Morning Briefing: For opener, it's Gee

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
5:34
AM ET

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsDillon Gee, who faces the Twins on Friday, also is scheduled to pitch on Opening Day.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets take a three-hour drive to Fort Myers on Friday to face the Minnesota Twins, with the buses scheduled to roll out of the Port St. Lucie complex at 7:15 a.m.

Dillon Gee opposes Ricky Nolasco in the 1:05 p.m. game (no Mets TV or radio).

Lucas Duda is scheduled to start at first base in his first Grapefruit League action since injuring his left hamstring March 3. Ike Davis -- who returned to action Thursday, going 0-for-3 and logging six innings at first base -- is due to DH against the Twins.

Friday’s news reports:

• Gee is slated to become the 23rd different Opening Day starter in Mets history. He is due to oppose Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg on March 31 at Citi Field.

After ESPNNewYork.com reported the Mets’ intent to give Gee the honor, Terry Collins all but confirmed it Thursday afternoon. The manager cited Gee’s success against the Nats (4-2, 2.72 ERA in 2013) and Gee’s 31 overall wins spanning the past three seasons, which rank second only to Jonathon Niese (32) with the club during that span.

The Mets plan to place Niese on the disabled list to open the season, ESPNNewYork.com has learned. Niese, who received a cortisone shot in his left elbow Monday to address inflammation, should come off the DL on the seventh day of the season, to face the Cincinnati Reds in the April 6 homestand finale.

The expectation is Bartolo Colon will start Game 2 and Zack Wheeler will start Game 3 against Washington. Daisuke Matsuzaka should handle the opener against Cincinnati on April 4. Gee then would get the second game against the Reds before Niese’s first start arrives.

Read more in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.


Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesA calf injury has slowed Daniel Murphy.


Daniel Murphy jammed his right calf stepping on second base while doubling Sunday and has been out for four straight days. Collins believes Murphy, who missed time earlier in camp with a right-shin issue, should be back in the Grapefruit League lineup Saturday. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Sandy Alderson offered mostly predictable responses while speaking with media members late Thursday.

The GM expects both Davis and Duda to be on the Opening Day roster. Still, ESPNNewYork.com has reported that Alderson is checking in with GMs with whom he had trade discussions regarding Davis during the winter.

“I think you have to be a little more cautious and maybe not do something that has forever implications," Alderson told reporters, downplaying expectations of a trade.

Alderson added that he has not spoken with Scott Boras recently about Stephen Drew. He also noted that Juan Lagares and Eric Young Jr. both should get playing time in the outfield, as ESPNNewYork.com previously has reported.

“We haven’t had a problem with too many good players over the last couple of years, so if we have that problem over the next week or so, it’s a good thing -- somewhat unique for us,” Alderson told reporters.

Read more in the Record.

• The likelihood seems to be that Davis and Josh Satin platoon to start the season. In that scenario, Duda would be on the roster as a lefty threat for the bench, with strategic starts at first base and possibly the outfield, although his hamstring injury has prevented the Mets from giving Duda reps out there. The Mets also will need a DH the second week of the season for an interleague series in Anaheim. Officially, Collins says the first-base winner may be the one who is most healthy.

Read more on Davis and Duda in the Post, Daily News, Times, Journal, Newsday and Star-Ledger.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post advocates signing Drew. Writes Kernan:

Life could be made a lot easier if the Mets went out and signed free agent Stephen Drew, but there appears to be no play in that direction in their frugal neighborhood. Five of the six shortstops who played on division-winning teams last season had a WAR of 3.0 or better. Drew was one of those players, with a 3.4 WAR.

The Mets have stated 90 wins as their goal this season, which should make a World Series championship shortstop even that much more enticing.

• On the likelihood of the Arizona Diamondbacks trading Didi Gregorius and the Seattle Mariners trading Nick Franklin, columnist Joel Sherman writes in the Post:

The price tags still are high for Franklin and Gregorius -- the Royals, for example, tried to land Franklin in the offseason, thought the cost in prospects was too high and instead gave a four-year, $32 million pact to Omar Infante. Both Franklin, who is expected to lose a Seattle shortstop battle to Brad Miller, and Gregorius, who is expected to lose to Chris Owings, can be optioned to the minors.

And executives from both teams have told me they can wait to see what needs arise during the regular season and use their bullets then. However, an official from an interested club said once players lose a positional battle and are sent to the minors, it is harder to sell them having extravagant value. So there could be some pressure on those clubs -- beyond their win-now status -- to make moves sooner than later.

Anthony Recker belted a walk-off three-run homer against Atlanta Braves left-hander Eric Pfisterer as the Mets won, 7-6, Thursday at Tradition Field. Wheeler allowed a pair of first-inning runs, but eventually tossed 75 pitches over 5 1/3 quality innings and departed with a 4-2 lead. Lagares had a stellar catch at the wall to deprive Justin Upton of an extra-base hit. Lagares later was drilled in the left shoulder with a pitch while squaring to bunt and departed the game. Read more at MLB.com.

• Collins batted the pitcher eighth Thursday, which he may also do in-season if the Nos. 1 and 2 hitters are not successfully getting on base enough ahead of David Wright.

Matt Harvey, who has been throwing on flat ground at 60 feet since getting cleared to pick up a baseball, plans to increase the distance to 75 feet Friday.

• Wheeler wants to be the Opening Day starter in 2015, Kristie Ackert writes in the Daily News.

• Richard Justice at MLB.com speaks with Wright.

• Las Vegas 51s owners are having trouble getting public financing for a proposed new stadium in the area, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The Mets’ player-development agreement with the 51s expires after this season, but the sides may have to remain in a shotgun marriage for at least two more seasons after that because no other Triple-A cities may become available for the Mets.

• The low-A Savannah Sand Gnats received their 2013 South Atlantic League championship rings during a morning ceremony Thursday at Tradition Field.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing gives more thought to Harvey and the media. … Rising Apple contributors pick their most likely Mets to disappoint in 2014.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets shortstop Shawon Dunston, a first-round pick by the Chicago Cubs out of Brooklyn in 1982, turns 51.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Is Dillon Gee the best choice for Opening Day starter?
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
.289 9 57 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187