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Monday, March 26, 2012
Mets morning briefing 3.26.12

By Adam Rubin

Johan Santana makes his fifth Grapefruit League start this afternoon, looking to ramp up to 90-95 pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter. David Wright may be manning third base behind Santana, although Terry Collins did not want to commit until this morning. Otherwise, Wright -- who saw live pitching from right-hander Michael Powers and left-hander Robert Carson on Sunday -- should make his first exhibition-game appearance Tuesday. Santana limited the Cardinals to one run and six hits -- all singles -- in six innings last Wednesday while requiring only 69 pitches. Jake Westbrook is scheduled to start for the Cards.

Monday's news reports:

Jason Bay felt like he dodged a bullet when a fastball from Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg drilled the left fielder in the right forearm, rather than Bay's wrist or hand. Bay nonetheless was forced to leave the game after the half-inning as the forearm tightened. Watch video of Bay discussing the injury here. Read more in the Star-LedgerTimes, Record and Post.

• The injuries on Sunday did not end with Bay on Sunday. Left-hander Garrett Olson, who seemed the primary alternative to Tim Byrdak in the bullpen while the incumbent lefty specialist recovers from knee surgery, was struck in the palm of his pitching hand in a Double-A game. X-rays were negative and Olson was diagnosed with a bruise, the team announced. Josh Edgin might have forced his way onto the roster over Olson anyway in the final 10 days of spring training. He now is an even more serious candidate, despite having not pitched above Class A, if Olson's injury lingers a week.

• There was some progress, aside from Wright. Collins said Andres Torres' strained left calf felt considerably better Sunday, although the center fielder still appears a few days from testing it running, which still makes Opening Day an uncertain proposition. Scott Hairston (strained left oblique), the backup to Torres in center field, took batting practice Sunday for the first time and pronounced the session a success. Read more in Newsday.

D.J. Carrasco and Pedro Beato appear headed to the major league disabled list to open the season. Carrasco's right ankle is still bothering him. Beato, who likely was ticketed for Triple-A Buffalo now that he officially is Mets property and not a Rule 5 pick, has more shoulder stiffness after throwing 25 pitches off a mound Thursday.

• Carrasco starting the season on the DL all but locks Miguel Batista into the final bullpen spot, joining Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Manny Acosta, Bobby Parnell and the lefty specialist. Carrasco is guaranteed $1.2 million, in the second season of a two-year, $2.4 million deal. He had recorded seven outs without surrendering a hit or walk early in the Grapefruit League season before suffering the ankle injury.

• 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey had a miserable outing in place of Dillon Gee as the Mets lost to the Nats, 12-0, Sunday afternoon in Viera. The first four batters against Harvey homered, doubled, doubled and homered. Harvey ultimately lasted only 10 batters, allowing five runs, three homers and seven hits. Strasburg even singled against Harvey. Washington snapped an 11-game winless streak. Harvey was borrowed from minor league camp so Gee could avoid facing Washington for a third time during spring training. Gee instead tossed six scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins' Triple-A New Orleans affiliate. Gee's first regular-season game is slated for April 10 against Washington at Citi Field. Read more on Harvey's performance in Newsday, the Times, Journal, Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.

• Francisco tossed a scoreless inning in Sunday's loss, after allowing single runs in six of his previous eight Grapefruit League appearances. Collins has been excusing the appearances by saying closers need to be amped up in order to thrive, and often underperform when they enter lopsided exhibition games in the middle innings. Yet Francisco did blow the save in the ninth Saturday against St. Louis while trying to protect a one-run lead. Francisco told Mike Kerwick in the Record he is unconcerned about spring-training results. "I like when they have a big inning," Francisco said, " ’cause I get to work more. The other day, I went and … I got two outs [on] two pitches. I don’t want that. I want to work."

Josh Satin is now 4-for-6 in two games with Triple-A Buffalo since being optioned from major league camp. Satin drove in the lone Bisons run in a 1-1 tie with the Zephyrs on Sunday that included Gee on the mound. Read the full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: Name the five most-recent Mets general managers.

Sunday's answer: In addition to Mike Baxter, who finished his college career at Vanderbilt, R.A. Dickey and Matt den Dekker also played in the Southeastern Conference. Dickey pitched for the Tennessee Volunteers, while den Dekker played center field for the Florida Gators.