Sunday, May 20, 2012
Mets morning briefing 5.20.12
By Adam Rubin
Brandon Morrow tossed a three-hit shutout and the Mets lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-0, Saturday at Rogers Centre. Dillon Gee starts Sunday's 1:07 p.m. game, trying to prevent the Amazin's from getting swept north of the border.
Regarding the Mets' offense, Terry Collins said, the Mets can't be patient to a fault in driving up pitch counts.
"We’ve got to start grinding out some at-bats," Collins said. "It goes back to exactly what we talked about a couple of weeks ago, and that's: It’s not about taking pitches. It’s about being patient, and when you get the pitch you want, hit it. Brandon was in the strike zone today. He was making good pitches early in the count. And we're down early, 0-1, 0-2. I don’t want these guys to think they've got to go up there and just take the good pitches they can hit."
Sunday's news reports:
• Miguel Batista was forced to leave Saturday's game after tossing two scoreless innings because of a pulled muscle in his lower back. Jeremy Hefner, promoted from Triple-A Buffalo, entered in relief and limited the Jays to two runs in five innings but was charged with the loss. Chris Schwinden will arrive Sunday in Toronto as a taxi-squad member, and presumably has a good chance of being activated as a hedge against Gee having a short outing, with Batista landing on the DL.
Jordany Valdespin had been demoted before Saturday's game to make room for Hefner. Valdespin will play second base with the Bisons. The Mets will promote a position player before Monday's game in Pittsburgh, Collins indicated. Collins said Hefner would start in Batista's place Thursday at Citi Field if the 41-year-old right-hander lands on the DL. Read more in Newsday, the Record, Star-Ledger and Post.
• Mike Baxter was ruled out at second base in the ninth inning on an apparent blown call. Had Baxter been credited with a double, the Mets would have had two runners in scoring position with one out in the ninth, trailing by two runs. Read more in the Post.
• Read game recaps in the Post, Times, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Record and Daily News.
• There's no indication Ike Davis is in imminent danger of a demotion. But the number of notable names getting demoted is, well, notable. First, the Braves sent Jair Jurrjens to Triple-A Gwinnett. First baseman Adam Lind is reportedly on waivers for the purpose of being removed from the 40-man roster and demoted by the Blue Jays. And, now, first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who was hitting .197 with one homer with Miami, has been demoted too. “We don’t think he’s a .190 hitter,” Marlins GM Michael Hill told the Miami Herald about Sanchez, an All-Star last season. “We think he’s better than he’s showing here. We think he’s pressing. We want to take some of the pressure off him, get him down to Triple-A, and get him right.” Davis is hitting .160 after going 0-for-3 Saturday in Toronto.
• Pedro Beato began an official rehab assignment Saturday night with Class A St. Lucie, tossing two scoreless innings. He is on the 60-day DL because of a shoulder issue that arose during spring training. Jenrry Mejia, meanwhile, allowed one run on six hits while striking out three and walking none in three innings for Double-A Binghamton. He threw only 48 pitches in his first Double-A start since Tommy John surgery, but Sandy Alderson said that roughly was the prescribed length. Mejia had higher pitch counts in two previous starts for St. Lucie. Also Saturday, Vinny Rottino had three homers for Triple-A Buffalo. Read the Saturday's full minor league recap here.
• David Wright was sicker Saturday than the previous day and was unavailable. Still, he already has informed Collins he wants to play Sunday. Read more in the Daily News.
• Anthony McCarron pens a feature in the Daily News celebrating Wright's leadership by example. Regarding Wright bickering with Collins in the dugout because he wanted to remain in Tuesday's game against Milwaukee to get drilled as payback for D.J. Carrasco hitting Ryan Braun, Ron Darling said: “I think there were probably people on the bench who didn’t understand what the hullabaloo was about at all and were taught a valuable lesson. 'What? Get hit? Who wants to get hit?’ He basically said, 'I know how the game is played and I know what we have to do in certain situations and I’m willing to do that.' David is one of those rare current players who could’ve played in any generation. There is a real courage in the way he plays the game. Guy played three weeks with a back that was broken last year, hits a homer with a broken finger because he knows his team needs him. I watch him play, and it makes me proud that I was part of the fraternity.”
• Collins believes Ruben Tejada (quadriceps) could be in a minor league rehab game as soon as Monday. Jason Bay (fractured rib) may take batting practice that day in Pittsburgh. Chris Young, who took a brief break with his wife due to give birth, is expected to resume his comeback with Class A St. Lucie on Friday. It will be Young's third minor league start with the Florida State League club since May 16, 2011 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder.
• David Lennon in Newsday reviews the early impact of the wall changes at Citi Field. He notes Gee's amusement at hearing during the trip to Miami's new ballpark about Marlins players already expressing discontent with the cavernous dimensions. As a result of the Citi Field changes, there have been 10 additional homers this season that would have remained in play under the old configuration -- six by opponents, four by the Mets (Kirk Nieuwenhuis 2, Lucas Duda, Wright). "I enjoy it," Wright told Lennon. "Obviously, it's smaller, so I enjoy that. But it's tough, I guess, to describe the effect that it has because it's still relatively early. A lot of how the ball carries has to do with the weather, and the weather has been chilly, rainy and windy."
Still, Citi Field has not become a homer haven. Writes Lennon:
Through the first 20 home games, there have been 26 home runs hit at Citi Field, and that frequency of 1.3 per game is tied (with Wrigley Field) for 13th-best in the National League . Only AT&T Park (0.84), PETCO Park (0.96) and Marlins Park (1.24) had produced fewer. Before Citi's changes are deemed inconsequential, however, consider this: According to ESPN Home Run Tracker, 10 home runs needed the new dimensions to clear the walls, and if there were only 16 home runs to this point, that drops the average rate to a minuscule 0.80 -- the lowest in either league. "It's only a small sample size," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "But at the same time, that's still a dramatic impact."
Jeff Wilpon told Lennon: "It doesn't look like a sore thumb sticking out, in the terms of the changes that we made. I think it's been very successful in that sense. We knew it wouldn't make a huge difference -- we wanted it to be a moderate difference. ... I wish we were hitting more home runs, either with the benefit of the changes or without the benefits."
• Tyler Kepner in the Times pays homage to Chipper Jones, who is due to retire at season's end. Writes Kepner:
In Chicago, the Cubs gave him a Braves flag that flew above the scoreboard at Wrigley Field. In Denver, the Rockies gave him a camera to mount on his hunting bow. The Houston Astros gave him a cowboy hat, and the St. Louis Cardinals presented a jersey signed by Stan Musial. “It was really cool in St. Louis when he came up to bat,” Braves reliever Craig Kimbrel said. “They kind of stopped the game. They were already losing in the first inning, but he came up to bat and got a standing ovation.”
Jones told Kepner about last year's Braves historic collapse relative to the team's current success (25-16, first place): "It’s really gratifying because the guys went home in the offseason and used what happened in September as a motivational tool. I’ve said this all along: If we end up winning an Eastern Division championship or a National League championship or a World Series in the next couple of years, I guarantee you all these players will look back at September and say we learned a lot.”
• Critic Bob Raissman in the Daily News praises Collins as a straight shooter. Writes Raissman:
While The Prince of Darkness, John Tortorella, continues perfecting his mummified style, Terry Collins is out in Queens shedding light. The Mets manager will never be cast as Mr. Sunshine. He illuminates by speaking the truth. That’s why the media rarely has a discouraging word about him. Of all the head mouths in town, Collins is the straightest shooter.
• Columnist Jeff Bradley in the Star-Ledger compares the 1993 Yankees to the 2012 Mets in terms of success despite low expectations. Warning: extensive Paul O'Neill quoting.
TRIVIA: Who was the last Pittsburgh Pirate to have a multi-homer game against the Mets?
Saturday's answer: Mike Jacobs was traded to Toronto for a player to be named or cash in the last swap between the Mets and Jays, on July 30, 2010.