New York Mets: New York Mets

What2Watch4 in 2015: Wilmer Flores

March, 5, 2015
Mar 5
11:00
AM ET
Wilmer Flores had a surprising issue with lefties last season.
We'll run through most of the Mets' roster for 2015 with a look at the key stats to know heading into this season.

2014 Recap
Wilmer Flores was adequate though not great in a little less than half a season's worth of starts for the Mets. Flores' time at shortstop increased after the Mets grew frustrated with the play of Ruben Tejada. Flores hit .251 with six home runs in 259 at-bats, and the hope is that he'll find his way to a better on-base percentage than last season's .286.

Flores showed the ability to make contact. He missed on only 14 percent of his swings. But he may have been too selective, as 38 percent of the pitches he took were called strikes (the major league average is about 33 percent).

The primary concern with Flores at shortstop is his defense. He had minus-3 defensive runs saved in 443 innings at the position. Flores was able to handle most of what he could get to, but he showed a limited amount of range due to a lack of quickness. An offseason spent in conditioning camp might improve upon that a little bit.

A surprising comfort zone
Flores was a capable shortstop in one regard: handling the double play. Flores converted 32 of 39 double-play opportunities at shortstop as either the fielder or the relay man. That's an 82 percent success rate, which is excellent, though it's for a small sampling of games. The major league average was 64 percent; Tejada was at 62 percent last season.

Odd splits
Flores hit .285 against right-handed pitching, with all six of his homers coming against righties. He was only 7-for-59 against left-handed pitching, though some bad fortune may have been in play there. He was 1-for-35 when hitting either a ground ball or fly ball against left-handed pitching. He had hit lefties well in the minors prior to this.

A good close
Flores looked most comfortable with the pressure off in the final two weeks of the season. He hit .333 with 18 hits, eight for extra bases, in his last 14 games. That included a two-homer, six-RBI game against the Marlins.

What2Watch4 in 2015
Can Flores handle shortstop full time? The Mets don't necessarily need him to be great. They just need him to be decent. Mets shortstops had a .594 OPS the past two seasons, the second-lowest in the majors, ahead of only the Yankees (.588).

It's Not Crazy, It's Sports: Being Mr. Met

March, 5, 2015
Mar 5
11:00
AM ET
video

From 1994 to 1997, A.J. Mass entertained millions at Shea Stadium without saying a word, as one of baseball's most iconic and beloved figures, Mr. Met.

Morning Briefing: Bring on the Nats!

March, 5, 2015
Mar 5
7:25
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: Bartolo Colon makes his 2015 Grapefruit League debut Thursday as the Mets play a 5:05 p.m. game against the Washington Nationals in Viera (WOR). Max Scherzer, who signed a seven-year, $210 million contract, will debut for the Nats in a potential preview of the Opening Day matchup in D.C.

Right-hander Tanner Roark, bumped from Washington’s rotation to the bullpen despite going 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts last season, is due to appear in relief on Thursday. Scheduled Mets relievers include Gabriel Ynoa, Cory Mazzoni and Josh Edgin. See the full travel list here.

Friday, remember, is Matt Harvey Day against the Detroit Tigers at Tradition Field. He faces David Price. Noah Syndergaard follows Harvey. That 1:10 p.m. game will be televised by SNY.

Thursday’s news reports:

• The Mets beat the Braves, 8-2, in Wednesday’s Grapefruit League opener at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Kirk Nieuwenhuis went 4-for-4 and catcher Johnny Monell launched a three-run homer. After Dillon Gee surrendered two first-inning runs and added a perfect second frame, Jon Velasquez, Jack Leathersich, Zack Thornton, Dario Alvarez, Akeel Morris and Erik Goeddel combined on a shutout the rest of the way. Wilmer Flores departed the game in the fifth after being hit on the left pinkie by Matt Capps. Flores said he is uninjured. He is not scheduled to make Thursday’s trip to Viera anyway.

Read more on the extra-wheel Gee in the Post, Daily News, Times, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

Lucas Duda swung a bat Wednesday for the first time in three weeks. Duda, who took 25 swings off a tee, had been idle since straining the intercostal muscle on his left side before camp officially began.

“I felt really good, no issues,” Duda told the Post back at Mets camp. “I have plenty of time to get where I need to be.”

Daniel Murphy is going to refrain from speaking further about his religious beliefs and homosexuality after voicing his opinion on Billy Bean’s visit to camp and creating headlines. On Wednesday, Bean penned a column in which he was respectful of Murphy’s opinion. Bean, MLB’s ambassador for inclusion, wrote for MLB.com:

After reading his comments, I appreciate that Daniel spoke his truth. I really do. I was visiting his team, and a reporter asked his opinion about me. He was brave to share his feelings, and it made me want to work harder and be a better example that someday might allow him to view things from my perspective, if only for just a moment.

Read more in Newsday, the Daily News and at NJ.com.

• A billboard imploring Mets owners to sell the team is now visible heading southbound on I-95, about eight miles north of the Mets’ spring-training complex. Two billboards are planned for Roosevelt Ave. near Citi Field in April. Read more in the Daily News.

• Lunch-gate officially has run its course. David Wright said he treated Syndergaard like he would one of his brothers, but expressed regret about confronting Syndergaard about being in the clubhouse during an intrasquad game within media earshot. Syndergaard accepted responsibility and said veteran players meant no malice. Bobby Parnell offered an explanation for dumping the top prospect’s lunch. Watch video of Syndergaard and Wright discussing the matter here. Read more in the Journal, Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

Zack Wheeler is opposed to shifts. David Schoenfield at ESPNNewYork.com explores whether that’s warranted.

• Wheeler is talking big about the Mets’ chances in the NL East. Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News:

Zack Wheeler was talking about how much fun it will be matching up against the Nationals this season, when suddenly he turned the conversation in a direction that suggests the Mets are itching to prove a little something against the NL East champs.

“I guarantee you we all saw what Bryce Harper said,’ ” Wheeler said with a smile.

When they signed Max Scherzer? The Mets right-hander nodded.

“He said, ‘give me my ring,’ ” Wheeler continued. “We’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring, I’ll guarantee you that.”

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post speaks with hitting coach Kevin Long about remaking Curtis Granderson's swing. “We’re trying to preset his hands,’’ Long told Kernan. “Get him in the perfect hitting position so the hands are ready to fire and he can go as efficiently as possible from point A to point B. We have a blueprint to go off of this time. Before we were kind of piecing it together.”

From the bloggers … Mets Report suggests Wright did right by admitting his own mistake, too.

BIRTHDAYS: Mike Hessman turns 37.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Would you start Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler or another pitcher on Opening Day?

Mets 8, Braves 2: Kirk 4-for-4, Monell HR

March, 4, 2015
Mar 4
4:18
PM ET
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated PressWilmer Flores receives the throw as ex-teammate Eric Young Jr. steals second base in the first inning.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Dillon Gee, currently the odd man out of the Mets’ rotation, christened the Grapefruit League season on Wednesday in what became an 8-2 win against the Atlanta Braves at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Gee faced a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the first inning -- walking ex-teammate Eric Young Jr. and Jace Peterson to begin his outing. He eventually surrendered two runs in the 28-pitch frame. He then posted a perfect, seven-pitch second inning before departing.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, out of options and likely to make the team over Matt den Dekker, went 4-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.

Eric Campbell provided a go-ahead two-run double in the fifth against Matt Capps. Johnny Monell launched a three-run homer against ex-Yankee Jose Veras in a five-run sixth, when the Mets took an 8-2 lead.

"He's out of options, so it's nice to see him have a big day," Terry Collins said about Nieuwenhuis. "He's had to battle so many injuries in the last couple of years. The one thing we saw both he and Matt do, that's shorten their swings up a little bit to where they can put the ball in play more consistently. Because they know, as they look at the outfield situation, the job is to come off the bench. You can't have one of those long swings to do that job."

Jonny Gomes had a sacrifice fly and A.J. Pierzynski followed with an RBI single for the two runs charged to Gee.

“I didn’t start the way I wanted to, walking two guys,” said Gee, who noted: “That’s the first time I’ve had a hitter in the box. I didn’t get to throw my live BP because of the rain. It took a little getting used to. Your adrenaline starts pumping a little bit more with a guy in there than it does when you’re throwing a bullpen. So I felt a little off.”

For now, Gee will get starters innings, although his next appearance Sunday will come out of the bullpen, following Jonathon Niese. Barring a trade or an injury to a rotation member, the Mets should shift Gee to regular bullpen work in about two weeks.

Gee, who started on Opening Day last season, suggested he has successfully tuned out the uncertainty.

“Because in the end it doesn’t matter,” he said. “My job is to pitch -- wherever that is, whatever role, whatever team. I’m just trying to make sure that I’m in a good position by the end of spring training to help wherever that might be.”

Said Collins: "He's a victim of the situation. We all say he's not going to start, but gosh, we don't know what's going to happen. You look up and he's got 14 wins and you're thankful that you didn't trade him."

Ouch: Wilmer Flores was hit by a pitch in the pinkie on his left, non-throwing hand in the fifth inning and departed. Afterward, Flores said he was fine. Replacement Matt Reynolds contributed an RBI single in the sixth to stake the Mets to a 4-2 lead and finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

"It wasn't bad," Flores said. "I was fine. It did hit me a little bit, but it's not a big deal. Nothing to worry about."

Flores was not scheduled for Thursday's trip anyway.

Leading man: Collins got his first spring-training look at Juan Lagares in the leadoff role, where the manager prefers to place the Gold Glove winner. Lagares opened the bottom of the first by walking against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez. Lagares finished 1-for-2 with a double, walk and run scored.

"I thought he had some good at-bats today," Collins said. "He's a good player. The more confidence he gets in the offensive side of his game, the better he's going to be."

Back in St. Lucie: Lucas Duda (intercostal muscle strain) swung a bat for the first time in three weeks.

Odds & ends: Travis d'Arnaud bounced a throw to second base and failed to retire his first would-be base stealer, EY Jr., in the first. D’Arnaud did nail Freddie Freeman trying to advance to second base on a wild pitch later in the inning. … Kevin Plawecki nearly homered in the second inning but was robbed at the wall by left fielder Cedric Hunter. Plawecki later contributed an RBI single. … Brandon Allen twice grounded out with the bases loaded. … Jack Leathersich, who will need to demonstrate control in order to force his way into the lefty-relief conversation, walked consecutive batters to open his appearance but rallied to toss a scoreless fifth. … Veras threw a pitch well behind Wilfredo Tovar in the Mets' five-run sixth.

What’s next: The Mets play a 5:05 p.m. game Thursday against the Washington Nationals in Viera. In a potential Opening Day matchup, Bartolo Colon opposes Nats newcomer Max Scherzer. Gabriel Ynoa, Cory Mazzoni and Josh Edgin are also due to pitch for the Mets.

Bean responds to Murphy comments

March, 4, 2015
Mar 4
2:46
PM ET
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Billy Bean responded gracefully to Daniel Murphy's comments in which the second baseman tried to reconcile his religious beliefs with accepting a gay teammate.

In a column for MLB.com, Bean -- MLB's ambassador for inclusion -- wrote:

"I have tremendous admiration and respect for Daniel Murphy as a family man. Just last year, he made the decision to miss Opening Day for the birth of his son, and was criticized by some members of the New York media for this choice. Murphy deserved to be commended for putting his family first and that decision -- which led to an invitation to speak at the White House -- showed he's not afraid to stand up for what he believes in.


Adam Rubin/ESPN.comSandy Alderson invited Billy Bean to speak with the Mets on Tuesday.


"When I took this job at MLB, I knew it was going to take time for many to embrace my message of inclusion. Expecting everyone to be supportive right away is simply not realistic. If you asked anyone who has competed in high-level men's professional sports, I believe they would agree with me. This doesn't change the way I go about my business, or my belief in what I am doing, but it's reality.

"After reading his comments, I appreciate that Daniel spoke his truth. I really do. I was visiting his team, and a reporter asked his opinion about me. He was brave to share his feelings, and it made me want to work harder and be a better example that someday might allow him to view things from my perspective, if only for just a moment.

"I respect him, and I want everyone to know that he was respectful of me. We have baseball in common, and for now, that might be the only thing. But it's a start.
The silver lining in his comments are that he would be open to investing in a relationship with a teammate, even if he "disagrees" with the lifestyle. It may not be perfect, but I do see him making an effort to reconcile his religious beliefs with his interpretation of the word lifestyle. It took me 32 years to fully accept my sexual orientation, so it would be hypocritical of me to not be patient with others."

Murphy on Tuesday told NJ.com: "I disagree with his lifestyle. I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn't mean I can't still invest in him and get to know him. I don't think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them, but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent."

Anti-Mets ownership billboard rises

March, 4, 2015
Mar 4
12:49
PM ET
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A billboard objecting to Mets ownership is now on display on I-95 north of the Mets' spring-training facility, in Fort Pierce.

The billboard reads: "Fred, Jeff & Saul, Ya Gotta Leave."



Another billboard is planned for April near Citi Field.

According to the web site of the group that funded the billboard, metsbillboard.com: "We love the Mets and believe the owners are not responsible stewards of the team. Their poor financial and operational decisions have placed the team into a position where they no longer invest in a manner of placing the Mets in a successful situation. The owners manage the team in a manner to keep it as a family heirloom. Investment in real estate are the owner's goals, not a MLB competitive roster. They wish to develop the surrounding Citi Field area with a new shopping mall and condos, if the team is successful it is in spite of their decisions."

What2Watch4 in 2015: Daniel Murphy

March, 4, 2015
Mar 4
11:00
AM ET
Daniel Murphy handles pitches in the upper half of the strike zone very well.
We'll run through most of the Mets' roster for 2015 with a look at the key stats to know heading into this season.

2014 Recap
Daniel Murphy was an All-Star for the first time in 2014, which came partly as a result of his successful first half, partly because of the lack of depth in the NL at second base, and partly because there weren't many other Mets options, with David Wright having a down year and Matt Harvey injured.

Murphy had a good, albeit not great season, hitting .289 with nine home runs and 13 steals. His 2.0 wins above replacement would have been higher were it not for his defense.

Murphy finished with minus-11 defensive runs saved, his third straight season with minus-10 or worse at second base. Murphy has shown spurts of success with his glove but has run into periods in which his fielding is subpar.

"Defensively, I want to be more consistent, especially on the routine play," Murphy said. "Teuffy [infield coach Tim Teufel] said we did a better job turning the double play last year. I think we did a good job of that. The numbers kind of back that up."

Drive to Succeed
Murphy was one of the game's better line-drive hitters last season, something that has been a hallmark of his career.

His 28.7 percent line-drive rate last season ranked 10th in the majors among those with at least 250 plate appearances.

Milestone Watch
Murphy enters the season with 827 career hits. If he finishes with at least 173 in 2015, he'll become the 10th player to record 1,000 hits for the Mets. Murphy's offensive game has been predicated on line drives, often resulting in doubles.

His 190 doubles rank eighth in Mets history. A 36-double season would push him all the way up to second, trailing only Wright.

What2Watch4 in 2015
How good will Murphy be in his walk year?

Murphy has a chance to set himself up for a nice free-agent payday with a good season. He could benefit from the outfield fences being moved in closer in right-center field.

Murphy hit only .250 with a .652 OPS at Citi Field last season. He hit .322 with an .805 OPS on the road.

Wednesday's Mets-Braves lineups

March, 4, 2015
Mar 4
10:38
AM ET
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Here are the lineups for Wednesday's 1:05 p.m. Grapefruit League opener between the Mets and Atlanta Braves at ESPN Wide World of Sports (WOR).

Mets
Juan Lagares, cf
Matt den Dekker, rf
Wilmer Flores, ss
Travis d'Arnaud, c
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, lf
Eric Campbell, 3b
Brandon Allen, 1b
Kevin Plawecki, dh
Dilson Herrera, 2b

Dillon Gee, rhp

Braves
Eric Young Jr., cf
Jace Peterson, ss
Freddie Freeman, 1b
Jonny Gomes, dh
A.J. Pierzynski, c
Chris Johnson, 3b
Alberto Callaspo, 2b
Zoilo Almonte, rf
Cedric Hunter, lf

Wandy Rodriguez, lhp

Morning Briefing: Mets going to Disney!

March, 4, 2015
Mar 4
6:17
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets are headed to Disney World!

Dillon Gee will throw the team’s first pitch of the Grapefruit League season when the Mets visit ESPN Wide World of Sports for a 1:05 p.m. game Wednesday against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and the Atlanta Braves.

Also scheduled to pitch for the Mets: Dario Alvarez, Erik Goeddel, Jack Leathersich, Akeel Morris, Scott Rice, Zack Thornton and Jon Velasquez. Prominent position players on the trip include Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. (See the full travel list here.)

Terry Collins will get his first look of spring training at Lagares leading off, which is the manager’s preference if he feels the Gold Glove winner can produce even a .330 to .340 on-base percentage.

The game is not televised in New York, but WOR will carry it on the radio. With Howie Rose on Islanders duty, newly hired Wayne Randazzo will make his play-by-play debut, alongside Josh Lewin.

Wednesday’s news reports:

• Captain David Wright, trying to enforce team standards, found Noah Syndergaard inside the clubhouse eating lunch during Tuesday’s intrasquad game and confronted the top prospect. Bobby Parnell reportedly jumped in and tossed Syndergaard’s food in the trash. Syndergaard was contrite. Terry Collins offered support for the veterans’ policing actions.


Adam RubinNoah Syndergaard found himself with unwanted attention Tuesday.


“I think this is a bump in the road,” Sandy Alderson told the Post. “I don’t think this is a big deal.”

Columnists David Lennon in Newsday and John Harper in the Daily News write that Tuesday’s incident will serve Syndergaard and the Mets well long term. Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post also applauded Wright, but noted the captain needs to lead in the batter’s box, too.

Still, I worry about Syndergaard’s psyche. He made an honest mistake. And although he stands 6-foot-6, he is sensitive and seems to lack some confidence. Pulling him aside and privately saying he ought to be outside instead of creating headlines by acting in front of reporters may have been the better call.

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

• Billy Bean, MLB’s ambassador for inclusion, visited Mets camp on Tuesday and addressed Mets players. Bean came out about his sexual orientation after his playing career.

Later in the day, Daniel Murphy cited his religious beliefs in saying he does not approve of Bean’s sexual orientation, although Murphy noted that his belief set does not preclude him from getting to know Bean and acting cordially.

Read more in the Journal, Times, Daily News, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

• The Mets had a scoreless, eight-inning intrasquad game on the eve of Grapefruit play, although it is worth noting that two frames were called with two outs because pitchers had reached prescribed throwing limits.

Wright went 0-for-2 and fielded a grounder on the backhand at third base in his first game since a shoulder injury prompted him to be shut down after a Sept. 8 game last season. Jonathon Niese faced the minimum over two scoreless innings and indicated his shoulder feels night-and-day better than last spring training, when he struggled to crack 80 mph. Zack Wheeler struggled with his mechanics and issued two walks and surrendered two hits in 1 2/3 innings. View the box score here.

Read more in the Post, Newsday and at MLB.com.

• Those “Take the damn thing” T-shirts the Mets were issued by the club? They’re gone, according to SNY’s Robert Brender. Brender tweeted: “Was told Mets players no longer have their ‘Take the damn thing’ shirts. I haven't checked further but was told they were taken back.”

• Alderson said there are no substantive trade talks going on right now with respect to the team’s excess starting pitcher. Still, let’s see if any high-profile scouts are watching Gee on Wednesday at Disney. Read more at NJ.com, in the Daily News and at MLB.com.

• The families of a pair of NYPD officers slain in December will visit the Mets in Port St. Lucie this weekend.

• David O'Brien in the Atlanta Journal Constitution reviews the Braves heading into Grapefruit League play, including Eric Young Jr. competing for the center-field job with Melvin (formerly B.J.) Upton Jr. out two months with a foot injury. Right fielder Nick Markakis also is out, after surgery last week to repair a herniated disk in his neck.

• Columnist Bob Brookover in the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that the Mets are now emerging from the rebuilding process that the Philadelphia Phillies are entering. Writes Brookover:

The Phillies are just entering the tunnel. Who knows how long they will be in the darkness?

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear offers a requiem for a utility infielder. … Mets Report suggests there is a reason why Wright is the captain.

BIRTHDAYS: Jack Fisher, who pitched for the Mets in the ’60s, was born on this date in 1939.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Was David Wright and Bobby Parnell confronting Noah Syndergaard in view of the media appropriate?

Daniel Murphy offers view on Bean's visit

March, 3, 2015
Mar 3
6:35
PM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- On the day Billy Bean, MLB's ambassador of inclusion, visited the Mets at Sandy Alderson's invitation, Daniel Murphy found himself offering a perspective based on his religious beliefs.

Bean hid his homosexuality during his playing career and came out later. He discussed his story with Mets players Tuesday morning.

"I disagree with his lifestyle," Murphy told NJ.com. "I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn't mean I can't still invest in him and get to know him. I don't think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent."

Murphy added to the newspaper: "Maybe, as a Christian, ... we haven't been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That's the way I would describe it for me. It's the same way that there are aspects of my life that I'm trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There's a great deal of many things, like my pride. I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn't mean I'm just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door. That's not love. That's not love at all."

Asked earlier in the day about how his message is received by those who espouse similar beliefs, Bean said: "What's important is that if we have one or two people on a team that we might have exposed them to something they hadn't thought about before. I'm not here to change anybody or tell them that they're wrong. This is our country. We're allowed to be who and what we want. But I think the important thing is understanding the big picture -- that if you are a player on the Mets or in a big-league uniform, there's a huge responsibility that goes with that. And I think they can understand that regardless of what their personal opinion is of me. I can't be everybody's best friend."

Reports: Wright confronts Syndergaard

March, 3, 2015
Mar 3
4:08
PM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- David Wright confronted Noah Syndergaard for being in the clubhouse eating lunch and not being in the dugout during Tuesday's intrasquad game, according to multiple reports.

“I understand where David was coming from," Syndergaard told Newsday's Marc Carig. "We’re playing a team sport. I should be out there supporting my teammates. ... I really wasn't expecting it to be that big of a deal."

Captain back as Mets play eight scoreless

March, 3, 2015
Mar 3
3:51
PM ET
video

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For the first time since last Sept. 8, David Wright played in a game Tuesday, albeit only of the intrasquad variety.

Wright, who was shut down with loose ligaments in his non-throwing shoulder last season, fielded a short hop on the backhand off the bat of Cesar Puello but otherwise went untested at third base. He also went 0-for-2, grounding into a double play in the first inning and flying out to right field in the fourth.

The game went eight scoreless innings and included no extra-base hits -- either signaling the Mets’ pitching dominance, or that hitters are way behind the pitching this early in camp. (Two frames were halted with two outs because the pitcher had reached his pitch limit.)


Jeff Roberson/Associated PressJon Niese tossed two scoreless innings in Tuesday's intrasquad game.


Afterward, Wright downplayed the significance of returning to game action, noting his shoulder already felt fine in spring training.

“It felt like every other spring training, which is the goal coming into this,” Wright said. “… I’m fine.”

Still, Wright added: “You could do whatever you want during the offseason to prepare for games. But once you start getting into the games, it’s a different type of moving, a different type of sitting down and getting back up and trying to get hot again. … So all in all a good day.”

Niesely done: Jonathon Niese breezed through a pair of innings, at one point consecutively striking out Michael Cuddyer, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and John Mayberry Jr.

Niese faced the minimum in two innings. He issued a leadoff walk in the first inning to Curtis Granderson, but erased him on Wright’s double-play grounder.

Niese was thrilled with how he felt. He noted that by last year’s intrasquad game, shoulder troubles left him with little life on his fastball. Niese knew as far back as his first bullpen session in 2014 that something was wrong.

“A lot different than last year,” Niese labeled Tuesday’s effort. “My intrasquad last year, I don’t think I threw over 80 mph. So the ball came out, I think, fairly well today. The shoulder and elbow felt great.”

Collins said he can easily tell that Niese’s arm slot is higher and his arm speed is better this spring training because the shoulder issue appears behind the southpaw.

Wheels down: Zack Wheeler had not previously had a chance to face batters this spring training because his batting-practice session was rained out.

Wheeler struggled with control Tuesday, working opposite Niese.

Wheeler allowed two hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. His first inning of work was called after two outs because he had reached a pitch limit.

Wheeler said he was throwing across his body and “herky-jerky,” but he labeled it an easy fix.

“Obviously it didn’t go the way that I wanted,” Wheeler said. “I was just throwing across my body a little bit and couldn’t make that adjustment when I was out there. … It’s something simple to fix.”

First thing: 2014 first-round pick Michael Conforto, who is not in big-league camp, went 0-for-1 and finished the game in left field.

What’s next: The Mets open Grapefruit League play Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Dillon Gee starts opposite Braves newcomer Wandy Rodriguez. Also making the trip: Travis d’Arnaud, Wilmer Flores and Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

Bean dons uniform, invited to play in game

March, 3, 2015
Mar 3
12:00
PM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Sandy Alderson had even bolder ambitions for his invitation to Billy Bean to attend Mets camp. The Mets GM wanted Bean, a former major leaguer who concealed his sexual orientation until after his playing career, to play in a Grapefruit League game for the club.

Bean, 50, declined, not wanting to draw that much attention to himself. Still, Bean donned a Mets uniform Tuesday at camp and went through morning workouts with players. Earlier, he addressed the team. He has been invited to speak at a handful of camps during spring training, but the Mets took the further step of putting him in uniform.

Bean had been named MLB's first "ambassador for inclusion" last summer by then commissioner Bud Selig.


Adam RubinSandy Alderson and Billy Bean address the media on Tuesday morning.


"It's not just about being gay," said Alderson, who first met Bean in November. "It's about having any kind of personal issue that makes it difficult to perform and enjoy the game. In a way, he just represents one aspect of a larger effort by Major League Baseball to ensure that players are able to focus on the game and get the kind of advice or support that they need in their personal lives."

Alderson polled several players earlier this winter about Bean being in uniform with the Mets. The GM said the players "totally embraced it."

"We had more grandiose plans," Alderson said. "We thought about Billy even playing in a game, because for us, getting him in a uniform, images are powerful. And in a way it's a sort of symbolic embrace of bringing him back into the major league family. So that was our idea. The players were totally behind it. We're happy he's here."

Bean played parts of six seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. He left baseball prematurely because he was uncomfortable concealing his sexual orientation.

Asked about his message to players, especially since he may encounter those with strong religious beliefs who do not embrace his lifestyle, Bean said: "What's important is that if we have one or two people on a team that we might have exposed them to something they hadn't thought about before. I'm not here to change anybody or tell them that they're wrong. This is our country. We're allowed to be who and what we want. But I think the important thing is understanding the big picture -- that if you are a player on the Mets or in a big-league uniform, there's a huge responsibility that goes with that. And I think they can understand that regardless of what their personal opinion is of me. I can't be everybody's best friend."

Alderson said one strong motivation for bringing in Bean was the GM's observations of how gay baseball player Glenn Burke's life ended. Burke played for the A's in 1979, before Alderson's hiring with that organization.

"When I was in Oakland, he was homeless in San Francisco," Alderson said. "We reached out to him from time to time, largely on the insistence of a woman member of our staff, for which I give tremendous credit. But it wasn't enough. He died on the streets. He was homeless and died on the streets of San Francisco as an outcast. So, from my standpoint, that can't happen. It never should have happened. It can't happen again. Of course, that's an extreme case."

Said Bean about Alderson and the Mets: "The leadership that they're showing, I'm humbled by it and I'm excited to do it."

New faces find way onto Mets media guide

March, 3, 2015
Mar 3
11:21
AM ET

Courtesy of New York Mets2015 Mets media guide


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- It's clearly a new era for the New York Mets.

The Mets distributed their media guide Tuesday, and nowhere is David Wright to be found on the cover. Nor does Matt Harvey make an appearance. Or a veteran such as Curtis Granderson.

The two players who grace the 2015 cover? Reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and Gold Glove winner Juan Lagares.

Tuesday's Mets intrasquad lineups

March, 3, 2015
Mar 3
11:08
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Here are the lineups for the Mets' noon intrasquad game on Tuesday:

Blue
Curtis Granderson, rf
David Wright, 3b
Michael Cuddyer, 1b
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
John Mayberry Jr., lf
Kevin Plawecki, c
Brandon Allen, dh
Ruben Tejada, ss
Wilfredo Tovar, 2b

Zack Wheeler, rhp

Orange
Travis d'Arnaud, dh
Dilson Herrera, 2b
Matt Reynolds, ss
Eric Campbell, 1b
Anthony Recker, c
Cesar Puello, rf
Brandon Nimmo, lf
Matt den Dekker, cf
Danny Muno, 3b

Jonathon Niese, lhp

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.289 9 57 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187