New York Mets: Billy Hamilton

Morning Briefing: TC on W: 'Needed badly'

April, 5, 2014
Apr 5
5:35
AM ET

Elsa/Getty ImagesLucas Duda produces the second of two homers Friday night against Mike Leake and the Cincinnati Reds.
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Opening Day starter Dillon Gee gets his second pitching opportunity of the season when he opposes Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. at Citi Field.

Gee was charged with four runs in 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision on Opening Day against the Washington Nationals.

For the Reds, Cueto surrendered a solo homer to Yadier Molina and only two other hits in seven innings in a 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener.

Eric Young Jr. is due to receive the Lou Brock Award as the 2013 National League steals leader before the game. The ceremony was postponed Friday because of the rainy conditions.

Saturday’s news reports:

• Terry Collins committed to giving Lucas Duda an extended look at first base. Duda then went out and hit a pair of two-run homers in the Mets’ 4-3 win against the Reds on Friday night at rainy Citi Field. Jenrry Mejia limited Cincy to one run in six innings. E.Y. Jr. took away a first-inning homer from Brandon Phillips. Anthony Recker became the second MLB player to throw out speedster Billy Hamilton on the basepaths, joining Juan Centeno last season. Jose Valverde earned his first Mets save.

“We needed it badly,” Terry Collins said about his club’s first 2014 victory, which snapped a three-game losing streak.

As for Duda getting this next stretch of games, perhaps there’s a reason, Cody Derespina in Newsday suggests. Wrote Derespina early Friday:

The Mets are due to face right-handed pitchers in their next five games: Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto and Alfredo Simon of the Reds and Aaron Harang and David Hale of the Braves. Neither Davis nor Duda has faced Hale, but both have logged 24 at-bats against the other four starters.

Here’s the breakdown:

Davis is 3-for-24 against the quartet with a walk and four total bases. That’s a .125 average and .326 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Duda, however, is 9-for-24 with four walks and 16 total bases, a robust .375 average and 1.130 OPS.

Read Duda summaries and game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Record, Newsday, Times and at MLB.com.

• Read more on Recker in Newsday.

• Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five in his Triple-A debut with Las Vegas. Making his Florida State League debut, Long Island native Steven Matz was tagged with the loss. The southpaw allowed two runs in five innings in St. Lucie’s 6-2 loss to Palm Beach. Savannah native John Gant earned the win in the Gnats’ 10-1 victory against Lakewood. Jared King had a pair of two-run triples. Gavin Cecchini produced his second professional homer. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Boomer Esiason apologized for criticizing Daniel Murphy’s decision to take paternity leave and miss the first two games of the season.

“I was not telling women what to do with their bodies. I would never do that,” Esiason reportedly said on-air after initially suggesting Murphy’s wife should have had a C-section before the season. “That’s their decision, that’s their life and they know their bodies better than I do. And the other thing, too, that I really felt bad about is that Daniel Murphy and Tori Murphy were dragged into the conversation, and their whole life was exposed. And it shouldn’t have been.”

Read more in the Post and Daily News.

• Collins explained how Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom will get bullpen work at Las Vegas by May, setting up that as their potential initial big-league role.

BIRTHDAYS: Former first-round pick Lastings Milledge turns 29. Milledge is playing this season for Yakult in the Japanese Central League.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will Lucas Duda still be the Mets’ starting first baseman in 10 days?

Cincy's Hamilton 'Met' his match in Recker

April, 5, 2014
Apr 5
12:10
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Late in the 2012 season, when Billy Hamilton was well on his way to setting a minor-league single-season record with 155 steals, Anthony Recker twice thought he had caught Hamilton on the basepaths in the Double-A Southern League.

lastname
Hamilton
lastname
Recker
“Honestly, I’d like to say I threw him out twice in two tries, but both times they called him safe,” Recker recalled Friday night. “My shortstop told me he was out both times. So I’ll believe him, because I thought I had him both times.

“At the time, it was after he had already broken the record in the minor leagues. It was at the end of 2012 and he already had 100-and-I-don’t-know-how-many stolen bases.”

Recker got an out call at an opportune time Friday.

Hamilton, pinch-running in the eighth inning with the Cincinnati Reds trailing by a run, was thrown out by Recker attempting to steal for the second out of that frame. The Mets ultimately held on for a 4-3 victory.

“He’s just as fast as he was then,” Recker said. “So, yeah, he can still run.”

The Mets are actually the only team to throw out Hamilton in his big-league career. Hamilton has 13 successful steals in 15 attempts. Juan Centeno threw him out last Sept. 25.

As for Recker, he looked vastly improved throwing to second base during spring training. Last season, he threw out only seven of 34 would-base base stealers.

“Last season I didn’t throw the ball as well as I know I could,” Recker said. “So I made a point to really work on that in the offseason -- my footwork.

“Honestly, I just made everything simple. Just getting better direction toward second base and really just trying to keep my arm as ‘short’ as possible. That’s really it.”

Rapid Reaction: Mets 4, Reds 3

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
10:12
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Lucas Duda, in his first game since Terry Collins announced plans to give him an “extended look” at first base, spoke loudly with his bat.

Duda slugged a pair of two-run homers against Mike Leake and the Mets notched their first win of the season, holding on for a 4-3 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on a rainy Friday night at Citi Field.

Jose Valverde, filling in for injured Bobby Parnell, recorded his first save as a Met and the 287th of his career -- two shy of matching Armando Benitez for 26th all time. Valverde allowed two baserunners but escaped for his first save since June 11, 2013 with Detroit.


Elsa/Getty ImagesLucas Duda rounds the bases after his second two-run homer Friday.


Only two of Duda’s 15 homers last season came with men on base.

Duda finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs and a walk. It marked his fifth career multihomer game. He also scooped two bounced throws from David Wright at first base.

Oh, Jenrry! Jenrry Mejia struck out a career-high eight batters while limiting Cincinnati to one run on four hits and five walks in six innings. He threw 101 pitches, his most since also reaching that total in Triple-A on April 13, 2011.

Mejia did receive a first-inning bailout from left fielder Eric Young Jr., who jumped Endy Chavez-style at the wall to take away a would-be first-inning homer from Brandon Phillips.

For the second straight game, Mejia was drilled with a comebacker. In Phillips’ next at-bat, he smoked a grounder off Mejia’s right ankle in the third. In Montreal last Friday, Mejia had been struck in the right forearm by a line drive, which resulted in inflammation and the need for X-rays, but no fracture.

Oh, pen: The maligned bullpen inherited a 4-1 lead from Mejia with three innings to play and immediately started giving it back.

John Lannan surrendered a two-out, two-run homer to Jay Bruce in the seventh as Cincinnati pulled within a run.

However, Kyle Farnsworth subsequently recorded four outs, topping out at 94 mph, to get the ball to Valverde.

The bullpen has now allowed 14 runs (13 earned) in 12 1/3 innings -- good for a 9.49 ERA.

Murphy’s flaw: Daniel Murphy committed his third error in two games since returning from paternity leave. Murphy could not handle Todd Frazier’s would-be double-play grounder in the sixth, instead resulting in two runners on base and none out with the Mets clinging to a 2-1 lead. Mejia bailed out Murphy, ultimately stranding runners on the corners by striking out Leake.

Silent nights: Travis d’Arnaud and E.Y. Jr. each went 0-for-3. Each is now hitless in 12 at-bats this season.

Met his match: Speedster Billy Hamilton has been caught stealing only twice in his big-league career. Both times have been by the Mets.

Juan Centeno did the honors last season. Friday night, it was Anthony Recker, after Hamilton entered as a pinch-runner with one out in the eighth and the Mets leading by a run.

What’s next: Opening Day starters Dillon Gee (0-0, 5.40 ERA) and Johnny Cueto (0-1, 1.29) face off at 1:10 p.m. Saturday at Citi Field.

Series preview: Mets vs. Reds

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
8:45
AM ET

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto and Alfredo Simon this weekend at Citi Field.
METS (0-3, fifth place/NL East) vs. CINCINNATI REDS (1-2, third place/NL Central)

Friday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (0-0, -.--) vs. RHP Mike Leake (0-0, -.--), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (0-0, 5.40) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (0-1, 1.29), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Jonathon Niese (0-0, -.--) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (0-0, -.--), 1:10 p.m. ET

Reds short hops

• Cincinnati opened the season with an MLB-high eight players on the disabled list. The most gruesome injury occurred to flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman, who was struck by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City’s Salvador Perez on March 19. Chapman suffered eye and nose fractures and also a mild concussion. He had a plate and screws inserted to stabilize the bones near his left eye.


Mark Sheldon/Associated PressAroldis Chapman is taken off the field after being struck by a March 19 line drive.


Also opening the season on the DL: right-handers Mat Latos (Oct. 11 elbow surgery and Feb. 14 knee surgery), Jonathan Broxton (Aug. 23 forearm surgery) and Brett Marshall (finger tendon), left-hander Sean Marshall (shoulder), catcher Devin Mesoraco (oblique), infielder Jack Hannahan (shoulder) and free-agent infielder/outfielder signee Skip Schumaker (shoulder).

Alfredo Simon, who has 19 career saves, steps into the rotation as the fifth starter until Latos returns. Latos tossed four innings for Double-A Pensacola in a rehab start Thursday.

• Bryan Price, 51, is the first-year manager of the Reds. He served the previous four seasons as the team’s pitching coach under Dusty Baker.

J.J. Hoover may take the lead in a closer-by-committee scenario until Broxton and then Chapman returns. Broxton may be back within a week. Hoover’s co-closers for now include Logan Ondrusek, Manny Parra and Sam LeCure. Hoover had 23 straight scoreless appearances last summer, a franchise record for a right-hander.

Mike Leake, still 26 year old, already has made five Opening Day rosters with the Reds. His 57 hits are the most by any MLB pitcher since his 2010 debut.

• Cincinnati opened its season by failing to score in its first 17 innings, until Chris Heisey’s walk-off single against St. Louis’ Carlos Martinez won Game 2 of the season, 1-0. Heisey had six spring-training homers, tied for the MLB lead.

• Speedster Billy Hamilton is hitless in 12 at-bats with six strikeouts to open the season. Four of the Ks came on Opening Day. He has been caught stealing only once in his big-league career -- by the Mets’ Juan Centeno last season. Hamilton is handling center field (and playing shallow to take advantage of his speed) with Shin-Soo Choo’s defection to the Texas Rangers on a seven-year, $130 million deal.

• First baseman Joey Votto, the 2010 NL MVP, notched his 1,000th career hit Wednesday.

• Toms River/Rutgers product Todd Frazier had his fourth career multihomer game Thursday.

Johnny Cueto, who made his third straight Opening Day start, was a tough-luck loser against St. Louis. He surrendered a solo homer to Yadier Molina while allowing only two other hits and a walk in seven innings in the Reds’ 1-0 loss to Adam Wainwright. Cueto made only 11 starts last season because of three disabled-list trips.

• Cincinnati experienced a combined 6 hours, 22 minutes of rain delays on Wednesday and Thursday.

• Left fielder Ryan Ludwick had a better Opening Day this season than a year ago, even though he went 0-for-4. In the 2013 opener, Ludwick tore the labrum in his right shoulder on a headfirst slide into third base. He required surgery and did not return until Aug. 12.

• Catcher Brayan Pena, who played with the Detroit Tigers in 2013, signed a two-year, $2.275 million contract in November. Incumbent catcher Ryan Hanigan was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in December.

• Right-hander Homer Bailey signed a six-year, $105 million extension with the Reds on Feb. 19. He went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA in 32 starts last season and would have been eligible for free agency next winter.

Morning Briefing: Piazza party nears

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
8:22
AM ET

Lynne Sladky/Associated PressMike Piazza will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame on Sunday.
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Last call.

After winning five of six games on a trip to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, the Mets return home for their final series of the season -- a four-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The weekend highlight comes Sunday, when Mike Piazza becomes the 27th inductee into the Mets Hall of Fame. The pregame ceremony begins approximately 12:55 p.m.

Piazza will join:

1981: Joan Payson and Casey Stengel

1982: Gil Hodges and George Weiss

1983: Bill Shea and Johnny Murphy

1984: Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner

1986: Bud Harrelson and Rusty Staub

1988: Tom Seaver

1989: Jerry Koosman

1990: Ed Kranepool

1991: Cleon Jones

1992: Jerry Grote

1993: Tug McGraw

1996: Mookie Wilson

1997: Keith Hernandez

2001: Gary Carter

2002: Tommie Agee

2010: Frank Cashen, Davey Johnson, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry

2012: John Franco

Dillon Gee (12-10, 3.54 ERA) makes his final 2013 start in Thursday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener. He opposes right-hander Johnny Hellweg (1-4, 7.43).

Carlos Torres faces Yovani Gallardo on Friday, followed by Aaron Harang versus September call-up Jimmy Nelson on Saturday.

Terry Collins has yet to name Jonathon Niese or Daisuke Matsuzaka his Sunday starter, although logic points to Niese after Dice-K threw 105 pitches Wednesday. Marco Estrada starts for the Brewers.

For those monitoring the Mets’ June 2014 draft-pick status, the winning spurt has not helped.

The Mets (73-85) currently would have the 12th pick, outside of the protected top 10.

Would having an unprotected pick dissuade the Mets from pursuing a top-tier free agent? Or, more cynically, give them the built-in excuse not to spend on the elite group? That remains to be seen.

I don’t view the draft-pick situation as relevant to what we’re doing here,” Sandy Alderson recently told Mike Puma in the Post. “We’re trying to win every game we play. We’re trying to build the credibility of the franchise, and that goes beyond where we’re picking in the draft.”

Thursday’s news reports:

• Matsuzaka, making a bid to be part of the 2014 Mets, tossed a four-hit shutout over 7 2/3 innings in a 1-0 win against the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday. After posting a 10.95 ERA in his first three starts, Matsuzaka has a 1.37 ERA in his past four starts.

Even if Matt Harvey is OK for 2014 -- clearly no given -- the Mets should need a veteran starter in camp to compete with Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero for the fifth slot and to serve as a hedge against an injury

"My intentions are to stay here in the U.S. I want to continue pitching over here in the major leagues," Matsuzaka told reporters through his interpreter. "And, if my previous few starts have impressed anyone, then we'll just have to see.”

Meanwhile, Justin Turner, in his first action since straining his right hamstring on Sept. 10, started at third base in the place of resting David Wright and went 1-for-4. Wednesday’s win meant the Mets finished with a 41-40 road record.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.

Juan Centeno became the first major league catcher to throw out Billy Hamilton on an attempted steal, after 13 straight successful attempts to begin the speedster’s career. Centeno threw out 56 percent of would-be base stealers (34 of 61) between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas this season. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Mike Kerwick in the Record chats with Lucas Duda about the first baseman’s future with the organization. Obviously, something has to give between Ike Davis and Duda.

"If it’s Ike, obviously we know what kind of guy he is," Duda told Kerwick. "A 30- to 40-home-run kind of guy. Plays great defense.

"Whatever happens, happens. You can’t really get mad or whatever it is. That’s the game. That’s the business. I understand it. If I happen to get traded or whatever happens, I’ll thank the Mets for giving me an opportunity and hope whatever situation I’m in I play as well as I can."

• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger profiles Vic Black, who should be the primary closing candidate next season if Bobby Parnell has a rough recovery from surgery to repair a herniated disk. Collins indicated Parnell has lost 30 pounds since the neck ordeal began, although doctors feel he will be ready for spring training.

"Some guys have late life on the ball. Sometimes I play catch with him and he has, like, double life," LaTroy Hawkins told Castillo about Black. “The ball comes out of his hand and it picks up speed halfway and hits up another gear. It’s weird. It’s something I’ve never seen. That’s why I said he has a magical arm. I told him he has a magical arm."

Read more about Parnell’s status in the Daily News.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal suggests the talent gap between the Mets and Yankees has considerably closed. Diamond gives the edge to the Mets at catcher, third base, center field and with the starting pitching.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear relished the final midweek afternoon game of the year. … John Delcos at Mets Report does not want Matsuzaka starting the season finale.

BIRTHDAYS: Reliever Doug Sisk turns 56.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should Daisuke Matsuzaka be a part of the 2014 Mets?

Centeno shows off arm in key spot

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
5:50
PM ET
CINCINNATI -- Juan Centeno's first career caught-stealing was a big one.

[+] EnlargeDaisuke Matsuzaka, Juan Centeno
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesJuan Centeno helped Dice-K by pegging speedy Billy Hamilton at second -- the first time the Reds rookie has been caught stealing.
The Mets' rookie catcher threw out fellow rookie Billy Hamilton with two outs in the fifth inning of a 1-0 win over the Reds on Wednesday. Not only did it keep a speedy, dangerous baserunner out of scoring position in a tight game, it snapped Hamilton's career-opening streak of consecutive successful attempts at 13.

“I was excited,” said Centeno, who didn't face a base-stealing attempt in his only previous game. “As soon as [Hamilton] got on base, I got ready. I know he likes to go early.”

Manager Terry Collins wasn’t surprised, even though Reds right fielder Jay Bruce stole second twice in the same game before Hamilton was thrown out.

“That’s his storyline -- shutting down the running game,” Collins said. “He shut down a guy who could end up being the best base stealer of all time. That’s what we ask him to do to -- and he made it look easy.”

Centeno said this wasn’t the first streak he snapped. He once faced Arizona's Tony Campana in the minor leagues when Campana was 16-for-16.

“I got him, too,” Centeno said.

d’Arnaud vs. Hamilton showdown brewing

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
7:44
PM ET
CINCINNATI -- Travis d'Arnaud slightly nodded his head in agreement at the suggestion that he was facing a situation similar to a movie gunslinger in a potential showdown with Cincinnati base-stealing prodigy Billy Hamilton.

"That's a perfect analogy," the Mets catcher said.

Hamilton, who set a professional baseball record with a combined 155 stolen bases at two minor league stops in 2012, has been shattering records while going 12-for-12 since the Reds added him to their roster on September 2. The outfielder wasn't in Cincinnati's starting lineup for Monday's series-opener against the Mets, but d'Arnaud and manager Terry Collins figured they'd see him at some point.

"It's fun for me," said d'Arnaud, who'd thrown out four of the 22 runners trying to steal with him behind the plate this season.

d'Arnaud has faced accomplished base-stealers in his career -- and his life, he said, mentioning his older brother, Pirates outfielder Chase, who is 153-for-185 in his minor league career and 13-for-15 in 56 major league games.

"I'm 1-for-3 against him, and he never lets me hear the end of it," Travis said.

Like most managers, Collins believes stopping a prolific base-stealer depends as much or more on the pitcher than the catcher.

"We know he can run," Collins said before Monday's game. "It depends on who's on the mound. Whoever it is, we'll do our best to keep him close. We might change some things up to get his attention. So far, he's been pretty hard to stop. Travis is 1.8 to second base, so you'd better be fast to outrun him, but if [Hamilton] gets the right pitch in the right situation, he's hard to stop."

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.297 9 51 69
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 22
RBIL. Duda 66
RD. Murphy 69
OPSL. Duda .839
WB. Colon 11
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.49
SOZ. Wheeler 145