Mets morning briefing 8.4.11

August, 4, 2011
8/04/11
9:13
AM ET
Wednesday's Mets game against the Marlins was postponed by rain. No makeup date was announced. Florida has another three-game series scheduled for Flushing from Aug. 30-Sept. 1.

After a team off-day Thursday, the Mets play host to the Atlanta Braves this weekend. Dillon Gee, Wednesday's original starter, slots in Sunday, after R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese take their originally scheduled turns. Mike Pelfrey gets bumped from Sunday against Atlanta to Monday against San Diego as a result of the rainout.

The Mets trail the wild-card-leading Braves by eight games. Read the series preview here.

Thursday's news reports:

Johan Santana is due to be examined in New York on Thursday after experiencing discomfort in his surgically repaired left shoulder.

Terry Collins said the Mets seem more uptight at home than on the road. His staff met to discuss the team's relative success away from New York to see if any conclusions could be drawn, such as whether they were unintentionally doing different pregame work on the road. The Mets are 0-9 this season in homestand openers. They are 22-28 at home and 33-27 away from Citi Field.

"Our guys are so much more relaxed on the road than they are at home," Collins said. "You sense it when you walk through the clubhouse." Colllins did not say an environment with booing/negativity is fertile ground for growth, as did predecessor Jerry Manuel.

Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Post and Record.

• Gee will be honored in Brooklyn on Thursday night. His No. 20 will be added to MCU Park's ring of honor, joining fellow former Cyclones Angel Pagan, Brian Bannister and Danny Garcia.

Lucas Duda has three homers in his past 26 at-bats, after going homerless in his first 116 at-bats this season at the major league level. Collins tells Dave Hutchinson in the Star-Ledger: “With his strength, if he makes consistent, solid contact, he’s going to hit a lot of home runs. I don’t care what park he plays in. He’s like (Florida's Mike) Stanton. They’re both big and strong guys. I think Lucas, when he first got here, his thought process was to not try to hit the ball out of the ballpark but to put a good swing on the ball. I think that was all in the process of gaining some confidence at this level.”

• Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff notes the 2010 Mets, like the current edition, were 55-55 after 110 games. So why the fan negativity last year and good vibes this year -- even the perception this team is more fundamentally sound, despite a rash of recent errors? Davidoff writes:

Encouraging: Let's start with the most obvious. The Mets are far better run than they were a year ago at this time. Sandy Alderson knows what he's doing when it comes to baseball operations, and he has the full backing (and minimal meddling) from ownership. Discouraging: Front-office savvy doesn't translate instantly to on-the-field brilliance. Even during this current four-game losing streak, we've seen critical fielding misplays by Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy and a baserunning snafu by Jon Niese.

Andrew Keh in the Times looks at the fielding ability of Daniel Murphy. Assuming Ike Davis is back healthy in 2012, the logical answer for Murphy's position next year is probably second base, with Justin Turner as more of a role player who could start against some southpaws at the position. Murphy would benefit defensively from actually being able to concentrate at one position. Remember, he's been asked to play first base, second base, third base and left field during his brief major league career.

Broadcaster Keith Hernandez tells Keh: “I don’t want it to feel like I’m burying him here, but his instincts are not good. He makes too many mistakes on an almost daily basis.”

Murphy has shown an ability to field balls at first base and aggressively catch lead runners at third base, though. "What ends up happening -- whether you’re a commentator, a fan, a coach -- is that you don’t look at the big picture of how many plays he has made, how many outstanding instinctual plays he’s made,” infield coach Chip Hale said. “But they don’t talk about that. They talk about the mistakes.”

• 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey might be winless since moving to Double-A, but he struck out Nats phenom Bryce Harper twice in their encounter this week and Wally Backman is singing the praises of Harvey and fellow right-hander Jeurys Familia, who just returned from the disabled list with Binghamton. (Some scouts project Familia as a reliever). Writes Daily News columnist John Harper:

Binghamton manager Wally Backman is already on record as calling Familia's curveball the best he has seen since a young Dwight Gooden. Now he sounds ready to include Harvey, last year's No. 1 draft pick out of North Carolina, in the same conversation. "He got 16 swings at curveballs in his last start," Backman was saying over the phone Wednesday, "and not one of them even made contact. I know it's Double-A, but this kid has a big-league, swing-and-miss curveball. ... Bryce Harper is the real thing, believe me, but Harvey made him look so bad with that curveball. He struck him out twice with it, and honest to God, the guy swung over one of them by at least a foot."

David Wright tells Dan Martin in the Post that he will probably have to do less weight training for the remainder of his career as a result of suffering the stress fracture in his lower back. "I haven't been able to do the things in the weight room that I normally do and I think that's gonna be a good thing going forward," Wright told Martin. "I'm definitely looking at doing less down the road, too. I'm gonna have to do less, pretty much forever -- but that's fine."

Andy Martino in the Daily News looks at how Collins manages a clubhouse -- trying to keep the players' respect and attention for 162 games rather than have them tune him out because he goes ballistic or criticizes too often. Writes Martino:

Justin Turner was sitting at his locker Tuesday night, minutes after his error led to a Mets loss, when Terry Collins strode toward him. Gulp. How was this going to go? Would the manager whose team had lost four consecutive games yell, scold, threaten -- what? Nope. He would teach. "He sat down next to me, and just talked the play over," Turner said before Wednesday night's game was postponed due to rain. The previous night, he attempted to tag a runner off first base in the ninth inning, rather than throw home for the force out, then chucked the ball wide of first.

• Post columnist Kevin Kernan writes that it's time for Bobby Parnell to assume the closer's role.

BIRTHDAYS: Joe Pignatano, a member of the '62 Mets and Brooklyn native, turns 82. ... Cleon Jones, who hit .340 for the '69 Mets, was born on this date in 1942. ... Former manager Dallas Green turns 77. He is now a top advisor to GM Ruben Amaro with the Phillies.
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.299 9 52 70
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 23
RBIL. Duda 69
RD. Murphy 70
OPSL. Duda .841
WB. Colon 11
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.48
SOZ. Wheeler 148