New York Mets: New York Mets
It's not clear who that bench player is, but let's take a stab that it's Andrew Brown.
Meanwhile, Mets people predict Terry Collins will alternate lineups that include Eric Young Jr. and Juan Lagares -- meaning EY Jr. and Chris Young may share the leadoff role.
Bartolo Colon, rhp
Dillon Gee, rhp
Zack Wheeler, rhp
Daisuke Matsuzaka, rhp
Niese, lhp (DL)
EY Jr., lf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
David Wright, 3b
Curtis Granderson, rf
Chris Young, cf
Ike Davis, 1b
Travis d’Arnaud, c
Ruben Tejada, ss
Anthony Recker, c
Josh Satin, 1b/3b
Omar Quintanilla, if
Lucas Duda, 1b/of
Bobby Parnell, closer
Jose Valverde, rhp
Vic Black, rhp
Scott Rice, lhp
Jeurys Familia, rhp
Carlos Torres, rhp
John Lannan, lhp
The Mets do not need a fifth starter until April 6, against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. And that would be the day Niese would be eligible to be activated from the disabled list.
Placing Niese on the DL would allow the Mets to carry an extra bench player or, less likely, an extra relief pitcher for the first five games of the season. DL trips can be backdated nine days into spring training.
Terry Collins previously has identified Bartolo Colon as the likely Opening Day starter if Niese were not ready, with Dillon Gee the alternative. But a team insider told ESPNNewYork.com on Monday that the decision is "legitimately unresolved."
Niese is in New York and is due to undergo an MRI on Monday.
Matt den Dekker, lf
Ruben Tejada, ss
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
Zach Lutz, 1b
Eric Campbell, 3b
Anthony Recker, dh
Juan Centeno, c
Anthony Seratelli, rf
Omar Quintanilla, 2b
John Lannan, lhp
Adeiny Hechavarria, ss
Christian Yelich, cf
Giancarlo Stanton, rf
Garrett Jones, 1b
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c
Jeff Baker, 2b
Marcell Ozuna, lf
Casey McGehee, 3b
Henderson Alvarez, rhp
Seratelli plays the outfield, his primary position in Triple-A last year, after getting exclusively infield exposure early in camp.
USA TODAY SportsIf Jon Niese misses any significant time, two of three from Jenrry Mejia, Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan should be in the Opening Day rotation.
FIRST PITCH: Jonathon Niese is scheduled to have an MRI and be examined by team doctor David Altchek on Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.
Niese departed Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals after two innings and 35 pitches with elbow discomfort. The southpaw did not believe the injury was severe, but clearly he now is unlikely to make the Opening Day start on March 31 against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
Terry Collins previously had indicated Bartolo Colon is the probable Opening Day starter if Niese is not available, with Dillon Gee the other consideration.
If Niese’s elbow issue is not severe, the Mets still can place him on the disabled list to open the season and backdate it nine days into spring training.
That means Niese would be eligible to return April 6 against the Cincinnati Reds, which happens to be the first day the Mets would need a fifth starter. That also would allow the Mets to carry an extra bench player (Andrew Brown or Wilmer Flores, perhaps?) or an extra bullpen arm for the first five games of the season.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was the probable fifth starter before Niese’s injury anyway.
If Niese is lost beyond April 6 and the Mets need another starter, the team would need to debate John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia’s candidacies as the fill-in. Lannan otherwise should make the team in relief.
Mets officials previously have told ESPNNewYork.com that they do not want to continue to shift Mejia between starting and relieving. If Mejia is not in the rotation to start the year, team brass will have a serious discussion late in spring training about Mejia’s future role -- and then stick with it.
Rafael Montero is not an Opening Day rotation consideration, but will get consideration for a relief role, according to Collins. Still, unless Lannan ends up in the rotation, it is difficult to see where Montero might fit in the pen to start the season. The projected bullpen pre-Niese injury has included Bobby Parnell, Vic Black, Jose Valverde, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia, Scott Rice and Lannan.
Meanwhile, the Mets who traveled to Las Vegas were due to land in the early morning hours on Monday. Most of those players likely will be excused from an afternoon game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. Lannan opposes Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez at 1:05 p.m. (WOR 710 AM).
Monday’s news reports:
• Cory Vaughn homered against Adam Wainwright and finished with four RBIs as the Mets beat the Cards, 10-4, despite losing Niese to injury after 35 pitches. Ruben Tejada committed his fourth Grapefruit League error and was hitless in four at-bats, dropping his average to .091 (2-for-22). Read more on Tejada and the game against the Cards in the Post and MLB.com.
• Mejia and Montero allowed a combined five runs (four earned) in five innings as the Mets lost to the Chicago Cubs, 6-3, in Vegas. Juan Lagares made a dazzling catch and also threw out a runner at the plate. Flores started his second spring-training game at shortstop, with Collins pledging more action there. Brown belted a two-run homer and Zach Lutz contributed his third spring-training homer. Read more on Mejia and the Vegas game in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Read more on Niese’s injury in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News suggests it might make sense to trade some of the Mets’ young pitching for offense while they’re still prospects and before they get hurt. Of course, Niese’s injury potentially means the Mets have less room to deal because they need the pitching depth. Still, Harper notes, the Arizona Diamondbacks have two shortstops, Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings, and now may need a starting pitcher with Patrick Corbin apparently headed for Tommy John surgery.
• Matt Ehalt in the Record speaks with Matt den Dekker about his solid camp. He is hitting .379 (11-for-29) in Grapefruit League play.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal notes Las Vegas is a tough place for prospects to pitch. As for whether the 51s will remain the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate beyond this season, when the current player-development agreement will have expired, Las Vegas president Don Logan told Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger: "I think the geography is going to come into play. If there is a team on the East Coast available it just makes more sense maybe for them. But if you’re going to be in the West, this is the best place to be, because we have tons of air access to everywhere in the country."
• How did the Mets celebrate Curtis Granderson’s 33rd birthday on Friday night in Vegas? Anthony DiComo at MLB.com writes:
After a dinner at Andiamo Steakhouse, the Mets gathered around a Sigma Derby machine on the casino floor, where players could wager quarters on fake horses.
"Guys were upset they lost six dollars," Granderson recalled, laughing.
It was a way for the Mets to blow off some steam, enjoying their two-day trip to Vegas for a pair of exhibition games against the Cubs. While some members of the traveling party stuck to relaxing -- David Wright spent much of his free time watching college basketball on television -- many others dabbled in what Vegas had to offer.
BIRTHDAYS: Lagares turns 25. ... Former Mets catcher Vance Wilson is 41.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Which two pitchers should fill the Jon Niese and fifth starter’s roles assuming Niese misses a portion of the beginning of the season?
A smile is the lighting system of the face, the cooling system of the head and the heating system of the heart. #buenasnoches— Jose Reyes (@lamelaza_7) March 17, 2014
Mejia allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks in 2-1/3 innings. He surrendered a solo homer to Donnie Murphy in the third before giving way to Rafael Montero.
“His command wasn’t real good today,” Terry Collins said. “When he pitched for us last year, that was one of his strengths -- his command. Today, he didn’t have it. I don’t know whether it was a different mound or whatever.
“He threw a lot of pitches, a lot of deep counts, so we had to get him out of there. His stuff was still good. We’ll run him out in five days and see how he does.”
Matsuzaka appears the front runner for the fifth starter’s role. Now, if Niese were to miss significant time, the Mets could include Lannan or Mejia in the rotation, too. Lannan otherwise should be in the bullpen.
Mets officials have told ESPNNewYork.com that they do not want to shift Mejia between starting and relieving roles anymore. They do plan to have a conference to consider a bullpen spot for him if he does not make the rotation out of spring training.
One option with Niese, assuming his elbow injury is not significant: backdate a DL stint nine days into spring training. The Mets will not need a fifth starter until April 6, so the Mets could carry an extra bench player or pitcher the through the first five games.
“He’s in the mix,” Collins said about Mejia as a rotation candidate. “But again, we don’t know if there’s something wrong with Jon or if he’ll miss ample time. Somebody’s got to fill that hole and we’ll need someone behind him.”
Montero also had an off day in the thin desert air. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk, with one strikeout in 2 2/3 innings. He served up a solo homer to Daniel Vogelbach.
“The homer was a mistake up here and he never pitches up there,” Collins said, raising his hand to his chest. “As a matter of fact, that might be one of the few times I’ve seen him make mistakes up there. He just didn’t make a good pitch. But we like him a lot.
“The issue’s going to become where we think we’re going to need him when it’s time -- out of the bullpen or in the rotation. With Jon having the problems he does, we need to make sure some of the minor-league arms we’ve got are ready to start if we need them. That’ll be discussed tonight.”
Collins then clarified that Montero is only a candidate to make the Mets’ Opening Day roster as a reliever, not a starter.
Gold Glove defense: Juan Lagares displayed the dazzling defense that has him in contention for a starting spot.
Playing center field, he made a diving catch of a shallow fly ball by Chris Coghlan to end a bases-loaded threat in the first. He then threw out Darwin Barney at the plate to end the second. Barney had doubled and tried to score on a single by Ryan Kalish.
“I’ve seen some great arms, and he’s in that group,” Collins said. “And accurate. He might have as accurate an arm as anybody I’ve ever seen. It was a tremendous throw. And a good catch in right-center field on the soft liner. We know he can do that. Defensively, he’s as good as anybody in the league.”
As for his offense, Lagares went 0-for-4.
“He’s trying hard. Like any young player, when you’re trying to make the club and try to impress people, you get two strikes and sometimes he expands [the zone] on his own,” Collins said. “He’s got to realize you’ve still got to make them throw you a strike. But he’s done a good job. We’re going to keep running him out there. We’ve got two more weeks and we’ve got five or six guys we’re going to try to get a lot of at-bats for.”
Shortcoming: Wilmer Flores made his second spring start at shortstop, and Collins insisted he’s still in the mix there, given the lack of capable shortstops in camp. Still, Collins already has assured Ruben Tejada of the starting job (assuming there are no external acquisitions). Tejada had his fourth Grapefruit League error Sunday in Jupiter.
“For sure, we’re going to play him again. He’s not done playing out there. We’ve got to have somebody ready,” Collins said about Flores. “We know Wilmer’s dangerous with the bat, so we’re going to try to move him around. He’s played second. We’ll let him play in the middle of the infield and see how hot we can get him.”
How they scored: Andrew Brown hit a long two-run homer, and Zach Lutz also homered and had two hits. Carlos Torres had five strikeouts in three innings and allowed a homer to Arismendy Alcantara.
"I was talking to Murph before the game," Vaughn said, referring to Daniel Murphy. "He was just basically saying he throws a cutter, he throws a sinker, and he tries to get you off-balance. So basically just look right down the middle of the dish and be able to react to out or in. So that's what I did. And he threw me a sinker."
Jonathon Niese left the game after two innings with elbow discomfort and will be dispatched to New York for an MRI.
"Originally I was just told by the trainer that he was feeling a little bit of discomfort on some pitches," acting manager Bob Geren said. "And so he was just about to go out [for the third inning]. I kind of pulled him back in and asked him about it and just made more of a precautionary decision at that point, talking to the trainer, that it would be a wise decision to take him out and go from there."
Geren added that there had been no red flags.
"His velocity was actually pretty good. It was actually better than last time out," Geren said. "His curveball was kind of a mixed bag. He threw a couple that hung. He threw a couple that were really good."
Buddy Carlyle, also an addition from minor-league camp, replaced Niese and logged 2 1/3 innings. The lone run charged to Carlyle came when he departed with Randal Grichuk on third base and Kyle Farnsworth entered and surrendered a run-scoring single to Jhonny Peralta.
Carlyle, 36, pitched last season in Triple-A for the Toronto Blue Jays. He last appeared in the majors in 2011 with the Yankees.
Farnsworth, who is not projected to make the Opening Day bullpen, allowed two hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. He has a March 23 contract out, so a resolution of his fate is expected in a week.
Meanwhile, Vic Black’s rocky spring training continued. He allowed three hits and a walk while surrendering one run in the eighth as St. Louis pulled within 6-4. Black has a 6.00 Grapefruit League ERA.
"Today wasn't that bad really," Geren said. "He got victimized a little bit today. I thought he threw a few close pitches that didn't go his way. I think it's something in his set-up, [coach] Ricky [Bones] was saying. He's making a few adjustments in his alignment, a couple of different things with his feet. The velocity is there. He looked a little frustrated his last couple of outings. But he finished the year so strong for us. He's got good stuff."
E-6: Ruben Tejada committed his fourth error, which ranks second in the Grapefruit League. Houston Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar leads with five errors.
Tejada lost the handle after fielding Matt Holliday’s routine third-inning grounder. Tejada did slickly initiate a double play later that frame.
"Honestly, he made two really good plays today, if you want to focus on the positive," Geren said. "The one ball scooted on him low -- Holliday's ball. It stayed down on him. What I did like is he stayed calm. He didn't panic. He went down and it just slipped out of his fingers. I was like, 'Aw, man, the guy can't catch a break.' And then he made a really nice play on the double play, and he dove to his right."
What’s next: After an early morning arrival by the contingent that played this weekend in Las Vegas, the Mets face the Miami Marlins on Monday at 1:05 p.m. in Jupiter (WOR 710 AM). John Lannan opposes right-hander Henderson Alvarez.
Lannan had been expected to open the season in the bullpen, but now should be a rotation consideration, along with Jenrry Mejia, if Niese opens the season on the disabled list.
Eric Young Jr., dh
Juan Lagares, cf
David Wright, 3b
Curtis Granderson, rf
Travis d'Arnaud, c
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, lf
Zach Lutz, 1b
Anthony Seratelli, 2b
Jenrry Mejia, rhp
Darwin Barney, ss
Ryan Kalish, rf
Ryan Sweeney, dh
Donnie Murphy, 2b
George Kottaras, c
Kris Bryant, 3b
Chris Coghlan, lf
Daniel Vogelbach, 1b
Matt Szczur, cf
Chris Rusin, lhp
Ruben Tejada, ss
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Chris Young, cf
Josh Satin, 3b
Matt Clark, 1b
Anthony Recker, c
Taylor Teagarden, dh
Matt den Dekker, rf
Cory Vaughn, lf
Jonathon Niese, lhp
Matt Carpenter, 3b
Jhonny Peralta, ss
Matt Holliday, dh
Allen Craig, 1b
Yadier Molina, c
Stephen Piscotty, rf
Kolten Wong, 2b
Jon Jay, cf
Randal Grichuk, lf
Adam Wainwright, rhp
Glenn Pinkerton/Associated PressEric Campbell produced a ninth-inning double while manning first base for the Mets on Saturday in Vegas against the Cubs.
FIRST PITCH: Opening Day is only 15 days away.
And Sunday marks the final split squad of spring training for the Mets.
All eyes will be on Jupiter, Fla., where Jonathon Niese will make his second Grapefruit League start (WOR 710 AM).
Niese, slowed early in camp by shoulder weakness, needs to demonstrate he is ready to make the Opening Day start against the Washington Nationals on March 31 at Citi Field.
Niese did eventually ramp up to 88-89 mph in his initial Grapefruit League appearance five days ago. But early in that outing Terry Collins was concerned, especially when Niese’s first pitch -- a fastball -- registered only 79 mph.
Niese opposes St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright at 1:05 p.m.
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, the Mets look to sweep a two-game series from the Chicago Cubs. After the game, the Mets take a chartered flight back to Florida, which should land about 1 a.m.
Although Jenrry Mejia may be ticketed for the Las Vegas rotation with Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, and Logan Verrett or Cory Mazzoni, Mejia will continue to try to make a case for the fifth-starter’s job when he starts at 4:05 p.m. ET opposite Cubs left-hander Chris Rusin.
Mejia tossed two scoreless innings against the Nats in his lone Grapefruit League appearance, on March 5. He was dominant for another two innings in a “B” game in his last outing.
Sunday’s news reports:
Mike Puma in the Post reports the Mets “seem resigned to at least starting the season with [Ruben] Tejada at shortstop.”
• Dillon Gee escaped unscathed in three-plus scoreless innings despite surrendering five hits, but the Mets ultimately tied the Minnesota Twins, 3-3, in a split-squad game at Tradition Field on Saturday. Vic Black surrendered three eighth-inning runs. 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith singled in his first career Grapefruit League at-bat. Jeurys Familia, working for a second straight day, topped out at 98 mph and broke the webbing of catcher Taylor Teagarden’s glove with one fastball. Familia has now tossed five scoreless innings. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Newsday, Record and MLB.com.
• In Las Vegas, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo homered twice against Bartolo Colon, but the Mets produced a 9-4 win at the home of their Triple-A affiliate. Bobby Parnell contributed a scoreless innings. Wilmer Flores had a two-run homer. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Lucas Duda and Ike Davis continued to get minor-league at-bats Saturday without running full throttle after making contact. They are expected to repeat that activity for a third straight day Sunday, Bob Geren said. Both are aiming for actual Grapefruit League games by midweek. Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.
• Terry Collins continues to suggest he may bat the pitcher eighth, at least on occasion. In that scenario, Tejada would bat ninth, the manager tells Anthony Rieber in Newsday.
• Tim Rohan in the Times features the Mets’ program that teaches Spanish-speaking players English. He notes that because Montero rose so quickly through the system because of his on-field success, he missed out on some of the English-learning opportunities more readily available in the low minors. Writes Rohan:
It has not helped that Montero has only a first-grade education, as he told The Star-Ledger last year. He grew up in rural Sabana Higüero in the Dominican Republic and moved to Santo Domingo at 17 with an older brother, hoping to play professional baseball someday. He trained tirelessly, and at 20 he signed with the Mets for $90,000.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News notes Las Vegas is not the ideal location for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, especially because it is rough on pitchers. However, while the player-development agreement expires after the 2014 season, allowing the Mets to switch, the club may be forced to stay in Vegas, since it is unclear if any city with an International League team will have a vacancy. Sandy Alderson has noted that Las Vegas has hired an experienced groundskeeper for the upcoming season, which should help. Read more in the Post, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Matt Ehalt in the Record profiles Syndergaard, who can squat 460 pounds and dead lift more than 500 pounds.
• Michael J. Fensom in the Star-Ledger has a Q&A with Chris Young, whose favorite TV show is “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” His favorite episode? “When Will teaches Ashley to play the drums.”
• From the bloggers … The Eddie Kranepool Society asks: Opening Day, are we there yet? … Faith and Fear shares an anecdote about our small digital world and a long-ago Braves playoff defeat. … The King of Queens urges Sandy Alderson to acquire Nick Franklin before someone else swoops in.
BIRTHDAYS: Curtis Granderson turns 33. ... Stephen Drew, who isn't a Met -- not yet, anyway -- turns 31.
TWEET OF THE DAY:Ruben Tejada will be the Opening Day shortstop?
“He’s exactly what he’s been advertised. A strike throwing machine,” Collins said. “If you go back and look at the pitches he used per hitter, the first time up, Rizzo saw five pitches. Nobody else saw more than three. That’s what he does.”
In his second spring start, Colon allowed four runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, with no strikeouts and one walk.
Rizzo hit a solo shot on a 3-1 pitch in the second, then connected for a two-run blast in the fourth on an 0-0 offering.
“He got behind in one count and the second time he tried to go away and got it up,” Collins said of Colon, the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner who compiled a career-low 2.65 ERA for Oakland last season before agreeing to a $20 million, two-year contract with the Mets.
At 5-feet-11 and 265 pounds, Colon is anything but an impressive physical specimen. But he was quick on his feet in the fifth, when he snared a hot shot back to the mound by Cubs left fielder Matt Szczur and threw him out at first base.
“Don’t get caught up in the fact this guy’s a big man,” Collins said. “He has quick feet. ... He’s going to help us. He’s going to make a big difference.”
Collins also was impressed with right-hander Cory Mazzoni, who struck out the side in the seventh in his only inning of work.
“That’s the best we’ve seen him throw, in two camps,” he said. “His stuff plays. He’s got three plus big league pitches. He throws 94-95. He’s got a great split, a good curveball and location -- when he gets to where he knows where it’s going -- he’s going to pitch in the big leagues for a long time.”
David Wright drilled a two-run double in the first, Andrew Brown drove in three runs and Wilmer Flores hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth.
What’s next: Jenrry Mejia opposes Cubs left-hander Chris Rusin at 4:05 p.m. ET Sunday as the Mets wrap up a two-game series at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. Mejia is trying to unseat front-runner Daisuke Matsuzaka for the final slot in the rotation, but very well may end up in Triple-A Las Vegas’ rotation with Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom to open the season.
ESPN's Jim Bowden hears that may be the case, considering an injury to incumbent starter Jose Iglesias.
Iglesias will miss most of 2014 with shin injury according to another player that is close to him. Speculation that Tigers will pursue Drew— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) March 15, 2014
“I’ve seen some balls six feet high go out of here,” he said.
A light-hitting career minor leaguer who played parts of six seasons for the PCL’s Albuquerque Dukes, Collins joked that the ball flies so easily out of the league’s ballparks that even he was able to hit one out once.
"I hit a home run one day in Albuquerque. They’re still talking about it," said Collins, who actually had six home runs in 2,009 career at-bats in the minors. "The other team’s manager was Rocky Bridges. When I hit it, he said, 'Oh no. Not you.'"
In all seriousness, Collins said he doesn’t think pitching in Las Vegas, New York’s Triple-A affiliate, and other PCL parks adversely affects Mets prospects.
“There’s bandboxes in the big leagues, too,” he said. “You’ve got to learn how to make pitches. It doesn’t hurt them.
“I know guys are going to hit home runs out here. If you’re hitting the ball hard, you’re going to hit home runs in the big leagues. Balls fly out of Philly just like they fly out of here. They fly out of Cincinnati just like they fly out of here.”
Collins and Sandy Alderson touched on several topics regarding Las Vegas, including the subpar facilities at the aging ballpark and the performance of 51s manager Wally Backman, who guided them to an 81-63 record and a division title last season.
Collins on the facilities: “I know they hired a new groundskeeper and the field looks absolutely great. But the issues have always been they need an indoor batting cage here when it’s 120 degrees in the summertime. They do a great job here, but the game has changed, with all the new parks around. I just hope there’s a chance one of these days there will be a new one built here.”
Alderson on the facilities: “I think the 51s would admit their facilities here aren’t ideal, with an outdoor batting cage and things of that sort. But they continue to make improvements. They have a new groundskeeper here and I think they’re moving in the right direction.”
Collins on Backman: “Wally Backman is one of the best baseball guys you can be around. He knows how to win. He’s done it. That’s been his whole life. He exudes the kind of player he was. ... Players take on the personality of the manager. If the players that leave Las Vegas take on Wally’s personality, we’re going to be better.”
Alderson on the possibility of the Mets renewing their affiliation with Las Vegas after this season: “We’ll just have to see how things develop. We didn’t anticipate being here last year, so the last thing I’m going to do is speculate about next year. But we have a good relationship with the 51s staff here and there are some positive aspects to being out here. Frankly, I think it was a nice change from Buffalo.”
Ike and Duda updates: Collins also discussed the progress of first basemen Lucas Duda and Ike Davis, who both remained in Florida to rehabilitate injuries.
“They did their morning workout, they hit, they did their ground balls. Duda is still ahead of Davis. There’s a good chance we’re going to run [Duda] on the bases tomorrow [Sunday]. We’re hoping Monday or Tuesday he’ll be in the lineup.”
Acting manager Bob Geren hoped for Gee to pitch five innings, as Zack Wheeler had done Friday night. But Gee reached his limit after delivering pitch No. 63 -- a leadoff double to Chris Colabello in the fourth.
“That’s not good to go three innings with 65 pitches,” Gee said. “Hopefully during the season I’ll get more innings out of that.”
Left-hander Dana Eveland, a former big leaguer who pitched in Korea, stranded Colabello by retiring three straight Twins. Eveland, 30, ultimately contributed 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He was being borrowed from minor-league camp.
Gee had allowed four singles over the first two innings. His final line: 3 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.
“I didn’t give up any runs. That’s a key,” Gee said. “I didn’t feel that great today. Whatever it was five days ago that made me feel so good wasn’t really there today. I just have to keep working on it. I made big pitches when I had to today in key situations, with guys on base. That was good. ... The changeup felt good. I threw a lot of offspeed pitches behind in the count. That more replicates what’s going to happen during the year.”
How they scored: The Mets got a first-inning solo homer from Chris Young against left-hander Scott Diamond. Daniel Murphy staked the Mets to a 2-0 lead in the third with a sacrifice fly that plated Matt Reynolds. Josh Satin added a fifth-inning RBI single.
Vic Black walked two while loading the bases in the eighth. He then surrendered a two-run single to Eduardo Escobar and run-scoring single by Jermaine Mitchell as Minnesota evened the score at 3.
Zeroing in: Jeurys Familia tossed a scoreless ninth, including breaking the webbing on catcher Taylor Teagarden's glove with one fastball. Familia now has logged five scoreless Grapefruit League innings, having allowed only one hit while striking out four and walking none.
The projected Opening Day bullpen at this point includes Bobby Parnell, Black, Jose Valverde, Carlos Torres, Scott Rice, Familia and John Lannan.
“Two days in a row he threw the ball really well,” Geren said about Familia. “Obviously he threw the ball hard. I think he hit 100 mph out there today. He broke Teagarden’s glove. It went through the web. That’s kind of like a script out of a movie. That’s pretty fun. At first I thought Teagarden missed it. And then he turned around and ran for a new glove.”
Debutant: 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith, an 18-year-old playing high school ball in Los Angeles at this time last year, finished the game at first base. He produced a hit in his first career Grapefruit League at-bat, on an eighth-inning dribbler back up the middle.
“I felt a little bit of nervousness,” Smith said. “Besides that, I was excited.”
Smith, incidentally, has a tattoo on his right forearm that reads: “Your dream.”
He explained: “For me, it means never give up on your dream. You only live once in your life, so no matter how tough it gets, or no matter how hard it gets, especially in baseball, always fight.”
What’s next: Jonathon Niese attempts to move beyond a rough first Grapefruit League start in which a first-pitch fastball registered only 79 mph. The southpaw opposes St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright at 1:05 p.m. Sunday in Jupiter, Fla. Niese is slated to be the Opening Day starter if he proves he is ready for the assignment after missing time early in camp with shoulder weakness.
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