Morning Briefing: Mets-Phillies on tap


FIRST PITCH: After a day off Monday, the Mets open a two-game series in Philly on Tuesday night to kick off a three-city trip. There also will be stops in Denver and Miami.

Jonathon Niese (1-2, 2.45 ERA) opposes left-hander Cole Hamels (0-1, 3.00) in the 7:05 p.m. opener.

The series could help David Wright heat up. He is a .302 hitter with 19 homers in 82 career games at Citizens Bank Park.

Read the Mets-Phillies series preview here.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Juan Lagares manned center field for Las Vegas on Monday night as the Triple-A phase of his rehab assignment began. Lagares is returning from a pulled right hamstring. He figures to join the Mets sometime during the Rockies series, which begins Thursday.

• Frank Viola, who underwent open-heart surgery to address an enlarged aorta, tells the Daily News: “I was overweight. I was eating wrong. I’ve lost 19 pounds since the surgery. I have never felt as good as I do right now.” Viola had been slated to open the season as Las Vegas pitching coach before the issue was flagged during his spring-training medical screening.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post reviews who won and lost the offseason. On the Mets’ signing of Curtis Granderson, Sherman writes:

The Mets hoped Curtis Granderson could be a cleanup-hitting force behind David Wright. But he already has lost that role, and with one homer, 28 strikeouts and an NL-low .129 average, he is drawing Jason Bay comparisons. Not good.

Travis d’Arnaud appears to be heating up after opening the season hitless in his first 16 at-bats, writes Greg Logan in Newsday. D’Arnaud is hitting .364 (8-for-22) in his past seven games.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal notes Mets pitchers are 0-for-41 at the plate this season. Writes Diamond:

Since at least 1974 -- as far back as Stats LLC tracks such curiosities -- no pitching staff has opened a season with a longer stretch of futility. The Atlanta Braves' pitchers started 0-for-39 in 2008 and 2011, setting the previous standard. There is, of course, a decent chance that the Mets' hitless streak to open 2014 is the worst of all time.

• The Mets arrive in Philly with a 14-11 record and soaring confidence. Read more in the Post.

• Brian Lewis in the Post notes the Mets have 24 steals and have allowed only five this season.

• The Mets are 6-0 in games started by backup catcher Anthony Recker. Michael J. Fensom catches up Recker in the Star-Ledger.

• Read more on Niese in the Daily News.

• Brandon Nimmo went 4-for-4 with a homer as St. Lucie beat Charlotte, 7-3. A day after leaving Vegas' game with a jammed finger, Wilmer Flores was able to pinch hit. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Las Vegas’ Eric Campbell was named Pacific Coast League Player of the Week. Campbell, an eighth-round pick in 2008 out of Boston College, hit .500 (11-for-22) with seven RBIs for the week. He played five different positions -- first base, second base, shortstop, third base and left field.

• Catcher Carlos Ruiz, whose Phillies now face the Mets, was named NL Player of the Week. Ruiz is hitting .500 (11-for-22) with six extra-base hits, seven RBIs and eight runs scored in his past six games.

Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and will undergo surgery Tuesday that is expected to sideline him into July.

From the bloggers … MetsMinors.net chats with second-base prospect Dilson Herrera.

BIRTHDAYS: Omir Santos, who once homered against Jonathon Papelbon at Fenway Park, turns 33. ... Fellow catcher Kelly Shoppach is 34. ... Minor-league pitcher Paul Paez turns 22.


YOU’RE UP: How should Terry Collins’ divide the outfield play once Juan Lagares returns?