Monday, August 22, 2011
Pregame: Reyes rehab, Citi walls, Duda RF
By Adam Rubin
Jose Reyes is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Binghamton on Thursday and play three to four games with the Double-A club, Terry Collins said.
Reyes ran the bases before Monday’s Mets-Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park. He plans to do so again Tuesday before shipping out on the rehab assignment for a strained left hamstring in upstate New York.
“Less tomorrow because I’m getting close to playing in the game,” Reyes said about the intensity of Tuesday’s activity. “I’m not going to go crazy, because the last five days I’ve been running a lot.”
Coincidentally, Jeff Wilpon is visiting Binghamton tonight, with 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey on the mound.
OUTER DIMENSION: Team insiders continue to expect the line on the wall in left field to be reduced to eight feet in 2012, making shots such as Jason Bay’s double off the top of the wall Sunday a homer rather than in play. The only other change being considered is to the “Mo Zone” in right field to eliminate the crevice, but that is far less of a certainty. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” one Mets position player said about expected changes, which have filtered through the clubhouse.
CLOSE CALL: Collins acknowledged discussing with pitching coach Dan Warthen the possibility of Mike Pelfrey being the team’s closer in 2012. The manager explained he was searching for internal alternatives in case Bobby Parnell is not up to the task.
However, Pelfrey working as the closer next season has been dismissed because Collins’ bosses believe Pelfrey’s annual 200-inning contribution would be too difficult to replace.
Collins thought Pelfrey would make a good closing candidate because he’s “durable.”
Said the manager: “I said, ‘Here’s a guy who I know can throw 95-97 mph, commands three pitches. They don’t really run on him much. And he can go out there five days a week, maybe six.’ It was just a thought I had. And I ran it by Pelf one day talking in the outfield. He said, ‘Yeah, I’ll close if you want me to close.’ It hasn’t gone much farther than that.’”
And it won’t go farther?
“Probably not,” Collins said. “It’s one thing to say, it’s another thing to replace 200 innings, which he’s going to give you.”
OUCH: Dillon Gee jumped ahead of Jon Niese in the rotation and is taking Monday’s start because Niese hurt his back on an awkward swing while striking out in San Diego. Niese will start on Tuesday instead. Because of an off-day last week, Gee was able to start the series opener in Philadelphia on standard rest, affording Niese extra time.
“The pitch he struck out on, he took a real bad swing at it,” Collins said about Niese. “The next day his right side was bothering him a little bit, so we backed him up a day. He’s fine.”
RIGHT STUFF: Lucas Duda will start in right field Tuesday for the first time since Aug. 7, with Nick Evans starting at first base, Collins pledged.
The manager said he will wait until September to play Duda semi-full time in right field – Duda’s logical 2012 position. While the manager did not mention it, once rosters expand, Josh Satin is likely to be a September call-up and can man first base.
Duda, incidentally, fully expects to play winter ball. The most likely landing spot is Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League, although Duda has not fully ruled out the Dominican Republic. Tim Teufel is succeeding Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens as manager with Caracas, making it a natural fit.
SPOT START: Because of a doubleheader next Monday against the Florida Marlins, the Mets need a spot starter that day, or next Tuesday. Collins acknowledged the starter will come from Triple-A Buffalo.
The two candidates would appear to be 24-year-old Chris Schwinden (7-6, 3.60 ERA) or 40-year-old Miguel Batista. Paul DePodesta is watching Buffalo on Monday, with Batista scheduled to start.
While it would appear logical to use the younger pitcher, Schwinden, who might help in 2012, Collins said that is not a factor. Collins said the Mets would go with who is recommended as the best available arm from the Bisons, and added that he would only defer to a younger pitcher for development purposes if it was multiple starts that were needed.
So it may very well be Batista against the Marlins next week instead of Schwinden. A team insider added that there is concern Schwinden may be running out of gas, having already logged 133 innings this season -- 20 more than last season’s total.
EXPANSION PLANS: A team insider said he expects five to seven call-ups once rosters expand, although the decisions are still fluid. Mike Nickeas as a third catcher is a no-brainer, as is Satin for infield work. Binghamton right-hander Josh Stinson also is expected to get the call, although fellow B-Met Robert Carson may get passed over. The Mets do not plan to call up any outfielders, since they have plenty on the roster. Corner infielder Zach Lutz is on the bubble, but probably on the outside. One issue: If Satin gets some starts at first base and David Wright is at third base, Lutz would struggle to get playing time.
The Mets do not lack 40-man roster spots. They are currently at 39, and can transfer Daniel Murphy, Taylor Buchholz and Ike Davis to the 60-day DL to free up room for three more additions.
AWARD WINNER: Savannah right-hander Taylor Whitenton was named South Atlantic League pitcher of the week.