- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. --
FIRST PITCH: The New York Mets should be in Texas by nightfall. First, however, there is one final Grapefruit League game to play.
Matt Harvey looks to put an exclamation point on his remarkable spring-training comeback from Tommy John surgery when he opposes St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn at 12:05 p.m. ET in Jupiter.
Harvey will make his first regular-season start next Thursday, in the series finale in D.C. against the Washington Nationals. He will oppose Stephen Strasburg that day, in a rematch of a celebrated April 19, 2013 duel.
Harvey has produced a 1.45 Grapefruit League ERA in five starts spanning 18 2/3 innings. He has allowed 14 hits and walked only one batter while striking out 17.
After Thursday’s Sunshine State finale, the Mets board a plane for Dallas. They will face the Texas Rangers in a pair of exhibitions. Jacob deGrom starts Friday. Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee and Rafael Montero all are scheduled to see action the following day.
THURSDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
Although it remains unofficial, Juan Lagares and the Mets have agreed on a four-year contract that guarantees the Gold Glove winner $23 million from 2016 through 2019. The deal also will include a $9.5 million team option for 2020 with a $500,000 buyout. That otherwise would be Lagares’ first season following free-agency eligibility. General manager Sandy Alderson acknowledged talks with Lucas Duda's representatives about a potential extension, too, although the sides likely will table things if there is no deal in place by Opening Day. Read columnist Kevin Kernan’s take in the Post and news stories in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Journal, Record and at MLB.com.
Gee will be the fifth starter, with Montero in the bullpen. The rotation order for the second series, in Atlanta, is Niese, Gee, then back to Opening Day starter Bartolo Colon. Read more in the Post and at MLB.com.
Facebook released its 2015 MLB fandom census. The Mets rule in zero counties in the United States. See the map here.
Vic Black (shoulder) pitched in a game for the first time since March 9. He registered 93-94 mph with his fastball against the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate. Still, Black acknowledged he expects to spend the season’s opening week on the DL. Bobby Parnell allowed two doubles and a home run and failed to complete an inning in the same minor league game as he works back from Tommy John surgery.
Daniel Murphy played five innings at second base and got five at-bats in the Triple-A game as he works back from a pulled right hamstring. The Mets are uncertain whether Murphy will be ready for Opening Day, but optimism appears to be growing. Danny Muno and Ruben Tejada likely would share second-base duties the first week if Murphy had a backdated DL stint. Matt Reynolds is now hitting .500 in Grapefruit League play after a 2-for-2, three-RBI game on Wednesday, but the Mets are leery of putting him on the roster for a short period of time. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
The Mets received two-out RBI singles from Amed Rosario and Reynolds in the ninth, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis struck out looking with the tying run at second base and the Mets lost to the Cardinals, 5-4, Wednesday at Tradition Field. Colon was charged with three runs in five-plus innings in his final tuneup. Newly acquired left-hander Alex Torres made his Mets debut with a scoreless inning.
Torres wore a regular Mets cap Wednesday while pitching. He hopes the redesign of the protective cap he wore last season with the San Diego Padres can be further modified for use during the upcoming season.
The Mets’ payroll ranks 21st in the majors, at about $101.4 million.
2014 first-round pick Michael Conforto, an outfielder from Oregon State, will open his season with Class A St. Lucie.
Andrew Christie, the son of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will intern with the Mets this summer.
Tim Rohan in the Times discusses the Mets' confidence as the season rapidly approaches.
Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post suggests the Mets might be poised to take back the Big Apple from the New York Yankees. Third base coach/’86 Met Tim Teufel tells columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record on that same topic: "You can feel the pieces of the chessboard coming together here. I’m getting the same feeling. We’d like to think [New York] is going to be a National League town again."
Mike Puma in the Post has a season preview. He predicts the Mets finish 83-79.
Laura Albanese in Newsday and Mark Newman at MLB.com outline the changes at Citi Field -- from dimensions, to the scoreboard, to the cuisine. Jeanette Settembre in the Daily News checks out the new food choices at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. Seth Berkman in the Times and Justin Tasch in the Daily News discuss the new video board at the Queens ballpark. The Mets also will now have a digital "K Korner" on a scoreboard in left field, Eric Barrow writes in the Daily News.
Matt Ehalt in the Record profiles Wilmer Flores. "After this year is over, I foresee everybody saying, 'I’m really glad we didn’t make a move at shortstop because this guy was really good,'" David Wright tells Ehalt. "You look at his offense compared to a lot of shortstops' offense and I think he’s going to be right up near the top of that list. He can just flat-out hit."
BIRTHDAYS: Hisanori Takahashi turns 40.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 2, 2015
YOU’RE UP: Are you surprised by Harvey’s spring-training dominance?
309dDanny Knobler | Special to ESPNNewYork.com