Saturday, March 3, 2012
Mets morning briefing 3.3.12
By Adam Rubin
The Mets play their second straight day of intrasquad games, this time with the regulars, on Saturday. Terry Collins plans to have the infield play together on one side, meaning Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy get to work together in the middle infield. The starting outfield -- Jason Bay, Andres Torres and Lucas Duda -- as well as Josh Thole are scheduled to play for the other intrasquad team.
Today's scheduled pitchers: R.A. Dickey, Pedro Beato, D.J. Carrasco, Fernando Cabrera, Chris Schwinden, Josh Stinson, Armando Rodriguez and Jon Rauch.
Saturday's news reports:
• The Mets' future was on display during Friday's intrasquad game, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis belting a two-run homer off Daniel Herrera and Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia each logging a pair of innings. Actually, Harvey's outing was cut short one out shy of its intended length because skin tore off his right thumb when he delivered a pitch. Harvey still plans to pitch in Monday night's Grapefruit League opener against the Washington Nationals, piggybacking after Dillon Gee starts the exhibition opener. Gee also logged two innings in Friday's intrasquad game.
"I love him," Wally Backman, who managed Double-A Binghamton last season, said about Familia to Mike Puma in the Post. "He's a power pitcher that has now developed three quality pitches. His changeup was a work in progress last year, and it will be a work in progress this year. But he's a power guy that sits at 94-95 [mph] and when he gets in trouble he's got 97-98."
Backman similarly had high praises for the pitching prospects in major league camp -- Jenrry Mejia, Familia and Harvey -- plus Zack Wheeler, who is on the minor league side, to columnist John Harper in the Daily News. "You put them together with Wheeler and a couple of more young guys who are coming fast and it reminds me of the '80s when Doc [Gooden], [Ron] Darling and [Sid] Fernandez all came up together," Backman said. "If these guys stay healthy, I think they could have the same kind of impact."
Read more in the Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.
• The Fielding Bible projects the Mets to have the third-worst fielding in the majors this season. Former hitting coach Howard Johnson took a harmless jab after seeing that stat. Johnson tweeted from his account @20HoJo: "live by stats die by stats."
• To combat the defensive shortcomings, Terry Collins plans on the Mets taking plenty of infield practice during camp, as teams did on a regular basis before regular-season games until a couple of decades ago. During Friday morning's infield work, Ike Davis tried to keep the mood light, shouting nicknames at players. Writes David Lennon in Newsday:
"Rabbit" is shortstop Ruben Tejada, also referred to as "Nio." Ronny Cedeno is "Captain Ron," derived from Kurt Russell's title character in the movie. "Forrest," his nickname for Daniel Murphy, well, that's one in which Davis seems particularly proud. "Remember when Forrest Gump had those two things on his knees?" Davis said. "Murph was almost going to have to wear two braces this year." When Davis first yelled out the nickname on Field 4, his teammates began cracking up. Even Murphy -- in the middle of scooping a ground ball -- couldn't help but smile. He made the play, too.
• Left-handed prospect Robert Carson, who was added to the 40-man roster during the offseason, is out with a strained intercostal muscle on his left side. Side-muscle strains typically take a while to heal, meaning Carson's limited time in big league camp probably will include only rehab before he is dispatched to the minors. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Frank Viola, who will serve as Savannah's pitching coach this season after serving in that capacity with Brooklyn last year, is not the only athlete in his family. Writes Peter Botte in the Daily News:
Viola said he might have to take a few personal days in August because he hopes to be in London to watch his 24-year-old daughter Brittany in the Olympics. Brittany Viola was a two-time NCAA champion in platform diving at Miami and she will compete in the Olympic trials in Washington in June. She was an alternate on the U.S. diving team in 2008.
• Torres discusses his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and upcoming movie about the subject in the Daily News. The documentary is titled "Gigante." Said Torres to the newspaper: "I'm excited about the movie, proud to be a part of it. A lot of kids, people need to understand that we have to try to help them with this. It's a tough condition. You struggle and you have trouble with focus. And it was the same thing for me, and a big reason why it took me so long to get to the big leagues. It's not easy, especially playing this game every day. But I finally learned this was something that could be corrected. Now, people come up to me -- kids, too -- and thank me for talking about this. I always say I'm happy to do it. Because it's very important. And because it's made me who I am."
TRIVIA: Who has the worst single-season batting average in franchise history while also having at least 500 plate appearances?
(Friday's answer: Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden won the Cy Young while representing the Mets. Seaver actually won it three times while in Flushing.)