on six hits in an 82-pitch effort spanning five innings. Among American League rookies in 2012, Diamond ranked fourth in wins (12), second in ERA (3.54) and sixth in innings pitched (173).
• Right-hander Vance Worley was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies with right-hander Trevor May for Ben Revere on Dec. 6, 2012. He is 3-3 with a 5.17 ERA (38.1 IP, 22 ER) in seven previous starts against the Mets.
Mike Pelfrey is not scheduled to face his former team this weekend.
• The customary Twins lineup is:
Joe Mauer, c
Josh Willingham, lf
Justin Morneau, 1b
Ryan Doumit, dh
Trevor Plouffe, 3b
Chris Parmelee, rf
Brian Dozier, 2b
Pedro Florimon, ss
• Mike Pelfrey, who was non-tendered by the Mets in December, signed for a base salary of $4 million with the Twins. He is next due to start Monday, after the Mets leave town. Pelfrey underwent Tommy John surgery last May 1. He was roughed up in Kansas City in his second Twins outing, lasting only two innings. Pelfrey did not allow an earned run in 5 1/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers in his Twins debut five days earlier.
• Twins setup man Jared Burton got to jam on his guitar at the team’s hotel Monday with Eddie Vedder. The Pearl Jam singer is friendly with Twins broadcaster Ron Coomer and watched the NCAA men’s basketball championship game with the team.
• Outfielder Darin Mastroianni has been dealing with a bone bruise on his left ankle, which he suffered in a March 25 Grapefruit League game.
• Roof-less Target Field, which opened in 2010, has never had a snow cancellation. The field is heated, aiding snow melting. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, four games were snowed out while the Twins played for 21 years at outdoor Metropolitan Stadium, before relocating to the Metrodome for the 1982 season.
• Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson have Mets ties. Gardenhire spent his entire five-year major league career with the Mets, hitting .232 in 710 at-bats from 1981 to ’85. Anderson debuted with the Mets in 1986 before being traded the following March to the Royals with Ed Hearn for David Cone.
• The Mets’ lone previous visit to Minnesota came in 2004. The Twins swept the series at the Metrodome. Johan Santana limited the Mets to one run in seven innings in the middle game of that series, topping Steve Trachsel. The 15-inning series finale ended with an RBI single by Mike Ryan against Ricky Bottalico.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets send Jeremy Hefner to the mound on Wednesday night in a rubber game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Hefner opposes right-hander Kyle Kendrick.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• Dillon Gee had his shortest career start and the Phillies beat the Mets, 8-3, Tuesday. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Times, Newsday, Record and MLB.com.
• Zack Wheeler was charged with four runs (one earned) on eight hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings as Las Vegas lost at Fresno, 4-1. Read the full minor league recap here. Read more in Newsday.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News notes the Mets have agent Scott Boras to thank -- yes, thank -- for drafting Matt Harvey. Because of Harvey’s perceived asking price, he slipped to the third round of the draft out of high school and did not sign. Instead, Harvey attended North Carolina and was drafted by the Mets three years later, receiving a $2.52 million signing bonus.
• Ike Davis, who is 4-for-27 on the season and did not play Tuesday against Cliff Lee, is unconcerned. “I have more hits than last year at this time,” Davis told Mike Puma in the Post. Davis suggested he has been unlucky because pitchers have been painting the outer corner of the plate. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Record and MLB.com.
• Collin Cowgill is hitting .130 (3-for-23) on the season despite becoming the first player in Mets history to hit a grand slam in his debut with the team. “It’s definitely frustrating when you’re not having success,” Cowgill told Mark Hale in the Post. “I’m a competitor. I want to get a hit every time I’m in the box.”
• Daniel Murphy, on the other hand, is hitting .333. And Terry Collins suggested the right intercostal strain Murphy suffered during spring training may be a factor -- in a positive sense -- in that it prevented Murphy from overworking and taxing himself. “The injury occurred, and it kept this guy from working himself to death, too,” Collins said. “That might be a difference. The game starts, and he still has got a lot of strength this time of year.” Read more in the Daily News.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal looks at the Mets’ patience -- or, perhaps, over-patience -- at the plate. The Mets don’t even swing at strikes. Writes Diamond:
History shows that teams that walk a lot tend to win a lot. In the past 10 years, the team that had the most walks finished the season with an average final record of 95-67.
The Mets have taken that to heart. According to the baseball statistics website FanGraphs, 49.4 percent of pitches thrown to the Mets this season were deemed to be in the strike zone -- fifth-most in baseball. Nonetheless, they had swung at only 60.8 percent of those strikes, which ranked 26th.
That discrepancy indicates that Mets hitters make a conscious effort to work the count, even if it means taking a strike.
• Israel and Honduras will meet in a soccer friendly at Citi Field on June 2.
• Mike Pelfrey will not face the Mets this weekend in Minnesota. Pelfrey, with his mother in attendance, allowed six runs in two innings last night at Kansas City. Read more in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report examines whether Murphy should move to a middle-of-the-order slot in the lineup. … Each time Harvey pitches well, the respect level for the Mets goes up as well, writes The Eddie Kranepool Society. .. With a blowout brewing, Shannon from Mets Police began thinking about his DVR.
BIRTHDAYS: Frank Lary, who played for the Mets in the early ’60s, was born on this date in 1930.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Pelfrey, who is due to face the Kansas City Royals tonight, is not scheduled to pitch again until Monday, after the Mets have a weekend series at Target Field.
The pitching matchups:
Friday: Jonathon Niese vs. Vance Worley
Saturday: Matt Harvey vs. TBA
Sunday: Dillon Gee vs. Kevin Correia
Pelfrey signed with the Twins in late December for a $4 million base salary and the opportunity to earn another $1.5 million in incentives. In his Twins debut, Pelfrey picked up the win against Detroit. He allowed two runs (none earned) on five hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings while tossing 96 pitches.
Pelfrey underwent Tommy John surgery last May 1.
FIRST PITCH: Zack Wheeler, who tossed two scoreless innings against the Washington Nationals in his Grapefruit League debut, gets the start against the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:10 p.m. today at Tradition Field.
The Mets thought enough of Wheeler’s showing against the Nats that they favorably compared his pitching data during the weekend performance to Stephen Strasburg’s metrics in the same game.
Today, Wheeler will oppose right-hander Lance Lynn. Also scheduled to pitch for the Mets: Darin Gorski, Bobby Parnell, Greg Burke and Carlos Torres.
“The guy is pretty quiet,” Jonathon Niese says about Wheeler. “He’s kind of got that quiet confidence about him, which is really good. Obviously his stuff is really good.
“There’s a lot of talent. Obviously, [Matt] Harvey and Wheeler, they’re two guys in the upper 90s. As a starter, that’s pretty impressive.”
On Thursday night in Viera, the Mets will see Strasburg for a second this spring training, opposite Rafael Montero.
Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers visit Port St. Lucie on Friday. Niese gets that start for the Mets.
Harvey pitches Saturday.
Wednesday’s news reports:
Jenrry Mejia surrendered a grand slam in a five-run first inning Tuesday.
• Terry Collins said Ruben Tejada, who was scratched from Monday’s game, has seen improvement with his injured right quadriceps and will start today’s game. Read more in the Post.
• David Wright is due to start at third base Wednesday, in his second-to-last game before departing for the World Baseball Classic. Collins has started to poll veterans about making Wright the captain before Opening Day.
• LaTroy Hawkins has yet to appear in a spring-training game, but pitching coach Dan Warthen says the 40-year-old reliever is just taking his time with this year’s spring training especially long because of the World Baseball Classic.
• Right-handed pitching prospect Erik Goeddel was struck in the face with a baseball and may be facing surgery.
• Marc Carig in Newsday profiles Wilmer Flores, who may have 20-homer potential in the majors, but still must find a position. Flores, originally a shortstop, now has settled into playing second and third base. The Mets say they will not dabble with Flores -- who is slow-footed, at least with his first step -- in the outfield. Read more in the Times.
• Kevin Kernan in the Post profiles Burke, including discussing the influence of Rick Peterson on the right-hander’s recently adopted submarine-style delivery.
Mike Pelfrey made his Grapefruit League debut with the Twins on Tuesday.
When manager Ron Gardenhire walked to the mound to remove him after 10 hitters -- five of whom got hits -- the 6-foot-7 pitcher hesitated. "When I was with the Mets, we always waited for the reliever, and handed him the ball," Pelfrey said and laughed. "I said, 'Do you want the ball?' He said, 'You're bigger than me, you let me know.' "
• Cory Mazzoni, a former second-round pick from NC State, has now tossed five scoreless Grapefruit League innings. Read more at MLB.com.
• Niese aims to represent the Mets at this year’s All-Star Game at Citi Field, writes Marty Noble at MLB.com.
• Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria’s PR campaign to spin the team’s offseason fire sale is not being met with rave reviews. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News chats with Travis d’Arnaud. Collins tells Harper the Mets will not let d’Arnaud block the plate for now to avoid injury risk, although that could change once he reaches the majors. “He’s the future,” Collins said. “So we’re going to be smart about this. When he gets to the big leagues, things may change, but right now let’s let him get to the big leagues. The thing is, catchers with his offensive potential, they’re hard to find.”
• The Mets are trying to get former Pennsylvania high school wrestler Josh Edgin to pitch to contact rather than try to strike everyone out, writes Kristie Ackert in the Daily News.
• From the bloggers … At Mets Police, Shannon is pleased with the way the Mets are dressing this spring. … Rising Apple considers whether the Mets can compete with a $90 million payroll in 2014. … Faith and Fear in Flushing realizes the Mets have been training in Port St. Lucie as many springs and they did in St. Petersburg, and notices how the pace has changed.
BIRTHDAYS: Longtime Atlanta Braves right-hander Pete Smith, who started 21 games for the Mets in 1994 after being acquired for Dave Gallagher, turns 47.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Please use the comments section to weigh in
FIRST PITCH: Right-hander Jenrry Mejia, delayed in the Dominican Republic while his identity and age were scrutinized and eventually confirmed, makes his first 2013 Grapefruit League appearance this afternoon as the Mets visit the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, Fla.
Mejia already had pitched 1 2/3 innings in an outing at the Mets’ complex in the Dominican Republic, so he should be prepared for the spring-training start.
Although Johan Santana is “making strides,” Mejia and Jeremy Hefner likely would receive the most consideration to be part of the initial rotation if Santana were to open the season on the DL.
Mejia only will work as a starting pitcher, at least in camp and early this season. With Triple-A Buffalo in 2012, Mejia had a 2.75 ERA as a starter and 5.48 ERA in the bullpen.
Also due to face the Marlins this afternoon: Scott Atchison, Jeurys Familia, Cory Mazzoni, Hansel Robles and Carlos Torres. See the full travel roster here.
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco is scheduled to start for Miami, which underwent a fire sale during the offseason.
Tuesday’s news reports:
Ruben Tejada has a right quadriceps injury.
• Frank Francisco played catch with Collins on flat ground, making 25 tosses at 60 feet. That marked Francisco’s first time tossing a baseball since he reported to camp with right elbow inflammation. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Post.
• Lucas Duda will be held out of Grapefruit League games for at least a couple of days. Duda insisted his surgically repaired wrist is fine, and that he just needs more time in a batting cage in order to be ready for spring-training games. Duda has been working to adjust his stance. He is 0-for-7 with six strikeouts early in Grapefruit League play. Read more in the Journal, Newsday, Post, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Assistant professors Stephen Shapiro of Old Dominion University and Joris Drayer of Temple University analyzed Mets ticket pricing data for the 2012 season. Read the results, which compare the Mets’ dynamically priced tickets to StubHub prices, here.
• Howard Megdal at Capital New York finds Amway’s new storefront at Citi Field unsavory. Writes Richard Sandomir in the Times:
Amway is something of a strange partner for a baseball team. It is a multi-billion-dollar direct seller, which deploys millions of independent sales agents worldwide to sell mostly vitamins, dietary supplements, energy drinks and home cleaning products.
It would also appear to be a strange choice for the Mets, whose ownership last year settled a lawsuit brought against them by the trustee for the victims of the Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Bernard L. Madoff. In 2011, Amway, which has been accused of being a pyramid scheme, settled a class-action suit for $56 million over allegations that it had misled its distributors about how they would make money.
• R.A. Dickey made his Grapefruit League debut with the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk in two innings against the Boston Red Sox. The opposing starting pitcher: another knuckleballer, Steven Wright.
• Mike Puma in the Post profiles 40-year-old LaTroy Hawkins, who was converted to relief by manager Tom Kelly with the Minnesota Twins in 2000. Hawkins recalls a young Santana “just rotting” in the Twins bullpen. As for Hawkins’ subpar performance in the Bronx, which included upsetting Yankees fans by wearing Paul O’Neill’s No. 21, the reliever says: “Everything that could go wrong went wrong.”
Center field prospect Matt den Dekker robbed a home run on Monday night.
• Collins is considering having the diminutive-but-aggressive Collin Cowgill platoon in the leadoff spot with Kirk Nieuwenhuis in addition to platooning them in center field. In two spring-training games against the Nats, Cowgill already has scored from second on a ball booted in the infield and tagged up to third base on a fly ball to left field. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News and Record.
• Columnist David Lennon in Newsday notes the Mets and Yankees both have outfield woes, especially now that Curtis Granderson is sidelined 10 weeks with a fractured forearm.
• Anthony DiComo at MLB.com profiles lefty relief candidate Scott Rice, who has never appeared in the majors. Writes DiComo:
Scott Rice was stuck in independent ball again. It was 2011 and, with no other options, Rice hooked on with the York (Pa.) Revolution as a 29-year-old journeyman reliever. He did not want to be there. So each Monday, he flipped open a phone-book-thick baseball directory and dialed the office number for every minor league executive he could find.
Rice went in ascending order, from those with few lefties at the high levels of their organizations to those with many, cold-calling 20 to 30 farm directors per week. All he wanted was an opportunity.
But "nine times out of 10," Rice said, "you don't get a call back."
• Less than 10 months after Tommy John surgery, Mike Pelfrey is thriving in Minnesota Twins camp, writes Tyler Kepner in the Times.
• Former ’86 Mets manager Davey Johnson, in his final season with the Nats as a skipper, has a World Series-contending team. “He’s perfect for that club,” Bobby Ojeda tells columnist John Harper in the Daily News. “They’re loaded and he knows it. But with all the expectations, if you don’t handle it the right way it could blow up on him. But that’s where Davey is so good -- he’s a genius at handling men.”
• In the Post, Darryl Strawberry and John Franco weigh in on the 2013 Mets.
• From the bloggers … The Eddie Kranepool Society wonders if someone can steal Daniel Murphy’s second-base job. … At Mets Police, Dan Twohig wonders if we have forgotten about the 1973 Mets? … Amazin’ Avenue chats with Paul DePodesta.
BIRTHDAYS: Nobody to ever appear in a regular-season game for the Mets celebrates a birthday today. Michael Bolton, Johnny Cash and Fats Domino all were born on this date, though.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should Jenrry Mejia be used as a starting pitcher … or as a reliever, where many scouts as well as pitching coach Dan Warthen ultimately project him?
One scout who saw Wheeler spring debut: "Same stuff as Strasburg. That will go down as best trade Sandy Alderson will make in his life."— DKnobler (@DKnobler) February 25, 2013
Please use the comments section to weigh in
Ike Davis, Matt Harvey and the rest of the Mets crew hit the bowling alley tonight.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.
FIRST PITCH: Mets pitchers and catchers get a late start Sunday, trying to avoid frigid morning temperatures -- at least by Florida standards -- by heading outdoors at noon.
The position players had an early wakeup call, though, with physicals scheduled for the wee hours of the morning.
Johan Santana is scheduled to proceed with his first bullpen session since getting shut down last August, according to pitching coach Dan Warthen.
The Mets then kick off their team-camaraderie-building weekly bowling events on Sunday night.
The first full-squad workout is Monday, and should include batting practice. We’ll be watching for an Ike Davis-Pedro Feliciano matchup.
Sunday’s news reports:
• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post asserts Fred Wilpon and family should demonstrate there are no financial restraints on Sandy Alderson by signing still-free-agent Jose Valverde. The Mets were willing to sign Valverde to a deal with an approximate $4 million base salary and incentives before they inked Brandon Lyon, sources told ESPNNewYork.com.
But Alderson said Wednesday that even with the uncertainty involving Frank Francisco, the organization is done adding free agents. Davidoff nonetheless suggests from an industry source the door is “slightly ajar” to Valverde.
"What separates Travis is his hands," Sal Fasano , who managed d’Arnaud in Double-A, told Rieber. "They're so unique, both offensively and defensively. Catching, he's got great hands, and he can really hit. I don't like to compare people, but Mike Piazza was one of the strongest human beings with his hands that I've ever seen. Travis is quick with his hands. He's loose but he's powerful at contact. He was able to snap his wrists like not too many people can. That's why he has power to all fields."
• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Bobby Parnell, the closer assuming Francisco is unavailable … and maybe the closer anyway. It includes this exchange:
Q: Who was your boyhood idol?
A: I always idolized Roger Clemens as a pitcher. I’ve met him. I played with his son Koby in Hawaii. He hung out with us like he’s a normal person.
• Jordany Valdespin indicated the offseason photo of him wearing a Marlins cap was tweeted from his account without permission by a relative. Terry Collins said Valdespin mostly will play infield during spring training. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, MLB.com and Newsday.
• Jeurys Familia will be used as a reliever during spring training, Mike Puma notes in the Post.
“This guy has a chance to be a closer,” Collins told Puma. “When he gets command of that secondary pitch, where he can throw it when he wants to, with that sinker, I think he’s got a chance to be devastating. He’s a big, strong guy, durable, can pitch every day, so I just think he’s got the makings of a guy that can pitch late in the game.”
• Jenrry Mejia remains absent as MLB conducts an age and identity check on behalf of the U.S. consulate in the Dominican Republic, notes Marc Carig in Newsday.
• Cody Derespina in Newsday makes a statistical argument for David Wright to lead off. Based on descending career on-base percentages, Derespina writes, the batting order would be: Wright, Mike Baxter, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Davis, Ruben Tejada, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, John Buck. (After the first time through the lineup, Wright probably would not see many pitches with Baxter protecting him.)
• David Lennon in Newsday visits Mike Pelfrey in Minnesota Twins camp. Pelfrey, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, visited Port St. Lucie last week to dine with former teammates Dillon Gee, Parnell, Wright and Davis. Pelfrey joked he came to beat Wright in golf and win some money, but Wright topped him.
As for the end of his Mets tenure, the former first-round pick told Lennon: “I'll never forget last year when I got booed on Opening Day. Jason Bay and I got booed on Opening Day, and I'm thinking, 'Man, this is what it's come to, I guess.' You're not human if it doesn't bother you."
• Rick Peterson taught reliever Greg Burke a submarine delivery at the end of last spring training in camp with the Baltimore Orioles. Now he may make the Mets’ Opening Day roster, especially if Francisco ends up on the DL to open the season. Read more at MLB.com.
• Marlon Byrd is the distinct favorite to claim an outfield spot. If not, fellow righty hitters Andrew Brown and Jamie Hoffmann are among the competitors. Read more on the outfield, with historical perspective, from Marty Noble at MLB.com. Writes Noble:
The '73 team reached the seventh game of the World Series with merely one legitimate offensive force among its outfielders -- Rusty Staub, who drove in 76 runs and hit 15 home runs. Even the heralded '86 Mets lacked power at the traditional run-production positions by the time they reached the postseason. [George] Foster (13 home runs, 38 RBIs) had been released in August, so the outfield had [Darryl] Strawberry (27, 93), [Lenny] Dykstra (8, 45) and [Mookie] Wilson (9, 45).
Not until 1987, after the club had obtained [Kevin] McReynolds, did the franchise deploy teams with sets of outfielders with genuine power at two positions. In the four seasons they played in the same outfield, Strawberry (144 and 390) and McReynolds (102 and 361) averaged 61 home runs and 188 RBIs as a tandem.
The current Mets would be delighted if their entire outfield produced at that rate this year.
• Bill Madden in the Daily News reviews the potential free-agent outfielders next offseason: Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, Hunter Pence, Corey Hart, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Gomez, Michael Morse and Jeff Francoeur.
• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger looks at the advanced age of the Mets’ bullpen, which may include LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Atchison and Feliciano. In a Q&A with Hawkins, the 40-year-old reliever talks about his godson Elijah Johnson, who stars for the Kansas basketball team.
• From the bloggers ... Shannon from MetsPolice.com sees a sea of fourth outfielders. … Faith and Fear in Flushing reflects on eight years of blogging about Mets team that hasn't always stayed aloft. … Mets Merized reflects on the one-year anniversary of Gary Carter’s passing.
BIRTHDAYS: Roger Craig, who lost a combined 46 games for the Mets over the first two years of the club’s existence, was born on this date in 1930. … Former reliever Juan Padilla turns 36.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets still pursue Jose Valverde?
@adamrubinespn Murph's card is the best one yet...— Vince Gagliardi (@VinceGagliardi) February 16, 2013
Please use the comments section to weigh in
Pelfrey has agreed to a one-year contract with a $4 million base salary and the potential to earn another $1.5 million in incentives, a major league source told ESPNNewYork.com. The deal is pending a physical.
Pelfrey had been non-tendered by the New York Mets last month. He made $5.7 million during the 2012 season.
Pelfrey underwent Tommy John surgery on May 1 that cost him the remainder of the season. Despite typically a one-year recovery time from the ligament-replacement surgery, Pelfrey recently expressed confidence he would be ready for a normal workload during spring training. He already has been facing batters at his former college program, Wichita State University.
“I’m on track for Jan. 15. So everything is going well,” Pelfrey said. “Tim Hudson came back in seven months (from Tommy John surgery). Joba Chamberlain last year came back in eight before he broke his ankle. And I’ll be about eight and a half or so. I’ll definitely be ready when spring training rolls around.”
Pelfrey, a 2005 first-round pick, went 50-54 with a 4.36 ERA in 153 appearances (149 starts) during seven seasons with the Mets.
Pelfrey made three starts this past season before undergoing May 1 Tommy John surgery. He already has thrown a 105-pitch session this week at his alma mater, Wichita State, including 60 pitches to hitters, and expects to easily be ready for next season.
Pelfrey made $5.6875 million in 2012. He had been eligible for arbitration for a final time this offseason.
Mike Pelfrey has been non-tendered by the Mets.
Arbitration-eligible players who are tendered contracts by the midnight deadline must receive at least 80 percent of their previous year’s salaries, and rarely receive any reduction. By cutting Pelfrey loose, the Mets are free to sign him for any amount.
Manager Terry Collins said during the final week of the season he would be eager for the organization to bring back Pelfrey as a reliever.
Still, Pelfrey indicated he is strongly inclined to consider only starting roles, although he and agent Scott Boras have not had in-depth discussions about that issue. Pelfrey finds it difficult to foresee re-signing if the Mets show interest unless one of the established starters -- R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey or Dillon Gee -- is traded.
“For me, I prefer to start,” Pelfrey said. “I haven’t really had a whole lot of discussions with [Boras] about that. I know they kind of mentioned it doesn’t make sense to have Tommy John and then go to the bullpen. For me, my first option would be to start. I feel like I can give a team 200-plus innings, which is pretty valuable.
“Coming off surgery, the biggest thing for me is I need to pitch. Coming into camp as the extra guy is not something I would want to do. … I didn’t work that hard to be an extra guy. I want to take the ball every fifth day. Obviously, numbers-wise, if they have five starters, I wouldn’t come back. … If the Mets have five starters, I guess I’ll end up pitching somewhere else.”
Despite his departure, Pelfrey expressed appreciation to the lone organization he has known in his eight seasons as a professional ballplayer. Pelfrey, 28, produced a 50-54 record and 4.36 ERA in 153 appearances (149 starts) for the club.
“I want to thank the organization for giving me the opportunity,” Pelfrey said. “It was my first opportunity. They stuck by me through some good times. They stuck by me through some bad times. I appreciate everything they’ve done for me. I wish them nothing but the best in the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen with my future, but whatever transpires, as long as I’m not playing against them, I’ll be rooting for them and I wish them the best of luck.”
Pitchers often take a full year to recover from Tommy John surgery, but Pelfrey insisted he would be ready for game action by January and is actually going to back off throwing slightly so he comes into a camp in February going full throttle but not sooner.
“The most important thing is for me to be healthy,” Pelfrey said, “and I honestly believe I’ll have an opportunity to pitch somewhere. I just want to pitch. I’m on track for Jan. 15. So everything is going well. Tim Hudson came back in seven months [from Tommy John surgery]. Joba Chamberlain last year came back in eight before he broke his ankle. And I’ll be about eight and a half or so. I’ll definitely be ready when spring training rolls around.”
The Mets are expected to cut loose Manny Acosta, Andres Torres and Mike Pelfrey this week.
Pelfrey, the organization's first-round pick in 2005, earned $5.785 million this past season. He underwent Tommy John surgery on May 1. Pelfrey is optimistic he will be able to throw 100 pitches even in January. But with a full year recovery time typical for Tommy John surgery, the Mets plan to cut loose Pelfrey.
"If the season started Jan. 15, I would be able to go out and throw 100 pitches," Pelfrey said.
The Mets would be open to re-signing him for a lesser amount, but Pelfrey is represented by agent Scott Boras, who would seem more likely to place Pelfrey with another team. That's especially true if the Mets retain their current five starters -- R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee -- since Pelfrey's best chance to re-establish a high value likely would be by serving as a starting pitcher in 2013, not in the bullpen.
Torres was part of the ill-fated trade with the San Francisco Giants that materialized during last year's winter meetings. He arrived with right-hander Ramon Ramirez, who is now a free agent, for Angel Pagan. Torres made $2.7 million this past season.
Acosta had a major league salary of $875,000 last season.
If an arbitration-eligible player is tendered a contract, he must make at least 80 percent of his previous year's salary. And players rarely receive any kind of pay cut through the arbitration process, even coming off a subpar year.