Morning Briefing: Happy Wheeler Day!

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
6:23
AM ET

Adam RubinA day after Noah Syndergaard took the mound, Zack Wheeler pitches for the Mets on Tuesday.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: Happy Wheeler Day!

Zack Wheeler makes his 2014 Grapefruit League debut opposite left-hander Rudy Owens as the Mets host the Houston Astros on Tuesday at 1:10 p.m. (SNY).

Also listed to pitch: Kyle Farnsworth, John Church, Vic Black, Adam Kolarek, Scott Rice and Cory Mazzoni.

Bill Parcells is expected to attend the game.

Wheeler is lined up to pitch the season’s fourth game, the opener of the second series against the Cincinnati Reds on April 4 at Citi Field.

Terry Collins, incidentally, says David Wright and Daniel Murphy should see their first Grapefruit League action at the end of this week. Both have been held out of the first several Grapefruit League games to minimize the risk of suffering side-muscle issues that arose in previous spring trainings.

Tuesday’s news reports:

• Noah Syndergaard dialed his fastball up to 98 mph to strike out leadoff hitter Jason Heyward and limited the Atlanta Braves to one single in two scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut as the accolades continued to pile up for the top prospect.

"Harvey’s Harvey," Braves outfielder Justin Upton told reporters. “But [Syndergaard] and Wheeler are definitely a very close second.”

Read new stories on Syndergaard in the Times, Post, Daily News, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com. Read columnists’ positive reviews from Joel Sherman in the Post, David Lennon in Newsday, Bob Klapsich in the Record and Phil Rogers at MLB.com.


Courtesy of New York MetsCory Vaughn produced a tiebreaking two-run double in a fifth-run ninth Monday.


• Cory Vaughn had a tiebreaking two-run double in a five-run ninth as the Mets got off the schneid with the 6-2 win against Atlanta at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Ike Davis was scratched from Monday’s trip with tightness in his calves, but Terry Collins has Davis as well as Ruben Tejada (hamstring) and Eric Young Jr. (side muscle) penciled into Tuesday’s lineup against the Astros. Lucas Duda departed Monday’s game with tight legs, according to Collins. Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.

Mike Piazza is serving as a guest instructor in Port St. Lucie this week, marking his first time working for the Mets since his playing days. Travis d’Arnaud, who grew up idolizing Piazza with the Los Angeles Dodgers, is particularly thrilled. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.

Johan Santana reportedly is poised to sign a minor-league deal with the Baltimore Orioles. He likely will not be ready to pitch in the majors until June after a second shoulder surgery. Read more in the Baltimore Sun.

• SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt has been named the Los Angeles-based pregame host for Fox’s Saturday baseball telecasts. Steve Gelbs primarily will fill in when Burkhardt has conflicts with weekend Fox duties. Burkhardt also calls NFL games for the network. He is in the final year of his contract with SNY as a field reporter. Read more in the Times and Newsday.

Dillon Gee has been named to an advisory board for the Taylor Hooton Foundation. The group aims to dissuade young people from using performance-enhancing drugs. Read more in the Daily News.

Matt Harvey will attempt to toss a baseball on consecutive days this week, marking his first time throwing back-to-back since Tommy John surgery, he told the Daily News’ Kristie Ackert.

• Instant replay will be tested at four Mets spring-training games at Tradition Field: this Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals as well as March 15, 18 and 23. Jayson Stark at ESPN.com reports on the first replay challenge in MLB, which came Monday.

• The Mets agreed to contract terms with all 26 of their players who are on the 40-man roster and lacking the service time to be eligible for arbitration. Translation: That’s a formality, since the Mets can set those players’ salaries at any level the club desires, as long as it is at least the $500,000 MLB minimum.

Once every several years, as a protest, a young player will refuse to sign the contract and instead will be “renewed” by the Mets. That’s what occurred with Wright during spring training in 2006, when the Mets set his salary at $374,000 -- only $47,000 over that season’s major-league minimum. Wright had hit .306 with 27 homers and 102 RBIs the previous season, in his first full year in the majors.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear is intrigued by what Piazza offers as an instructor, if not as excited by what he produced as an author. … John Delcos at Mets Report wonders if Fred Wilpon will provide the necessary funds this summer if the Mets need to add a piece. … NY Mets Life ponders whether the Mets have really improved this offseason.

BIRTHDAYS: Tom Grieve, who played one season for the Mets, was born on this date in 1948.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will Noah Syndergaard win NL Rookie of the Year?
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
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
8 4.12 95 126
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .287
HRL. Duda 15
RBIL. Duda 50
RD. Murphy 57
OPSL. Duda .841
ERAJ. Niese 3.13
SOZ. Wheeler 112