New York Mets catcher Ronny Paulino will make his first start of the season on Sunday night, when the Mets take on the Philadelphia Phillies on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
Paulino will be catching right-hander Chris Young (1-0, 2.65 ERA), who will be opposed by left-hander Cliff Lee (2-2, 4.18).
New York Mets
According to manager Terry Collins, Paulino has not caught Young since spring training.
The last time the two were battery-mates was Mar. 20, when Young threw six scoreless innings against the Florida Marlins in Jupiter.
Collins said he’s very comfortable using backup Josh Thole as a pinch-hitter off the bench, but mentioned that he’d likely go with lefty Daniel Murphy as his first option, depending on matchups.
Speaking of Murphy, Collins said he’s seen a lot of progression from the 26-year-old at second base. Murphy made several good defensive plays in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Philadelphia, included one spectacular diving stab and throw in the eighth inning.
“He’s getting more comfortable with positioning and where he needs to be on things,” Collins said. “I think ground balls were never a factor because he was a good first baseman. I think his mechanics fielding are good. The part that I think he’s been getting better and better at is around the bag. The tags, the double plays, and the more he plays, the more comfortable he’s going to be.”
New York Mets
Collins was asked what Murphy has been doing to become more fluid around the bag.
“Drill, drill, drill,” Collins said. “There’s no other way to do it except that, so it becomes second nature when the game starts and you don’t even think about it. But I signed as a shortstop, and when I went to second base, once you understand that it’s about catching it and getting it in the air, you don’t think about the runner. You really don’t.”
Collins has been impressed by how well Murphy has progressed as far as quickly turning the double play.
“I was concerned for a while, but I’ve watched him and [infield coach] Chip [Hale] has done a really good job with him. Chip’s got him a position when he gets his feet moving, he’s kind of facing the runner a bit, so his leg is no longer on the side, his leg is actually pointed forward. Therefore he won’t have the issue that he had last year.”
Collins said he’s going to continue to use Murphy against right-handers and rookie Justin Turner versus lefties -- for now.
“Tonight I struggled with it a little bit, and I know it could be a fluke, but if you look at the numbers of lefties off Cliff, they’ve hit him this year a little bit,” Collins said. “But the one thing I wanted to make sure I had, that was a guy who could come of the bench in a certain situation and do some damage.”
Lefties are hitting .282 off Lee this season, while righties are batting .218.
First baseman Ike Davis saw his career-high 11-game hitting streak come to an end on Saturday.
However, Davis has been dangerous at the plate in this his second season in the big leagues. He came into Sunday’s action tied for ninth in the National League with 20 RBI.
New York Mets
Collins believes Lee will be a very good test for the 24-year-old lefty slugger, who is batting .214 off southpaws (.388 versus righties).
“I’m impressed with the adjustments he’s made against lefties this year,” Collins said. “I know his average isn’t great, but he’s put some good swings on some left-handers. And this guy is around the plate, so I think if he puts a ball over the plate in the strike zone, I think he can do some damage with it.”
Collins said that reliever Bobby Parnell (numbness in right middle finger) is taking medication to see if the blood clot leaves, and once the sensation does return, he can resume throwing again.
Collins did not have an update on center fielder Angel Pagan (strained left oblique).