Mets morning briefing 7.28.12

July, 28, 2012
7/28/12
6:23
AM ET
PHOENIX -- Jon Niese matched a career high by allowing eight runs, wasting homers by David Wright and Ike Davis, as the Mets lost to the Diamondbacks, 11-5, Friday night at Chase Field.

The Mets, who are now 2-12 since the All-Star break, send Chris Young (2-4, 3.91 ERA) to the mound Saturday. He opposes Ian Kennedy (8-8, 4.20) in the 8:10 p.m. ET game.

Saturday's news reports:

• Niese lamented an ill-advised and errant throw he made after fielding a squibber in what became a six-run second inning. Read game recaps in the Times, Record, Post, Newsday and Daily News.

Jason Bay slammed his right knee into a wall in foul territory making an inning-ending catch in the second on Jason Kubel's pop fly. Afterward, Bay had the knee wrapped, but minimized the injury. Terry Collins told Mike Puma in the Post that Mike Baxter eventually could supplant Bay as the regular left fielder.

• Top prospect Zack Wheeler is due to be promoted within the week to Triple-A. Team officials were debating whether Wheeler should start on the road for the Bisons, or make one more start with Double-A Binghamton so that his International League debut could come in Buffalo next weekend against Syracuse.

The Mets have no current plans to use Wheeler at the major league level this season, but columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post thinks that should be reconsidered. Writes Kernan:

Though general manager Sandy Alderson has said Wheeler would not appear in The Show this season, the good news is the Mets, according to sources, constantly are reevaluating the situation and the decision could be reversed.

Terry Collins is prepared to use R.A. Dickey on short rest assuming Sandy Alderson signs off. But the increased frequency of Dickey starts will not be implemented until the Mets return home from this three-city West Coast trip, a team insider told ESPNNewYork.com.

Matt Harvey said he awoke Friday morning and already had put his major league debut behind him. Harvey said his focus now is squarely on Tuesday's encore performance, which comes in San Francisco.

Keith Law liked what he viewed from Harvey on Thursday. Wrote Law at ESPN.com Insider:

Matt Harvey had top-of-the-rotation stuff on Thursday night in Arizona, with a plus fastball and slider combination that carved up Arizona Diamondbacks hitters. He was 94-98 mph for five innings with some arm-side run, hard enough to get it by hitters even though the pitch lacks any sink or downhill plane. The slider was toxic at 87-91 mph, a grade-70 pitch pretty much all outing, shorter like a cutter and breaking very late. He threw it down and in to left-handers in lieu of his changeup, which was solid at 87-89 mph with good arm speed but which he barely used.

He was casting his curveball early in the game but did throw several sharper ones, all 83-85 mph and when it was on, it was not only tough to hit but a pitch he could also throw for strikes. I've never seen Harvey throw this hard or with a slider this sharp, so he may have just been amped up for his first big league start, but if this is the 'new' Matt Harvey, Mets fans should be even more excited than they were before.

Harvey's delivery, a major weakness of his before his junior year in college, is even cleaner now than it was when he was drafted. He stays over the rubber longer than he did then, still gets out over his front side very well and gets his arm, always quick, into perfect position when his front foot lands. He did lose his arm slot in the sixth inning on Thursday and was no longer able to command the fastball, which the Mets' coaching staff picked up on pretty quickly, letting him face one more right-handed batter before pulling him.

Read more on Harvey in the Star-Ledger, Times, Daily News and Newsday.

• The Tigers, reportedly along with the Braves and Giants, have expressed interest in Scott Hairston. A team source told ESPNNewYork.com no trades were imminent, and added that any trade likely would have to return a player the Mets would control in 2013. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Frank Francisco allowed a leadoff double but picked up a save Thursday for Binghamton in his second rehab appearance with the Eastern League club. B-Mets manager Pedro Lopez told Lynn Worthy of the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin that Francisco again will appear with the B-Mets on Saturday. Baxter, meanwhile, went 1-for-4 and played a full game in left field with Buffalo. Both players are expected to be activated from the DL for the Mets series at San Francisco, which opens Monday.

Miguel Batista, released by the Mets this week, signed a minor league deal with the Braves and has been assigned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

• Dickey and Jon Rauch, both former Olympians, expressed disappointment the sport has been eliminated for the London Games, along with softball. "Baseball has long been one of those fringe sports in the Olympics," Dickey told Brian Costa in the Journal. "It is sad and I hate it. I wish it were different. But the truth of the matter is it doesn't hold the international acclaim in different counties that it does here, and because of that, you have to deal with it."

Mets first base coach Tom Goodwin also participated in the Olympics as a player, in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea.

Writes Anthony DiComo at MLB.com:

When he was an Olympic athlete in 1996, R.A. Dickey attended every event that he could. He was "front and center" when injured gymnast Kerri Strug stuck the landing on her final vault, helping the American women win gold in Atlanta. He was there when sprinter Michael Johnson set an Olympic record in the 400 meters. He attended the Opening Ceremonies alongside the men's basketball Dream Team. "I went to water-polo events, track-and-field events," Dickey said Friday, with the 2012 Opening Ceremonies in London airing on a clubhouse television behind him, "I just really tried to experience that part of it, and it was awesome."

The Olympics meant just as much to Rauch, whose gold medal from the 2000 Games spends most of its days locked away in a safe. Rauch said he continues to keep in touch with as many of his Olympic teammates as he can, though most are long retired from their playing days. "Being around the whole environment of the Opening Ceremonies, winning a gold medal -- pick something," said Rauch, who has an image of the Olympic rings tattooed on his left arm. "When you're involved in something like that, especially when it's your first time, your only time, you just remember all of it."

Dustin Martin's three-run homer and five-hit day helped lift Binghamton to a doubleheader sweep against Portland. Read Friday's full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: Which pitchers have recorded saves for the Mets this season?

Friday's answer: Jon Matlack is the former first-round pick to have the longest major league debut as a Met. Matlack tossed seven innings and allowed two runs in a no-decision against the Reds on July 11, 1971.
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

WINS LEADER
Jenrry Mejia
WINS ERA SO IP
3 1.99 25 22
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Wright .284
HRL. Duda 4
RBID. Wright 12
RE. Young Jr. 16
OPSL. Duda .850
ERAJ. Mejia 1.99
SOJ. Mejia 25

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