Morning Briefing: Juan (& Mets) get day off


FIRST PITCH: The Mets get to exhale Monday before beginning a stretch of 20 games in 20 days.

After an off-day, Justin Turner and the Los Angeles Dodgers visit Citi Field for three games. Rafael Montero (0-1, 4.50 ERA) makes his second major-league start in the series opener, opposite Josh Beckett (1-1, 2.38) on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m.

Read the Mets-Dodgers series preview here.

Monday’s news reports:

• After surrendering five runs (three earned) in six innings, Zack Wheeler acknowledged he needs to quickly turn things around and become less predictable with his pitch selection. Wheeler suffered the loss as the Mets dropped Sunday’s rubber game to the Washington Nationals, 6-3. Daniel Murphy extended his hitting streak to 10 games, but was thrown out at third base for the third time in May.

“We’ve been inconsistent,” David Wright told reporters afterward. “We go through a stretch where we play well, go through a stretch where we don’t play so well. Granted, it’s impossible to go through the whole season and play your best baseball every day, but there’s got to be some gray area where you squeak out a win when you’re not playing well, and it doesn’t seem we’re doing that.”

As for Wheeler, pitching coach Dan Warthen told Jared Diamond in the Journal: “It’s always a growing experience. As this year goes on, you’re going to see Zack Wheeler grow and grow and grow and grow. It’s not surprising what is happening is happening.”

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

• Terry Collins insisted Juan Lagares was never “benched” during a stretch in which the center fielder was out of the starting lineup four times in five games. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Don Burke in the Post profiles Kevin Burkhardt’s meteoric rise in the broadcasting industry, from high school broadcaster for a 1,000-watt station, to car salesman, to SNY’s Mets field reporter, to soon-to-be full time with Fox. Burkhardt will move from New Jersey to Los Angeles with his family this fall when his SNY contract expires.

• Collins suggested the one thing that could prevent Jenrry Mejia from becoming a successful closer is the recurrence of health issues that have plagued his career, Anthony DiComo writes at MLB.com. A wary Mejia has not yet pitched back-to-back days since returning to the bullpen.

Andrew Brown went 4-for-5 with two RBIs, but Las Vegas lost to El Paso, 10-9. Binghamton got a 14th-inning RBI single from Matt Reynolds and outlasted New Hampshire, 9-8. Read the full minor-league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Zack Thornton, acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ike Davis, turns 26. … Turk Wendell is 47. ... Former Mets first-round pick Alan Zinter is 46.


YOU’RE UP: Should Terry Collins start Juan Lagares on Monday?