David Wright went 3-for-5 with a homer in his return to the lineup with a fractured right pinkie, Jon Niese tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings and the Mets blanked the Phillies, 5-0, Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets already have clinched the series win. They had been 1-7-1 in their past nine series at Philly. Mike Pelfrey opposes Cole Hamels this afternoon, with the Mets aiming for their first sweep in Philly since June 13-15, 2006.
Today is Jackie Robinson Day across MLB.
Sunday's news reports:
• Terry Collins said that on Friday he believed Wright almost definitely would land on the disabled list this weekend. The Mets even flew in Josh Satin to be prepared for that seeming eventuality. Yet Wright returned to the lineup and blasted his 16th homer at Citizens Bank Park, the most by any visitor at the stadium since it opened in 2004. Read more in Newsday.
• Steven Marcus in Newsday inquires about why the Mets have retired only one player's number -- 41, for Tom Seaver. Casey Stengel's 37 and Gil Hodges' 14 as well as the universally recognized Robinson's 42 also are retired. The Mets placed Gary Carter's No. 8 on the outfield wall for this season -- appearing as it does on the patch on the Mets' uniforms.
"I think the general point of view is we don't want to get to the point where it's somewhat gratuitous and you've got dozens and dozens of people whose numbers are retired,'' Mets executive VP Dave Howard told Marcus. "Historically, from a Mets perspective, this is a very high honor. Certainly from a player standpoint, it's only been Tom Seaver. He's in a class by himself.''
Added Keith Hernandez to Marcus: "Too many teams are retiring too many numbers. They lose their import. So I'm in the camp that it should be something that is special, it shouldn't be marginalized. Who wouldn't want to have their number retired? But it's not something that I think about.''
One obvious number to consider is Mike Piazza's No. 31. Newsday's David Lennon tweeted earlier this year that the Mets are expected to retire Piazza's number after he is inducted into Cooperstown.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News discusses the ramifications of Wright's speedy return and Saturday's series-clinching win. Writes Harper:
Injuries are a delicate subject around the Mets, after all the problems they’ve had in recent years. In some cases they made matters worse by allowing the likes of Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and even Wright last season, with his broken back, to play hurt, so now they tend to proceed with extreme caution. That’s why it was a bit surprising, even for Collins, to hear him say on Wednesday that he had a “gut feeling” Wright would play with his broken finger here on Friday.
Even if it wasn’t the manager’s intent, that put a certain pressure on his star player. If Wright couldn’t play, he would look less than tough, at least in the eyes of many fans who took Collins’ gut feeling to heart. Perhaps that’s why Wright sounded a bit defensive when he couldn’t play on Friday, repeatedly saying he couldn’t “functionally” grip or swing a bat because of the swelling in his finger. But then it felt good enough on Saturday to try it, and in a way he made his manager look like a prophet with his big day that raised his batting average to .588.
• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post writes that Wright's leadership is clear:
David Wright sent a message to his teammates yesterday: Play hard, play through pain, or go home.
• Mike Kerwick in the Record says Citi Field spectators should not boo Jason Bay. Writes Kerwick:
Here's my advice to Mets fans: Shackle your venom. And give the guy some space. Was it just a coincidence that Bay hit no homers in six games at Citi Field, then blasted one during his first at-bat in a visiting park? Possibly. On Friday night, he said the first week of games was not enough to cause his shoulders to slump. But he has also admitted he hears the boos. Bay is a decent person. And most decent people sag when exposed to this degree of enmity. I can't help but think the booing, on some subconscious level, penetrates his psyche.
• Bobby Parnell recorded the ensuing four outs after Niese departed, including covering the eighth inning for a second straight day. Between the Grapefruit League and regular season, Parnell has not allowed a run in 17 1/3 innings. Read more in the Record.
• In the court filings made late Friday regarding the settlement of the lawsuit against Fred Wilpon and family over Bernard Madoff accounts, one reason trustee Irving Picard cited for settling was the Mets owners' tight finances made getting more money via further litigation dicey. Writes Anthony M. Destefano in Newsday:
In federal court filings late Friday night, trustee Irving Picard said the "restrictive" cash flow, as well as the owners' obligations to banks that lent them money, contributed to doubts that further litigation against Fred Wilpon , Saul Katz and their partners in Sterling Equities would produce a bigger payout. "We have become satisfied that defendants' cash flow and lender covenants would not have enabled me to recover more for the [Madoff] customer fund in the foreseeable future by litigating to the point of judgment," Picard said in an affidavit. The settlement "is a practical and fair compromise" that avoided "a protracted and expensive trial and lengthy appeals," Picard explained in a statement.
Richard Sandomir in the Times also notes the trustee's language in expressing concern about collecting debt from the Wilpons.
• Domingo Tapia tossed seven scoreless innings as Savannah won via shutout for the second straight day. Read the full minor league recap here.
• On the club's 50th anniversary, there is an excerpt in the Daily News about the creation of the Mets from the book, "The Mets: A 50th Anniversary Celebration," written by Andy Martino and Anthony McCarron.
TRIVIA: Johan Santana and Niese started the Mets' two shutouts at Citizens Bank Park. Which Mets pitcher started the last shutout at Veterans Stadium, the home of the Phillies through 2003?
Saturday's answer: Jason Bay's homer Friday against Cliff Lee was the outfielder's 19th long ball as a Met.