PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.
FIRST PITCH: Jenrry Mejia makes his final pitch for a rotation spot when the Mets play their first game in Montreal in a decade.
Here's a view of Olympic Stadium back on Sept. 29, 2004 -- before the final home game in the Expos' existence.
“We were talking, and he told me that he was competing,” ex-Met Jose Reyes told ESPN’s Marley Rivera in Spanish, referring to Mejia’s fifth-starter’s race with Daisuke Matsuzaka. “I told him, ‘My brother, stay with your head high and continue to compete.’
"He told me that he was pitching one of the days in Montreal, and he told me, ‘Careful what you’re going to do to me.’ And I told him that I was not yet sure if I was going to play [because of a hamstring injury], but now I think I'm going to be in the lineup. I told him, ‘I would like to wish you the best, because the talent is there.’ He has been strong despite having several injuries.”
Ten years ago, David Wright hit his first big-league homer at OIympic Stadium. It came in a 19-10 loss to the Montreal Expos in Wright’s sixth carer game -- a solo shot in the second inning against John Patterson, on July 26, 2004.
So the lone official decisions yet to be announced -- aside from Matsuzaka versus Mejia -- are Andrew Brown versus Eric Campbell for an extra bench spot and Omar Quintanilla versus Anthony Seratelli for the backup-shortstop role. Brown and Quintanilla appear likely to prevail.
Friday’s news reports:
• Jonathon Niese tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings against St. Louis Cardinals A-ball players Thursday and said he felt “amazing.” The performance came nine days after the southpaw received a cortisone injection in his left elbow.
That allays some concern about whether Niese will be ready to come off the disabled list April 6 to face the Cincinnati Reds. So perhaps the Mets can just choose Mejia or Matsuzaka from the start of the season and not need serious roster maneuvering. The expectation continues to be Matsuzaka, who faces the Jays on Saturday, ultimately will settle into the big-league rotation.
Meanwhile, Mejia has a bunion issue on the side of his right big toe that Terry Collins suggested may be a factor in the fifth-starter selection.
Matsuzaka, reacting to being handed $100,000 on Tuesday to delay the decision, said he has come to expect the unexpected in his U.S. career.
• EY Jr. played an inning at shortstop Thursday.
• Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson in the Times delve into the Mets’ finances.
• An engineer who prepares environmental-impact studies implores New York City’s mayor to stop the eminent-domain proceedings of land around Citi Field in an op-ed in the Daily News.
• Olympic Stadium, which normally hosts Major League Soccer, needed some major tinkering to get ready to host baseball, Brenda Branswell writes in the Montreal Gazette. One concern: The roof isn't in perfect condition, so a few inches of snow would have resulted in cancellation of the event. A light snow/rain is expected Friday afternoon. There are 35,000 to 40,000 people expected per game.
• Tom Signore, who was ticketed for the Brooklyn Cyclones, will begin the season as Triple-A Las Vegas’ pitching coach. He will fill in for Frank Viola, who is due to undergo open-heart surgery Wednesday.
• Prospect Cory Mazzoni departed Thursday’s Grapefruit League finale with a triceps injury in the second inning.
• Tim Teufel’s son Shawn, a left-handed pitcher, was among Thursday’s cuts from minor-league camp. So was Alonzo Harris, who played for Double-A Binghamton last season. Harris quickly signed with the Miami Marlins.
• Mets executive VP Lou DePaoli tells Steven Marcus in Newsday that Opening Day will sell out at Citi Field.
“The game will definitely sell out,” DePaoli told Marcus. “We are pacing significantly ahead of last year. As of right now, there are roughly less than a thousand seats available. We’re going to be opening standing room only.
“Overall, our Opening Day sales are way ahead of what they were last year. You’ve got to think the fact that maybe people have been cooped up a little bit and want to get out, they’re excited to get back outside.”
• Brian Costa in the Journal is not bullish about the 2014 Mets. Writes Costa:
This feels like a sequel to a movie that didn’t draw rave reviews to begin with. Harvey, who is expected to miss the entire season coming off elbow surgery, plays the role of last year’s Johan Santana: the ace in rehab. Syndergaard becomes last year’s Wheeler: the dynamic arm whose arrival will be delayed by baseball’s self-defeating financial incentives to keep top prospects out of the majors until midseason.
Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada return as themselves, despite the Mets’ best efforts. The questions about their ability to become part of the team’s core group of position players are the same, if not louder, than they were before. Only now the three are a year older and the Mets’ patience is wearing thinner.
• A Manhattan federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday by a man who claimed volunteers at the All-Star Game’s FanFest ought to have been paid, writes Rich Calder in the Post.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear contrasts big-leaguers' first games with the uncertainty attached to their last.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
So I guess planes get flat tires too #delayed
— Anthony Seratelli (@ars1productions) March 27, 2014
YOU’RE UP: Should Montreal get another chance at an MLB team?