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Saturday, May 21, 2011
Mets morning briefing 5.21.11

By Adam Rubin

Mike O'Connor, Jason Isringhausen and Francisco Rodriguez backed R.A. Dickey with three scoreless relief innings as the Mets moved to .500 for the first time since April 9 with a 2-1 victory in the Bronx.

Saturday's news reports:

• Read game stories in the TimesStar-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News, Post and Record.

Justin Turner has an RBI in six straight games, tying the rookie franchise record originally set by Ron Swoboda in August 1965. Turner, it turns out, was a 29th-round pick of the Yankees after his junior year of college at Cal State Fullerton. Read a full profile here.

The Post's Joel Sherman talks to the Yankees' Damon Oppenheimer about drafting Turner that year. Oppenheimer tells Sherman: "You know how he will play and prepare and you will know his determination. He will not beat himself on or off the field. He is a self-starter. You are not going to have to tell him to work. ... I really liked 'Red' Turner. He was a good baseball player. He did not have the standard tools you look for, but you always thought he was a kid who would find his way to the big leagues."

Jose Reyes had the play of the game, diving up the middle to stop Alex Rodriguez's grounder and throwing to first base to strand two runners. "That's the difference in the game," Yankees skipper Joe Girardi said. Read more in the Star-Ledger and the Post.

Pedro Feliciano, who signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Yankees, is trying blood-spinning -- where doctors remove blood, spin it to isolate the platelets, then reinject it into a troublesome spot -- rather than surgery for a partially torn capsule in his left shoulder. You may recall Feliciano vowed to strike out Ike Davis as revenge for Dan Warthen's defense of Brian Cashman's claim the Mets abused Feliciano. Now, Davis (ankle) and Feliciano are missing the series because of injuries. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• The Star-Ledger's Jeff Bradley catches up with Dave Mlicki, who shut out Andy Pettitte and the Yankees on June 16, 1997, in the inaugural interleague game between the teams. Writes Bradley:

From his home in Dublin, Ohio, Mlicki seemed surprised that the Subway Series is no longer such a big deal, “Back in 1997, the atmosphere was World Series-like. For me, I’d never even been in Yankee Stadium. We took a bus from Shea to the game, which was odd, and when we pulled up there was a huge crowd of people screaming at us.” Mlicki remembered strolling out to Monument Park before batting practice, reading the plaques, taking it all in.

• Idled David Wright (stress fracture in back) hopes to be out the minimum 15 days. He had an imaging test Thursday, and believes doctors are now prepared to map out a plan for his return. "It's tough watching the game in general," Wright told reporters pregame Friday. "I think you grow accustomed to getting up and going through a routine, preparing to play. And when you wake up and you just kind of have that void, it's not the same. It's definitely not enjoyable and not fun. It's frustrating. It's disappointing. I really enjoy the Subway Series. I enjoy participating in that. It's just disappointing waking up knowing that I'm going to watch from the bench." Read more in the Record and Newsday.

• Record columnist Bob Klapisch's take on the Mets reaching .500:

Since April 21, the Mets have the fourth-best record in the majors, behind only the Braves, Red Sox and Cardinals. This run won’t change the Mets’ 2011 profile – they’re not playoff-bound – but it’s nevertheless erased some of the pre-existing notions about Terry Collins and life without some of their stars. Remember, this is a team that doesn’t have David Wright and Ike Davis. There’s no Johan Santana, and is too poor to even contemplate a monster trade in July. Yet, after a 5-13 start, the Mets are back to .500, which says something about their manager and his fiery, non-corny brand of intensity.

• While Willie Harris may be struggling, hitting .205 for the season, David Waldstein of the Times offers one alibi. Since Jason Bay returned from the disabled list, Harris' starts have come against Livan Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson. He also was asked to pinch-hit against Roy Halladay. He went 1-for-14 in those five games. “It’s not an easy job, but I have to perform,” Harris tells Waldstein.

Vicent M. Mallozzi of the Times profiles the creator of the site nonohitters.com, which chronicles 50 years of the Mets' failing to produce a no-hitter. Writes Mallozzi:

[Dirk] Lammers, who grew up in Manalapan, N.J., “rooting for players like Bruce Boisclair,” now lives in Sioux Falls, S.D., working as a reporter for The Associated Press. He created nonohitters.com at the suggestion of a friend who remembered that Lammers, a die-hard Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, ran a site in 2006 called Pointofnoreturns.com that discussed and lamented the fact that the Buccaneers had not returned a kickoff for a touchdown since their inaugural season in 1976. Eleven days after Lammers created the site, Tampa Bay’s Micheal Spurlock returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons. “I thought a site like this would bring the Mets some luck,” he said.

• The Times' Waldstein also looks at the success of Saturday starter Chris Capuano in preventing steals. Writes Waldstein:

Capuano is by far the active leader in rate of stolen bases against, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. In 821 career innings, Capuano has allowed only 15 stolen bases, one every 54.7 innings. The next closest is Mark Buehrle with 48 steals against in 2,331 innings, one every 48.6 innings.

• Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff contrasts Bobby Valentine and Terry Collins. Writes Davidoff:

They're really quite different. "I think they're totally different," said Jason Isringhausen , the only person at this Subway Series to play for both Bobby Valentine and Terry Collins. Bobby V. probably is the better strategist. Terry C., at least this incarnation of him, might be superior at communicating with his players. Valentine went to Japan with ambitions of elevating Pacific Rim baseball to new heights. "I just went there to manage," Collins said, smiling.

• Daily News columnist John Harper notes just how critical continued performances like Friday's from Dickey are for the Mets to succeed. Writes Harper:

On the big Yankee Stadium stage Friday night, Dickey found a way to make his signature pitch dance again, going six gutsy innings to pave the way for a 2-1 win in this first Subway Series game of 2011.  For Dickey it was his first win since April 3 and he sounded perhaps more relieved than overjoyed in describing the return of an old friend. "Tonight," he said, "that's the [knuckler] I remember from last year."

• The Post's Fred Kerber reports Subway Series tickets can be had at a depressed price. Writes Kerber:

Using prices listed on StubHub, TicketNetwork, TicketsNow and eBay, the average price to see the Yankees and Mets at the Stadium this weekend is $112.22, down nearly 40 percent from last season’s Stadium cost of $186.04.

A.J. Burnett once was a Mets farmhand. Read more in the Post.

BIRTHDAY: Hank Webb, father of current Florida Marlins reliever Ryan Webb, turns 61. Webb went 7-9 in parts of seasons with the team from 1972 to 1976. Webb’s most prominent season was '75, when he went 7-6 and pitched his only career shutout. He averaged only 2.97 strikeouts per nine innings that season, second-fewest in franchise history in a season for a Mets starter who threw at least 100 innings (Ed Lynch, 2.27 in 1983). -Mark Simon