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Mets morning briefing 9.13.11

9/13/2011

The Mets lost to the Washington Nationals, 3-2, on Monday night. Afterward, Terry Collins suggested the first-responder hat saga had put the players on pins and needles and affected their play.

Tuesday's news reports:

• Player rep Josh Thole said he already has asked the union to try to get guidelines in place that would allow for the first-responder hats to be worn on Sept. 11, 2012 -- no matter if the Mets are at home or on the road.

Major League Baseball disputed the allegation heavy fines would have been levied, and even players said no first-responder hats were confiscated by MLB. An authenticator from MLB collected hats from players who decided to turn those over, without any strong-arm tactics. The authenticator is there seemingly every game to document game-used items that can later be sold (for charity of profit, depending on the situation). David Wright wore a first-responder cap on the bench in-game and said it was not confiscated from him.

Jeff Wilpon was on the phone with MLB even Sunday imploring them to allow the Mets to wear the hats, but the policy was reiterated to the chief operating officer. Still, the Mets could have elected to violate the policy -- likely without consequence -- and did not. There were strong rumblings the Mets' desire to stay in MLB's good graces (for obvious reasons) was a factor. Read more in Newsday, the Post, Record, Star-Ledger and Daily News.

Jose Reyes' hitting streak ended at 14 games with an 0-for-4 performance. His average dipped to .329, two points behind now-NL batting leader Ryan Braun of Milwaukee.

Brian Costa in The Wall Street Journal looks at Reyes' career-high .372 on-base percentage, which is at least 14 points better than any other season. Writes Costa:

At the heart of Reyes' season is an almost unparalleled ability to make contact with the ball. He has connected on 90.2% of the pitches he has swung at, according to the baseball statistics site FanGraphs.com, the third-highest rate among NL hitters with at least 500 plate appearances. "There are certain guys, when they swing the bat, they hit the baseball," manager Terry Collins said. ... That has helped him cut his strikeout rate to a career-low 7%. But more importantly, it has enabled him to more fully utilize his speed. When he puts the ball in play, he has reached base 35% of the time, the ninth-highest rate in the league. Some of that may be attributable to luck, but much of it is no doubt attributable to his speed.

Read more on Reyes in the Star-Ledger.

• Yankees catching phenom Jesus Montero could have been a Met, but the Amazin's opted for a cheaper option in Tony Pena's son Francisco Pena out of the Dominican Republic that winter, while the Yankees handed Montero a $1.7 million signing bonus.

David Waldstein in the Times recalls Montero trying out for Mets brass in Port St. Lucie, Fla., as a 16-year-old. Montero was trying to throw out a stealing then-Mets farmhand Carlos Gomez at second base, but jumped out too quickly, and when a bat shattered, there was a fear Montero had broken his hand. X-rays turned out negative. “A lot of pain,” Montero recalled to Waldstein about the incident. “The bat broke in pieces, and I thought I broke my hand, too. I was scared. I thought I would be out for a long time and I wanted to show everyone what I could do.”

The 21-year-old Pena, by the way, hit .223 in 95 games for Class A St. Lucie this season.

• Savannah, the lone remaining Mets minor league affiliate still alive, was one out away from a Game 1 win in the South Atlantic League playoffs. Instead, the Sand Gnats squandered two homers from University of Tennessee product Blake Forsythe and suffered a walk-off loss to Greensboro.

Chris Schwinden, despite a high innings count this season, will get starts in place of Miguel Batista as a way to gauge his readiness for a 2012 contribution. "He's had a long season, but we ultimately have to take another look at him," Collins said about Schwinden.

R.A. Dickey tossed his 10th straight quality start in the loss. It's the longest streak by a Met since Johan Santana finished the 2008 season with 14 straight. Read game recaps in Newsday and the Daily News.

Jason Bay was named National League Player of the Week. Wright received the honor the previous week. The last time the Mets earned the award consecutive weeks was in June 2006, when Reyes and Wright shared one award, then Reyes won the following week.

Andrew Keh in the Times looks at bullpen newcomers Josh Stinson and Daniel Herrera. “Terry’s put me in some decent spots, and I’ve been doing the job pretty well,” Herrera told Keh. “But it’s only been a handful of outings.”

BIRTHDAY: Former reliever Grant Roberts turns 34. He has been an assistant coach for fellow ex-Met Mackey Sasser at Wallace Community College in Dothan-Eufala, Ala.