New York Mets: Billy Hamilton

Players vote deGrom top NL rookie

November, 3, 2014
Nov 3
8:04
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NEW YORK -- The official NL Rookie of the Year Award will be announced next Monday, but Jacob deGrom picked up another honor in the interim.

DeGrom on Monday night was named Outstanding Rookie in the NL as part of the Players Choice Awards, which are voted on by players.

DeGrom beat out fellow finalists Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds and David Peralta of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

DeGrom, who is due to be married Saturday, is a heavy favorite to earn the Rookie of the Year Award next week.

deGrom finalist for players' award

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
5:11
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NEW YORK -- The official NL Rookie of the Year Award will be announced the week of Nov. 10.

Jacob deGrom is up for another award, too.

MLB players have voted deGrom one of three NL finalists for "outstanding rookie." The other candidates are Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton and Arizona's David Peralta.

That "Players Choice Award" winner will be announced Nov. 3.

deGrom heavy favorite for Rookie of Year

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
1:06
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NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom is getting married on Nov. 8. The NL Rookie of the Year Award will be announced the following week.

Let's just say it figures to be a pretty good month for deGrom.

Oddsmaker Bovada has labeled deGrom a 1-to-3 favorite to win the award.

That's not 3-to-1. That's 1-to-3, as in wager three units to win one.

The only other candidate on the board is Cincinnati outfielder Billy Hamilton. He's listed at 2-to-1.

Morning Briefing: Happy Burkhardt Day!

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
8:11
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: It’s Kevin Burkhardt Day at Citi Field.

Burkhardt, SNY’s field reporter for the past eight seasons, will participate in his final home telecast with Wednesday’s series finale against the Miami Marlins. Burkhardt’s SNY duties will wrap up on the road next Thursday at Washington.


Adam RubinKevin Burkhardt celebrates his final home game as an SNY field reporter on Wednesday.


He is headed to Fox full time.

The Mets send Dillon Gee to the mound for Burkhardt’s home sendoff. Gee (7-7, 3.80 ERA) opposes right-hander Henderson Alvarez (10-6, 2.81) at 7:10 p.m.

Wednesday’s news reports:

Wilmer Flores had a big day at the plate. Using Kevin Plawecki’s bat, Flores homered twice and for the second time this season had six RBIs as the Mets beat the Marlins, 9-1, Tuesday. Bartolo Colon limited Miami to one run despite surrendering 12 hits in 7 2/3 innings.

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

Juan Lagares departed Tuesday’s game after four innings with what initially has been diagnosed as a hyperextended right elbow. He is due to undergo an MRI on Wednesday morning. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post asserts that the Mets should tank the rest of the season to finish with one of the worst 10 records in baseball. That would give them a protected first-round pick and make it easier to pursue a free agent who figures to get a qualifying offer, such as Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy and Hanley Ramirez. The Mets currently have MLB’s 12th-worst record, which would mean forfeiting their first-round pick if they sign a premium free agent.

Of course, Sherman doesn’t expect the Mets will land any of those aforementioned free agents. He writes:

They will express concerns about Cabrera and Cruz’s Biogenesis pasts (though they were very interested in Jhonny Peralta last year) or whisper that their outfield will be too big for the defensively suspect Cruz (though it would not be too big for him to hit a bunch of homers) or they will express belief that Wilmer Flores and/or Matt Reynolds are dollar-for-dollar worth in the same win range as Hardy or Ramirez.

In other words, Mets fans should brace once more for excuses why they will not be getting players this offseason. But by losing big the rest of the way, at least one alibi would vanish from the repertoire.

• Retiring MLB commissioner Bud Selig, making the 20th stop of his farewell tour, visited Citi Field on Tuesday. Selig continued his unwavering support of Mets ownership. He suggested the Mets are in full compliance with MLB’s economic regulations and said the build-from-within approach is more sound than spending like “drunken sailors.” Selig added that he would let fired senior VP Leigh Castergine’s civil lawsuit play out in federal court and not discipline anybody within the organization in the midst of a legal proceeding.

Columnist Kevin Davidoff in the Post says Selig’s legacy partly is tied to propping up Mets ownership. Writes Davidoff:

A master salesman -- he sold used cars, after all -- Selig tried to make his case that the Mets’ unwillingness to spend more does not equate to gross incompetence. He mentioned the Cardinals as a team that doesn’t “spend money like drunken sailors.” He passionately declared, “Unless I read the standings wrong on the way over here, it looks to me like the Baltimore Orioles might win the American League East this year. Anybody here predict that on April 1? I don’t think so. I rest my case.”

Well, the Cardinals’ payroll this season is about $141 million, as per Basebal-Reference.com. And the Orioles are paying about $114 million for their soon-to-be division-winning roster. Not quite the same as $83 million.

Read more in the Journal, Daily News, Record, Star-Ledger, Newsday and SB Nation.

• Despite a Twitter hullabaloo, the Mets say no change is coming to their skyline logo. They offered no official reason why the UN Headquarters in the skyline was replaced by the Citigroup Center in the logo used on social media this week, although the internally constructed image appeared to be more than a year old. Read more in the Times (which wonders about potential hacking) and Newsday.

• Dwight Gooden predicted Jacob deGrom will become the first Met to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award since he did 30 years ago. “Striking out eight guys in a row, that really put the stamp on it for me,” Gooden told Dan Martin in the Post, referring to deGrom’s record-setting game-opening feat Monday against the Marlins. “That’s the kind of thing you need to do to get people’s attention, especially as a starting pitcher.”

Gooden told Matt Harvey last week that Harvey and deGrom have a “similar mound presence.”

Said Gooden to Martin: “They both carry themselves like veterans out there. They’re two different pitchers, but nothing rattles them.”

• The Mets nominated David Wright for the Roberto Clemente Award, which honors “the player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement."

• ESPNNewYork.com reviews which players the Mets may protect in the Rule 5 draft, which annually takes place at the winter meetings in December.

• Marc Carig in Newsday assesses Lagares’ Gold Glove chances. The award is based on manager and coach voting (75 percent) and defensive statistical metrics (25 percent). Writes Carig:

With Lagares, prestige might be the problem.

[Carlos] Gomez won the award last year and has the advantage of being an offensive force while [Andrew] McCutchen reigns as the NL's Most Valuable Player. The veteran [Denard] Span plays for a contender and [Billy] Hamilton's stolen-base prowess in the minors made him a household name before he stepped on a big-league field.

"Major League Baseball and baseball fans knew who Billy Hamilton was before he got here," said [Reds manager Bryan] Price, who naturally backed his own player for the Gold Glove award.

Pedro Martinez praised the Mets’ collection of up-and-coming pitchers, Anthony McCarron writes in the Daily News. “The Mets have the best nucleus of young pitchers,” Martinez said.

• Harvey felt no ill effects the day after his final official throwing session of 2014. Read more in the Post.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear offers a view from an empty Promenade.

BIRTHDAYS: Former captain John Franco turns 54.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you think out-of-options Wilmer Flores will be the Mets’ Opening Day shortstop next season?

Reds writer: Hamilton ROY slipping away

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
10:40
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Even in Cincinnati, in-the-know people see Jacob deGrom overtaking Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton for the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

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Reds beat writer C. Trent Rosencrans writes in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Tuesday, a day after deGrom's 13-strikeout performance against the Marlins:

We were talking in our pregame meeting with [Reds manager] Bryan Price last week about the Rookie of the Year Award, and someone said they'd bet ... any amount of money that Billy Hamilton would win. I should have taken that bet.

Hamilton, at that time, was probably the favorite. I'm not so sure he is anymore.

Rosencrans adds:

Hamilton, like his team, has struggled in the second half. And the two are likely intertwined. After hitting .285/.319/.423 in 90 games in the first half, he's hit .214/.265/.276 in 55 games since the break.

So far this month, Hamilton's hitting .156/.255/.200 has been caught stealing (2) as much as he's been successful stealing (2).

Overall, deGrom is now 8-6 with a 2.68 ERA in 21 starts. Hamilton is hitting .258 with six homers and 48 RBIs in 543 at-bats. He has a .298 on-base percentage and 56 steals in 78 attempts.

Top defensive center fielders meet in Cincy

September, 5, 2014
Sep 5
6:34
PM ET
CINCINNATI -- If there can be such a thing as a defensive duel in baseball, Juan Lagares and Billy Hamilton will be waging one this weekend in Cincinnati.

The 25-year-old Lagares, the Mets’ second-year center fielder, and Hamilton have come to be regarded as two of the National League’s top defensive center fielders. The general consensus is if one doesn’t win a Gold Glove, the other will.

“It will be a defensive showcase, for sure,” first-year Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said before Friday’s game. “I know that Lagares does a nice job. He’s been that way ever since he game to the big leagues. He’s a really nice defensive player, and he’s certainly having a nice year offensively as well. He’s doing some nice things for their club.”

New York manager Terry Collins pointed out that Hamilton, who turns 24 on Tuesday, does more than just steal bases.

“He’s gotten big hits,” Collins said. “He’s gotten game-winning hits. If we didn’t have Juan Lagares in this league, from what I’ve been hearing, everybody’s been raving about the way he’s played center field. He’s got all the tools, on both sides of the ball.”

Hamilton went into Friday’s game with 55 stolen bases, a franchise rookie record, while hitting .267. Lagares’ average was up to .284 after he went 7-for-14 while the Mets were winning two out of three at Miami. It’s not supposed to, but his surge at the plate could get him on the radar of the Gold Glove voters -- the managers and coaches.

“Word spreads in this league,” Collins said. “There are no secrets. Those 15 guys who sit in the stands every night and go from ballpark to ballpark, they spread the word fast. When you go to the ballpark, people are asking about him. You’ve got to see him. You’ve got to see him throw. The way he’s played the last week or two, if that continues, he’s going to get a lot of people’s attention.”

Two Mets outfielders have won Gold Gloves -- Tommy Agee in 1970 and Carlos Beltran in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Series preview: Mets at Reds

September, 5, 2014
Sep 5
12:18
PM ET

Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesThe Mets face Alfredo Simon, Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos this weekend in Cincinnati.
METS (66-74, fourth place/NL East) vs. CINCINNATI REDS (66-74, fourth place/NL Central)

Friday: RHP Bartolo Colon (12-11, 4.01) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (13-9, 3.28), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (6-6, 3.61) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (16-8, 2.26), 4:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (9-9, 3.45) vs. RHP Mat Latos (5-4, 3.46), 1:10 p.m. ET

Reds short hops

• Center fielder Billy Hamilton is expected to be the primary competition for Jacob deGrom in the NL Rookie of the Year competition. Hamilton, who turns 24 on Tuesday, is batting .267 with six homers and 46 RBIs and has a franchise-rookie-record 55 steals in 76 attempts. The previous franchise rookie steals record had been 54, by Bob Bescher in 1909. Hamilton has the most steals by a Reds player regardless of experience since Deion Sanders recorded 56 in 1997.

• Second baseman Brandon Phillips is 0-for-his-last-20. He missed 31 games through Aug. 17 while recovering from surgery to address a torn ligament in his left thumb.

• Shortstop Zack Cozart, who was poised to rejoin the Reds on Thursday in Baltimore after the birth of his son, instead remained in Cincinnati because of right-wrist soreness.

Johnny Cueto's 205 strikeouts are the most by a Reds pitcher in a season since Edinson Volquez notched 206 in 2008. Assuming he produces two or more Saturday, it will become the most Ks since Aaron Harang had 218 in ’07.

Alfredo Simon represented Cincinnati in the All-Star Game as a replacement for Cueto, who pitched the Sunday before the event. Simon had opened the season as the fifth starter when Mat Latos was sidelined rehabbing elbow and knee injuries.

• Right-hander Homer Bailey, who signed a six-year, $105 million contract in February, was due to undergo season-ending surgery Friday to repair a torn flexor tendon in his pitching elbow. He is expected to be ready for spring training.

• First baseman Joey Votto has been on the disabled list since July 8 with a strain in his left knee. He was hitting only .255 with six homers in 220 at-bats before landing on the DL. Of late, Todd Frazier primarily has started at first base.

• The Reds were 51-44 and 1 games out of first place at the All-Star break. They are 14-30 since resuming play.

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.

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“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
.289 9 57 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187