New York Mets: Brandon Beachy

Series preview: Mets vs. Braves

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17

Associated Press/USA TODAY SportsIdentical to the series at Turner Field, the Mets face Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana and David Hale this weekend in Queens.
METS (8-7, third place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (10-5, first place/NL East)

Friday: LHP Jonathon Niese (0-1, 3.46) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (2-1, 0.96), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Bartolo Colon (1-2, 6.00) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (1-0, 0.64), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.76) vs. RHP David Hale (0-0, 2.89), 1:10 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

Jason Heyward faces Jonathon Niese for the first time since the Mets southpaw drilled the right fielder and fractured his jaw with a 90 mph fastball last Aug. 21 at Citi Field. Heyward now wears a protective flap attached to his helmet.

Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsJason Heyward's last visit to Citi Field resulted in a broken jaw via an errant fastball from Jon Niese.

This season, Heyward is only 1-for-18 against left-handed pitching. The hit came on April 13 with a double against Washington’s Gio Gonzalez.

Heyward remains in the leadoff spot despite hitting .136 overall after an 0-for-4 performance Thursday at Philadelphia that included a pair of line-drive outs. Three of his eight hits on the season came against Zack Wheeler on April 9.

• Closer Craig Kimbrel experienced shoulder soreness during an appearance Saturday and has not appeared in a game since. He threw a 15-pitch bullpen session Wednesday and “felt great,” manager Fredi Gonzalez told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Right-hander David Carpenter converted Monday’s save in Philadelphia. Carpenter had a 1.78 ERA in 2013.

• Shortstop Andrelton Simmons struck out for the first time this season Thursday. The strikeout, against Philadelphia’s A.J. Burnett, came in Simmons’ 48th plate appearance this season. With Simmons no longer K-less, St. Louis’ Shane Robinson has the most plate appearances this season of any MLB player with no strikeouts -- a measly 10.

Evan Gattis is hitting .588 (10-for-17) with three homers, six RBIs and a 1.765 OPS in his past four games. With Brian McCann’s defection to the Yankees, Gattis exclusively has caught this season. Gattis started 47 games in left field and four games at first base in 2013.

• Left fielder Justin Upton is the reigning NL Player of the Week. He had four homers during that period, including a two-homer game against Jenrry Mejia.

• Braves starting pitchers have an MLB-best 1.58 ERA this season. Oakland starters rank second at 2.48.

Ervin Santana threw 20 straight strikes to open his Braves debut, against the Mets at Turner Field. He then limited the Phillies to one run on four hits while matching a career high with 11 strikeouts on Monday. Santana’s 0.64 ERA ranks second in the National League.

Santana signed for one year, $14.1 million on March 12 after Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy both suffered spring-training elbow injuries and ultimately required Tommy John surgery.

Aaron Harang, who finished last season with the Mets, has the third-best ERA in the NL, at 0.96. The Braves unexpectedly dumped Freddy Garcia on March 24 and signed the 35-year-old Harang for a rotation spot. Harang took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning in Milwaukee in his Braves debut. Harang had been released by the Cleveland Indians late in spring training.

• Ex-Mets reliever Pedro Beato, claimed off waivers by the Braves on April 2, was demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett six days later, during the series the Mets took two of three at Turner Field.

• Left-hander Mike Minor, on the DL with shoulder tendinitis, should be activated next week, after one more rehab start. Right-hander Gavin Floyd, signed by the Braves in December after spending seven seasons with the Chicago White Sox, also is on a rehab assignment as he nears a return from Tommy John surgery.

• First baseman Freddie Freeman ranks fourth in the NL with a .389 batting average.

Series preview: Mets at Braves

April, 7, 2014
Apr 7

Associated Press/USA TODAY SportsThe Mets will face Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana and David Hale this week at Turner Field.
METS (2-4, fifth place/NL East) at ATLANTA BRAVES (4-2, second place/NL East)

Tuesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (0-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (1-0, 0.00), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (0-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (0-0, -.--), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (1-0, 1.50) vs. RHP David Hale (0-0, 0.00), 7:10 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

Courtesy of Atlanta BravesThe Braves are wearing this patch to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron becoming MLB's home run king.

• During a pregame ceremony before Tuesday’s Braves home opener, Atlanta will recognize the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run. The shot came on April 8, 1974 and broke Babe Ruth’s record. The Braves are wearing patches this season to commemorate the anniversary. Aaron, 80, will be on hand. He underwent partial left hip replacement surgery Feb. 14 after falling on ice.

• The Braves unexpectedly dumped Freddy Garcia on March 24 and signed 35-year-old Aaron Harang for a rotation spot. Harang took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning in Milwaukee in his Braves debut. Opposing pitcher Matt Garza also took a no-hit bid into that frame. Logan Schafer’s single to lead off the bottom of the seventh ended Harang’s bid. Harang, who finished last season with the Mets, had been released by the Cleveland Indians late in spring training.

Ervin Santana signed for one-year, $14.1 million on March 12 after Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy both suffered spring-training elbow injuries and ultimately required Tommy John surgery. Santana, who had a 3.24 ERA in 32 starts for the Kansas City Royals last season, will make his Braves debut Wednesday against the Mets. He allowed six runs (five earned) in 5 1/3 innings on Friday for Triple-A Gwinnett against Durham in his final tune-up.

• Atlanta also is missing a third starting pitcher -- left-hander Mike Minor. Minor, hindered by shoulder tendinitis during spring training, logged two innings for Double-A Mississippi on Thursday in a rehab start.

• Right-hander David Hale tossed five scoreless innings in his season debut at the Washington Nationals on Friday. It was his third career major-league start. Last September, Hale limited the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies to a combined one run in 13 innings. He is a third-round pick in 2009 out of Princeton. To earn the rotation role, Hale beat out fellow rookie Gus Schlosser, who instead found a spot in the bullpen as a longer reliever.

• The Braves claimed ex-Met Pedro Beato off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.

• Brothers B.J. Upton and Justin Upton were a combined 2-for-31 with 16 strikeouts through Friday before each produced a two-hit game Saturday at Nationals Park.

• The Braves lead the majors with a 1.56 ERA.

• Closer Craig Kimbrel notched his 142nd career save Friday, passing Gene Garber for second on the franchise’s all-time list. John Smoltz owns the franchise record with 154 saves. Smoltz also won 210 games as a Brave.

• The Braves went on a late-winter signing binge, locking up several core players long term. The signings:

Feb. 5: First baseman Freddie Freeman, eight years, $135 million

Feb. 14: Right-hander Julio Teheran, six years, $32.4 million

Feb. 16: Kimbrel, four years, $42 million

Feb. 20: Shortstop Andrelton Simmons, seven years, $58 million

Right fielder Jason Heyward also signed for two years, $13.3 million on Feb. 4 to avoid arbitration.

• Simmons earned his first Gold Glove last season.

• The Braves, who have played at Turner Field since it opened for baseball the year after the 1996 Olympics, will move to a new ballpark in Cobb County for the 2017 season. The 42,000-seat stadium, which will be located 10 miles north of downtown Atlanta, is projected to cost $672 million. The Braves have disputed the publicly financed contribution to that price tag, which has been reported as $450 million.

• The probable Braves batting order:

Heyward, rf
B.J. Upton, cf
Freeman, 1b
Chris Johnson, 3b
Justin Upton, lf
Dan Uggla, 2b
Evan Gattis/Gerald Laird/Ryan Doumit, c
Simmons, ss

• Over the weekend, Heyward dealt with muscle spasms in the back of his neck that have resulted in headaches. He still wears a protective flap attached to his helmet to protect his jaw, which he fractured on a 90 mph fastball from Jonathon Niese last August.

Series preview: Mets vs. Braves

August, 19, 2013

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets face Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood during a two-game series at Citi Field.
METS (57-66, third place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (76-48, first place/NL East)

Tuesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (5-2, 3.43) vs. RHP Brandon Beachy (2-0, 4.50), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: LHP Jonathon Niese (5-6, 4.25) vs. LHP Alex Wood (2-2, 2.61), 1:10 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

Brandon Beachy made his season debut July 29 after missing 13 months recovering from Tommy John surgery. He took the rotation spot vacated by Tim Hudson, who underwent ankle surgery after getting stepped on by Eric Young Jr. at Citi Field during Atlanta’s last visit. Beachy had the NL’s best ERA at 2.00 when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on June 16, 2012 against the Baltimore Orioles.

• The Braves are 19-3 since July 26. They own a season-high 15-game lead over the second-place Washington Nationals. The last time Atlanta enjoyed a larger division lead came when it won the NL East in 2002 by 19 games over the Montreal Expos, while going 101-59.

Win McNamee/Getty ImagesJason Heyward has moved to the leadoff spot.

Craig Kimbrel has an NL-leading 39 saves. He has converted 29 straight chances, topping the previous franchise record of 27 straight set by John Smoltz from Aug. 8, 2002 through May 1, 2003. Over his past 25 appearances, Kimbrel has struck out 42 batters while allowing 10 hits and 10 walks in 25 innings.

Overall, Atlanta’s relief corps ranks first in the majors in ERA (2.40), opponent batting average (.213) and WHIP (1.11).

• Since emerging as the leadoff hitter on July 27, Jason Heyward is batting .370 (30-for-81) with five homers, 15 RBIs and a .433 on-base percentage. Andrelton Simmons, who previously occupied the leadoff spot the bulk of the time, mostly has dropped to eighth.

• Rookie Alex Wood, a second-round pick out of the University of Georgia in 2012, makes his seventh major league start -- and third career start against the Mets. In his previous two appearances against the Mets, he has allowed a combined five earned runs on 10 hits and five walks (one intentional) in 7 1/3 innings.

Jordan Schafer has started the Braves’ last four games against right-handed pitchers over B.J. Upton in center field. Upton is hitting .186 with eight homers and 21 RBIs in 317 total at-bats. He is in the first season of a five-year, $75.25 million deal.

Dan Uggla is on the DL after undergoing LASIK surgery to correct his vision. Tyler Pastornicky, Paul Janish and rookie Philip Gosselin have started at second base over the past five games in Uggla’s absence. Gosselin was promoted after Pastornicky tore the ACL in his left knee.

The Braves also have signed second baseman Tyler Greene to a minor league contact and assigned him to Triple-A. He previously was with the Chicago White Sox.

Uggla ranked second on the Braves in homers with 21 and had a team-leading 62 walks when he landed on the DL. But he also had the worst batting average (.186) among major league qualifiers and led the NL in strikeouts (146).

• Left-hander Paul Maholm, on the disabled list since July 29 with a bruised left wrist, is nearing a return after making a rehab start Saturday with Class A Rome.

Series preview: Mets vs. Braves

July, 21, 2013

Getty ImagesThe Mets face (l to r) Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen and Tim Hudson the opening three games of the series.
METS (43-51, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (55-43, first place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Dillon Gee (7-7, 4.32) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (7-5, 3.35), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Carlos Torres (0-1, 0.79) vs. RHP Kris Medlen (6-9, 3.64), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (4-7, 3.93) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (7-7, 4.08), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-1, 3.58) vs. LHP Paul Maholm (9-9, 4.41), 12:10 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

• The depleted Braves outfield is expected to get Jason Heyward back Monday from a right hamstring strain, which he suffered sliding into third base on July 11. Heyward is due to play center field, where he has only appeared in four career games at the major league level. Heyward will return to right field once B.J. Upton returns from the disabled list.

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsFreddie Freeman had to sit out the All-Star Game with a thumb injury.

• Left-hander Paul Maholm was sent home to Atlanta to have his sprained left wrist checked, leaving in doubt his availability for Thursday’s start against the Mets. Brandon Beachy or rookie Alex Wood are the likely alternatives if Maholm is unable to start. Maholm injured the wrist batting July 10. He then departed Saturday’s start when the issue flared up. He is 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA this month.

Beachy has made eight minor league starts since returning from 2012 Tommy John surgery. Wood, a southpaw, had been dispatched to Triple-A before the All-Star break to get continued work.

• Right-handed reliever Kameron Loe, who was signed by the Braves on May 11 after appearances with the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners this season, was promoted Sunday.

Freddie Freeman, who attended but could not participate in the All-Star Game due to injury, returned Saturday after missing two starts with a jammed left thumb. He had suffered the injury applying a tag at first base. Freeman had beaten out Yasiel Puig in the “Final Vote” among fans for an All-Star Game berth. He was replaced by teammate Brian McCann. Freeman entered Friday’s game as a defensive replacement and had a first-base collision right away with Adam Dunn, but showed no ill effects.

• McCann has homered in three of his past four games.

• Left fielder Justin Upton returned Friday after missing the final two games before the All-Star break with a calf injury.

• Backup catcher Gerald Laird left Sunday’s game with a bruised left hand in the fourth inning after being hit by a pitch. Evan Gattis returned Sunday after missing 24 games with a right oblique strain. Gattis had started the game in left field before shifting to first base once Laird departed.

• Second baseman Dan Uggla has 19 homers, matching his 2012 total.

• Closer Craig Kimbrel has converted 17 straight saves. Since blowing a save on May 7 at Cincinnati, Kimbrel has allowed one run and 12 hits while striking out 36 in 23 innings.

Kimbrel is the first player in franchise history to reach the 20-save plateau in each of his first three seasons in the majors. With three more saves, he will match John Smoltz as the only closers in Braves history with three 30-save seasons.

• Atlanta’s 29 come-from-behind wins lead the National League.

Reed Johnson has five hits in his past six pinch-hit appearances.

Series preview: Mets at Braves

June, 17, 2013

USA TODAY SportsZack Wheeler draws Paul Maholm in the top prospect's major league debut.
METS (25-39, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (41-28, first place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Dillon Gee (5-6, 4.84) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (4-6, 4.41), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Matt Harvey (5-1, 2.04) vs. LHP Alex Wood (0-0, 3.52), 1:10 p.m. ET; RHP Zack Wheeler (4-2, 3.93 at Triple-A Las Vegas) vs. LHP Paul Maholm (7-5, 3.65), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-8, 5.43) vs. RHP Kris Medlen (3-7, 3.09), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-6, 4.15) vs. LHP Mike Minor (8-2, 2.68), 7:10 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

Brandon Beachy, who intended to return from the disabled list for a Tuesday start against the Mets, had a setback in his rehab from Tommy John surgery and will remain on the DL. Beachy had elbow soreness during a three-inning minor league start Thursday, although a subsequent MRI revealed no structural damage.

Rookie Alex Wood instead should make his first major league start, after six relief appearances. Wood, a second-round pick in 2012 out of the University of Georgia, last started with Double-A Mississippi five days before his May 30 major league promotion.

Justin Upton is averaging 427.9 feet per homer, the top distance in the majors. Mike Napoli ranks second at 422.1 feet.

Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesB.J. Upton's production has improved in June.

B.J. Upton entered Sunday 4-for-43 with runners in scoring position this season, the lowest average in the NL, although he did then have an RBI double in the rubber-game win against the San Francisco Giants. He signed a five-year, $75.25 million contract as a free agent during the offseason.

After producing a .230 on-base percentage and .245 slugging percentage entering June, B.J. Upton is 11-for-44 with four homers, eight RBIs and nine walks in June. He has climbed from eighth to seventh to sixth in the batting order over the past week.

• Catcher Evan Gattis has claimed both NL Rookie of the Month Awards this season. He is 6-for-8 with four homers as a pinch hitter this season. Gattis is the first Braves player with four pinch-hit homers in a season since Tommy Gregg in 1990. The franchise record is five pinch-hit homers, by Butch Nieman in 1945.

• Shortstop Andrelton Simmons’ 2.3 dWAR rating makes him the most valuable fielder statistically in MLB. Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado ranks second at 2.0.

Simmons, 23, could become the youngest shortstop ever to win the NL Gold Glove, and the youngest shortstop overall since Alan Trammell in 1980. Like Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius and No. 1-rated prospect Jurickson Profar of the Texas Rangers, Simmons is a shortstop from Curacao. Gregorius, incidentally, did not play shortstop until age 16 because for the previous decade he played second base in the same infield with Simmons.

• Second baseman Dan Uggla is on pace to become the first Braves player to lead the NL in strikeouts since Dale Murphy in 1985. Uggla is missing on a league-high 38 percent of his swings.

Kris Medlen’s 1.95 ERA since last year’s All-Star break leads the majors. Medlen homered while tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium on June 8. He joined Tim Hudson and Mike Minor in homering this season. The last time three Braves pitchers homered in the same season: 1999, with Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Kevin Millwood.

• The Braves are 23-8 at Turner Field this season. Their 2.32 home ERA is on track to be a franchise record since moving to Atlanta, topping a 2.48 home staff ERA in 1968. It also is on pace for the best home ERA for any team since the 1988 Mets had a 2.31 ERA at Shea Stadium.

• Atlanta leads the NL in homers, yet has been shut out nine times this season, tied with Miami for the major league lead.

Juan Francisco was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers on June 3 for minor league left-hander Thomas Keeling, affirming Chris Johnson as the primary third baseman, with occasional appearances by ex-Yankee Ramiro Pena.

Brian McCann produced his 1,000th career hit on June 3. He is the fourth catcher in Braves history to reach that plateau, joining Del Crandall (1,176), Javy Lopez (1,148) and Joe Torre (1,087).

Series preview: Mets vs. Braves

May, 23, 2013

This weekend at Citi Field, the Mets face (left to right) Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran.
METS (17-27, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (28-18, first place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-5, 5.00) vs. RHP Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.02), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.04) vs. LHP Mike Minor (5-2, 2.78), 7:15 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-5, 6.59) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.99), 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

Braves short hops

• Left fielder Justin Upton, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Jan. 24, is tied with Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the MLB lead in homers with 14. Upton became the first player in major league history to homer five times in his first five games with a team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• Right fielder Jason Heyward is hitting .304 with two RBIs in six games since returning from the disabled list Friday. Heyward underwent an appendectomy on April 22. He missed 22 games. He was hitting .121 when he landed on the DL.

• Center fielder B.J. Upton (.155, 4 HRs, 7 RBIs) snapped an 0-for-16 skid Saturday. He then homered Wednesday for the first time since April 23. He has yet to record a hit in three straight games, and will be bidding to accomplish that Friday at Citi Field.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Evan Gattis has an MLB rookie-leading 10 homers.

• Catcher Brian McCann made his season debut May 6 after recovering from Oct. 16, 2012 shoulder surgery.

The Braves are now carrying six relievers and three catchers: McCann, rookie phenom Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird.

Gattis hit an opposite-field grand slam on a 3-0 pitch from Minnesota’s Vance Worley on Wednesday, in the catcher’s first start in eight days. He has 10 homers, which lead major league rookies, in only 122 at-bats. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has struggled to find playing time for Gattis in the three-catcher alignment. Gattis also can play first base or left field, but those are occupied.

• The Braves lost a pair of top-notch relievers to Tommy John surgery in a six-day span. Lefty Jonny Venters, who had not appeared this season, underwent the procedure last Thursday; this was his second Tommy John surgery. Fellow southpaw Eric O'Flaherty, who had held lefty batters to a .143 average this season, underwent the elbow procedure Tuesday.

Atlanta pitchers have undergone a spate of Tommy John surgeries -- seven among major leaguers in the past five years, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The recipients: Peter Moylan (May 2008), Tim Hudson (August 2008), Kris Medlen (August 2010), Arodys Vizcaino (March 2012), Brandon Beachy (June 2012), Venters and O’Flaherty.

• The Braves have a 2.79 bullpen ERA, narrowly behind the San Francisco Giants (2.77) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2.78) for the MLB lead. Craig Kimbrel notched his 100th career save on May 9, becoming the second-youngest to reach that plateau (24 years, 348 days). Only ex-Met Francisco Rodriguez (24 years, 246 days) was younger.

• Since O’Flaherty landed on the DL, Triple-A closer Cory Rasmus was promoted. He's the younger brother of Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus. Cory made his major league debut Wednesday. The siblings’ brother Casey is a 23-year-old catcher who is hitting .300 for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Class A Peoria affiliate.

• Beachy is set to begin a rehab assignment, so Atlanta will have to create a rotation spot soon.

• Reliever Jordan Walden (shoulder) is not eligible to be activated from the DL until after the Mets series.

• With their bullpen injuries, Atlanta signed lefty reliever Joe Beimel, 36, to a minor league contract. He also is returning from Tommy John surgery.

Andrelton Simmons is the only every-day shortstop without an error.

Dan Uggla (.182, 8 HRs, 16 RBIs) is 3-for-35 with 13 strikeouts in his last 10 starts. Ramiro Pena has started two games at second base in the past week.

Julio Teheran is coming off an outing in which he allowed one run in 8 1/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins.

• Medlen limited the Los Angeles Dodgers to one run (unearned) in seven innings in his last start. The Braves are 3-6 in Medlen's starts this season. Entering this year, Atlanta had won 23 straight games started by Medlen -- the most in one pitcher’s starts in major league history.

• The Braves arrive in New York off a 6-0 homestand, during which they swept the Dodgers and Twins.

Mets morning briefing 4.3.12

April, 3, 2012
The Mets face the Yankees at 2:10 p.m. today in Port St. Lucie -- the first spring-training meeting between the clubs since March 30, 1996, at Tampa. After the game, the Mets break camp and bus across the state. They will play one final Grapefruit League game, at 12:05 p.m. Wednesday against the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese work today, opposite Ivan Nova.

Tuesday's news reports:

• Before departing to get an MRI on Monday, Frank Francisco acknowledged his ailing left knee was drained Sunday. Terry Collins expressed concern with the health of his closer and said he had not considered whom he otherwise might use in that role. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Record, Daily News, Post and Times.

Bobby Parnell required only 39 pitches to toss three scoreless innings against the Braves at Disney, upping his scoreless streak to 12 1/3 innings in Grapefruit League play. Parnell was being stretched out for multiple-inning usage during the regular season. Ruben Tejada added a three-run homer against Brandon Beachy and the Mets beat Atlanta, 8-2, Monday.

• Niese acknowledged his representatives were engaged in substantive talks with the Mets about a long-term extension -- expected to be five years with two team options. That would lock up Niese for one to three seasons that he would be eligible for free agency, depending upon whether the Mets exercise those options. ESPN Stats & Information's Mark Simon shows the statistics underlying why the Mets want to make a five-year commitment (plus the team options) to the southpaw.

• In his debut column in the Post, columnist Ken Davidoff agrees locking up Niese may be wise. Writes Davidoff:

You can’t worry too much about Niese’s career ERA of 4.39. No well-run team does. The ERA measurement relies too heavily on defense and luck. The statistic FIP -- Fielding Independent Pitching, using only walks, strikeouts and home runs -- is considered a better predictor of a pitcher’s future than ERA. Niese’s career FIP, which is calculated to look like an ERA, is 3.77.

You can worry, however, about the lack of innings pitched. The player most often compared to Niese these past couple of days has been Derek Holland, whom the Rangers gave a five-year, $28-million extension last month. Holland has two years and 120 days of big-league service to Niese’s two years and 107 days. But Holland threw 198 innings in the 2011 regular season and another 24 in the postseason, twirling an 8 1/3-inning, two-hit, no-run masterpiece to defeat the Cardinals in World Series Game 4. Niese? He didn’t pitch after Aug. 23 last year, going down with a rib-cage injury and finishing with 157 1/3 innings. And in 2010, when he set the career ceiling of 173 2/3 innings, he wore down at season’s end, putting up a 4.89 FIP in 25 1/3 September innings.

• Center fielder Andres Torres predicted he would make his first Grapefruit League appearance since March 20 in today's game, signaling his strained left calf will not force him to the disabled list to open the season. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post and Daily News.

• Mets executive VP Dave Howard tells Mike Puma in the Post that "several thousand" tickets remain available for Thursday's opener at Citi Field.

David Lennon in Newsday did a Q&A with Ike Davis. Included is this exchange:

You pitched some at Arizona State and finished your college career with a 7-5 record and four saves. Do you ever miss pitching?

Davis : "I was a pitcher all my life. I miss it. It's fun. It's part of the game that I enjoyed doing and I was decent at it. But I have so many other things to worry about. Sometimes later in the game ... I'm like, 'Man, this is when I used to come in,' and [think] how much fun that used to be. But then I remember I've got to worry about catching the ball at first base. I threw a fastball, slider. I was working on a split. I threw a changeup a couple times in my life. It was very good and then it was awful. I never was consistent with it so I scrapped it."

David Waldstein in the Times notes the Yankees, in their first visit to Port St. Lucie since 1995, won't bring many of their stars. No Derek Jeter. No Alex Rodriguez. No Mariano Rivera. Waldstein then traces the fascinating history of intra-city games among New York teams, including October battles more than a century ago between the Yankees and New York Giants when neither team was involved in the World Series. Waldstein reports that the dormant Mets-Yankees spring-training matchups were rekindled because the Yankees had two open dates this week and their traveling secretary Ben Tuliebitz called the Mets, who accepted. Writes Waldstein about George Steinbrenner's legendary intensity when facing the Mets, even in spring training:

For Steinbrenner, beating the Mets was always a priority. “The Boss wanted to win all 162 games and 30 in spring training,” said the former Yankees closer Rich Gossage. “As players, we couldn’t care less, but it was like it’s the seventh game of the World Series,” Gossage said of spring training matchups with the Mets. “It was like he would rather win that game than win a World Series.” ... According to Gossage, Steinbrenner would march through the clubhouse before the games to let everyone know that he wanted to beat the Mets. Who cared if the Mets weren’t any good? The Yankees’ manager -- maybe Billy Martin in one of his countless stints -- would hear about it, too. “If you didn’t play well in those games he might send you to Triple-A,” said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, an assistant in those days. “It was kind of crazy. He wanted to win those games badly; everyone knew it.”

Brian Costa in the Journal also addresses the rekindled spring-training matchup and Steinbrenner's passion to win those games. "The starters were out after five innings, and the subs went in," Tim Teufel, a former second baseman on the Mets and now their third base coach, told Costa. "It wasn't like this was a true read on the two teams. It was a spring training-managed game."

Mike Kerwick in the Record has a nuts and bolts Mets season preview.

TRIVIA: Which pitcher led Triple-A Buffalo in strikeouts last season?

Monday's answer: Mike Hampton started for the Mets on Opening Day in 2000, against the Chicago Cubs at the Tokyo Dome, launching a season in which the Mets reached the World Series.

Mets 8, Braves 2: Bobby posts more zeroes

April, 2, 2012

Bobby Parnell arrived at spring training with no lock on a bullpen spot, since he had a minor league option remaining. He finished his exhibition workload by tossing three scoreless innings at ESPN Wide World of Sports as the Mets beat the Braves, 8-2, Monday. And Parnell easily was the top reliever in camp.

Parnell, who is unlikely to appear in either of the Mets’ final two exhibition games after tossing 39 pitches against Atlanta, finished Grapefruit League play having tossed 12 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed only seven hits and two walks while striking out 10.

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Bobby Parnell tossed 12 1/3 scoreless Grapefruit League innings.

Ruben Tejada had a three-run homer off Brandon Beachy and Mets minor leaguers scored four ninth-inning runs in the victory. Prospect Wilfredo Tovar went 3-for-4 with a double and scored three times while starting at second base.

Parnell started because the Mets did not want Jon Niese facing the same opponent he is lined up to face Sunday, in Game 3 of the regular season. Mike Pelfrey and Niese instead both will work Tuesday against the Yankees in Port St. Lucie.

Parnell has not started a regular-season game since late in the 2009 season, during an ill-fated eight-start audition for a rotation spot for the following season.

Terry Collins and Dan Warthen wanted to get Parnell’s pitch count up to about 40 on Monday so that he would be ready to pitch in multiple-inning spurts if required during the regular season. Parnell was so efficient with his pitches, he ended up logging three innings.

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Bartolo Colon
15 4.09 151 202
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187