Mets morning briefing 5.16.12

May, 16, 2012
5/16/12
2:43
AM ET
David Wright jawed with his manager, Terry Collins, in the dugout, but insisted afterward he was upset in the heat of the moment with the situation, not at his manager. The Mets ultimately lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 8-0, Tuesday at soggy Citi Field. Collins pulled Wright in the bottom of the seventh along with Daniel Murphy, trying to protect the third baseman from getting drilled a half-inning after D.J. Carrasco served up a homer to Rickie Weeks, then plunked Ryan Braun with the next pitch. Wright wanted to stand in the batter's box to take the expected retaliatory blow and end the drama.

"At this level, somebody is going to get hit," Collins said about retaliation, to which the Mets skipper felt the Brewers were entitled. "And it wasn't going to be David Wright tonight. I can't control what's going to happen down the road. He's not going to get hurt in this game, in this situation, tonight."

Please join me for a Mets chat at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday here.

Wednesday's news reports:

• Before the T.C.-Wright dugout spectacle, Dillon Gee had let down the Mets. Gee served up a pair of homers to Travis Ishikawa and was charged with seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. "Mistakes that he makes are in the middle of the plate," Collins said. "I mean, when I took him out of the game, Nicky [catcher Mike Nickeas] said every mistake he made tonight they drilled."

Said Gee: "I don't know. I'm at a loss for words today. I felt good out there. I felt like I made a lot of good pitches. In my mind, I only made a couple of mistakes."

Meanwhile, Murphy extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games before departing the game.

Read game recaps in the Record, Times, Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post summarizes the Wright-Collins argument this way:

Whether [the hit by pitch] was intentional or not isn’t important. Neither is the transaction of removing Wright from the game. This was: Both Collins and Wright care enough about this team and this season as it approaches the quarter pole that they were willing to fill the dugout with noise and rancor, even for a lost cause. They are a fine match, a manager who cares and a player who cares even more.

Read my take here. Columnist Tim Smith in the Daily News also opines on the topic.

• Mayor Michael Bloomberg, MLB commissioner Bud Selig and Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon will participate in a ceremony at City Hall during which the 2013 All-Star Game officially will be awarded to Citi Field. The long-planned event was delayed in being announced for months as MLB worked out contracts with the Javits Convention Center for a fan fest as well as logistics such as NYPD staffing costs for a midtown parade of All-Stars and Central Park concert. You can watch the official announcement live at 11:30 a.m. on the city's web site here. Read more in Newsday, the Times, Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.

• Collins told Anthony McCarron in the Daily News that Jason Bay "absolutely" will get his left-field job back when he returns from the DL after dealing with a fractured rib. Collins acknowledged the challenge will be finding playing time for Kirk Nieuwenhuis as well, but the manager will make it work. “He didn’t come here to be an extra player," Collins told McCarron about Bay. Nieuwenhuis went 0-for-3 Tuesday. He is hitting .294 with two homers, 12 RBIs, 14 walks and 39 strikeouts in 119 at-bats.

Josh Thole was examined Tuesday at Citi Field and expected to imminently gain clearance to begin athletic activities. The catcher said he should learn the results of a concussion test Wednesday. Thole, who suffered what may be the fourth concussion of his professional career nine days ago in a plate collision with Ty Wigginton, said his headaches ended Friday. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News and Newsday.

Jenrry Mejia and Chris Young are slated to move to Triple-A Buffalo to continue their returns from surgeries that both were performed on May 16, 2011. Mejia soon should be exposed to relief work to gauge his ability to contribute at the major league level in that capacity, an organization source told ESPNNewYork.com. Young was due to pitch for Class A St. Lucie on Tuesday night, but the game was rained out. He presumably will pitch Wednesday morning for the Florida State League club before moving to Triple-A.

• A special screening of the Andres Torres-centered documentary "Gigante," about the center fielder's battle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, will be held at NYU School of Medicine (550 First Ave.) on May 31 at 7 p.m. The free event is open to the public, but preregistration is mandatory at yungogigante.eventbrite.com.

• Wright was noncommittal on his receptiveness to discussing a contract in-season if the Mets approached his representatives.

Brian Costa in the Journal profiles sudden pinch-hitter-extraordinaire/local product Mike Baxter. Baxter is hitting .471 (8-for-17) with five RBIs as a pinch hitter this season, including a sixth-inning double Tuesday. The contribution also includes a go-ahead two-run double in the ninth inning Friday at Marlins Park.

Plenty of players have found success in pinch-hit roles, but they tend to be veterans who were starters at one point. Baxter, 27, entered Tuesday with just 58 games of major-league experience and just 10 career starts. "Mike is becoming really good at it in a short window," said Mets third-base coach Tim Teufel, who had 192 pinch-hit appearances during his 11-year major-league career. "Usually for a young player, it takes time. He's taken to the role. He's found a way." The Mets' depth was a perceived weakness going into the season. But despite several injuries, they entered Tuesday with a 20-15 record, thanks in part to some unexpected contributions from players at the fringes of the roster. Players like Baxter.

Michael Salfino in the Journal looks at the Mets' patience at the plate under hitting coach Dave Hudgens. Among the relevant stats: Through Monday, the Mets had seen the most pitches per plate appearance in MLB (3.98), according to Stats LLC, better than runner-up Oakland (3.97) and No. 3 Arizona (3.94). Writes Salfino:

The epitome of the Mets desire to work counts as much as possible, though, is their place as the only team in baseball yet to swing at a 3-0 pitch (70 opportunities). That's widely regarded as the optimal hitter's count. But the Mets clearly don't want to help pitchers work their way out of trouble. New York's patient approach seems to be organization-wide. A spate of injuries have seen four opening day starters head to the disabled list, but replacements Justin Turner (4.22 pitches per plate appearance), Mike Baxter (4.23) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (4.22) have actually improved the Mets average.

• Baseball America projects the Mets taking Louisiana high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini with the 12th overall pick in the draft next month. The magazine also says the Mets have been "strongly linked" to Texas high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins and Texas A&M right-hander Michael Wacha.

Brandon Brown had three RBIs and Dustin Lawley homered as Savannah held on for a 4-3 win at Charleston. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.

• Collins is not a fan of prescribed roles in the bullpen, but the manager said pregame Tuesday that he needs to accept it as part of the evolution of the game. “Guys are here to do certain jobs,” Collins said. “That’s what they’re paid for. That’s what they prepare for. I mean, you have pitchers in the game today who don’t even go to the bullpen until the sixth inning. They’re not even out there. They’re doing stuff in the clubhouse. They’re stretching. They’re getting rubdowns. That’s the way it is and you have to adjust. I don’t have to like it, but I have to accept it.” Writes columnist Mark Bradley in the Star-Ledger:

No one could have blamed Collins if he took a match and some gasoline to his bullpen roles after Francisco blew the lead twice last weekend in Miami, which was potentially damaging to the psyche of his entire team. And when Francisco got into trouble in the ninth inning on Monday, and the fans were letting him hear it, you wondered, was Collins willing to let another one get away? “The one thing I don’t want to do is turn our bullpen inside out because we have a couple of blown saves,” Collins said. “Everybody has blown saves. But if you start changing everybody’s roles, then all of the sudden it’s very uncomfortable for some guys.” And then Collins repeated, “That’s something I’ve come to accept.”

Johan Santana and Chris Capuano appear on columnist Bob Klapisch's list of 10 early season MLB surprises in the Record. Writes Klapisch on Santana:

You don’t dominate hitters with an 88-mph fastball without brains and guts, both of which are still Santana’s most precious currencies. His arm has been rebuilt by surgeons, who couldn’t restore the left-hander’s 94-mph heater of his prime. Still, Santana is so good, he’s averaging more than a strikeout an inning. It’s hard to believe Santana was on the DL for the entire 2011 season. Put it this way: The 2.92 ERA isn’t just surprising, it’s magic.

• SNY will televise its "Yearbook" show for the 1962 season for the first time on Thursday at 8 p.m., Ken Belson writes in the Times. Writes Belson:

To sports fans, the show, which is called “1962 Yearbook,” is a wonderful example of how sports was covered a half-century ago, complete with fawning announcers, eager players and a lack of whiz-bang technology that predominates on sports networks these days. “They were trying to generate interest and enthusiasm among the fans,” said Gary Morgenstern, senior vice president for programming at SNY, said of the show and others that would follow. “They weren’t terribly successful, so it was about getting people to fall in love with the team.” The tapes were discovered in 2008, when the Mets were cleaning out Shea Stadium and moving to Citi Field. The video was not meant to be shown on television. Rather, it was to be used by the team’s sales staff to drum up ticket sales in the off-season.

Miguel Batista remains on target for his next start, despite dealing with a groin issue while tossing seven scoreless innings Monday. He is due to pitch at Toronto on Saturday.

• Mets players already were wearing hockey jerseys in the clubhouse Tuesday, in preparation for a dress-up en route to Toronto after Thursday's homestand finale. Mike Kerwick in the Record spotted R.A. Dickey in a Predators jersey (he lives in Nashville), the Whitestone native Baxter wearing a Rangers jersey, and Nieuwenhuis -- a Denver-area product -- wearing an Avalanche jersey.

TRIVIA: Who hit the homers off Braden Looper to spoil Pedro Martinez's Mets debut in Cincinnati on Opening Day in 2005?

Monday's answer: Gee attended the University of Texas-Arlington.
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
.295 9 53 73
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 27
RBIL. Duda 81
RD. Murphy 73
OPSL. Duda .820
WB. Colon 13
ERAJ. Niese 3.55
SOZ. Wheeler 173