New York Mets: Bryce Harper

Morning Briefing: It's safe, Nats leave town

August, 15, 2014
Aug 15
5:23
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Sharknado? No. Just the Washington Nationals.

After a woeful series against the D.C. ballclub, the Mets now entertain the Chicago Cubs in a four-game wraparound series at Citi Field.

Zack Wheeler (7-8, 3.53 ERA) opposes left-hander Travis Wood (7-9, 4.86) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. opener.

Read the Mets-Cubs series preview here.

Friday’s news reports:

• Terry Collins ruled out Matt Harvey pitching in games in 2014 and told the ace during a phone conversation Thursday to stop pushing so hard and jeopardizing next season. “Back off,” the manager told Harvey. Collins also told Harvey not to do radio interviews during Mets games. Sandy Alderson also spoke with Harvey.

Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post writes:

He has become the 2.0 version of Manny being Manny. Oh, that is just Harvey being Harvey.

The Mets insist it is not malicious by Matt Harvey, mostly just immaturity or defiance, and they claim the defiance betrays a stubbornness and resolve that will serve him well back on the mound as an ace in New York.

This is spin greater than you will find on Harvey’s slider. Mets officials have mainly mastered the eye roll when it comes to this behavior. But there is a weariness that has set in, as well, when Harvey, say, was told he could have a few days off after enduring some knee pain during his rehab and -- next thing they knew -- he had posted an Instagram photo with his buddies vacationing in Cape Cod. During the season. Terry Collins said he talked to Harvey about how bad that looked.

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

Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper homered against Dillon Gee and the Mets were swept by the Nationals with a 4-1 loss Thursday. Washington has won 11 straight games at Citi Field -- the longest winning streak by a visiting team against the Mets in franchise history. Gee walked a batter ahead of both homers. The Mets went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position in the series.

After the Mets were swept, Collins addressed the players and told them the season is not lost.

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

• Countering a CBSSports.com report that Collins is “likely” to return as manager barring a Mets collapse, Sherman in the Post asserts Collins in Queens in 2015 is far from assured.

“I like Terry. I have a good relationship with him,” David Wright told the Daily News. “Terry has my back and I have his.”

• Mark Simon at ESPNNewYork.com has a baseball-themed Q&A with Mets fan and comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

• Stephen Hayes in Newsday discusses the improvements Wheeler has made.

• A day after the Colorado Rockies announced shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will have season-ending hip surgery for a torn labrum, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is done for the season, too. Gonzalez will undergo surgery Monday to repair a left patella tendon tear, Nick Groke writes in the Denver Post.

• The Mets re-signed 40-year-old Bobby Abreu to a minor-league contract and have assigned him to Triple-A Las Vegas. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• The Mets inked 16-year-old Venezuelan infielder Kenny Hernandez for a reported $1 million signing bonus.

• Sunday is the one-year anniversary of Travis d'Arnaud's major league debut, notes Joe Lemire in the Journal.

• Although Jacob deGrom feels good and expects to reenter the rotation next Saturday at Dodger Stadium, he has yet to return to a mound.

• Matt Reynolds homered twice, including a solo shot in the top of the 12th, but Chasen Bradford allowed two runs in the bottom half as Iowa beat Las Vegas, 6-5. Jayce Boyd went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in Binghamton’s 9-4 win against Erie. Beck Wheeler walked the bases loaded and forced in the winning run by hitting a batter in St. Lucie’s 9-8 walk-off loss at Fort Myers. Logan Taylor tossed 8 2/3 scoreless innings as Savannah blanked Greenville, 4-0. Ivan Wilson homered twice in Kingsport’s 5-3 win against Bristol. Read the full minor-league recap here.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear makes the case for informed impatience where Met progress is concerned. ... Blogging Mets ventures into Alderson's head.

BIRTHDAYS: Oliver Perez turns 33. ... Duffy Dyer is 69. ... Kingsport Mets right-hander Gaby Almonte is 22.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Would you be concerned about acquiring Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez given their injury histories?

Rapid Reaction: Nats 4, Mets 1

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
10:03
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The Mets made history Thursday, and not good history.

With a 4-1 victory in the series finale, the division-leading Washington Nationals won their 11th straight game in Queens. That's the longest-ever winning streak by a visiting team against the Mets. The Atlanta Braves won 10 straight games at Shea Stadium in 1991 and '92.

The Nats are 25-4 at Citi Field since September 2011. They now lead the Mets (57-65) by 10½ games in the NL East.

Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper produced two-run homers against Dillon Gee as Washington grabbed a 4-0 lead.

LaRoche, who went deep on an 0-2 offering, now has 27 career homers against the Mets. Among active players, that trails only a trio of Phillies -- Ryan Howard (40), Chase Utley (33) and Jimmy Rollins (30).

Three of Harper's six homers this season have come against the Mets.

The Nats have 29 homers during their 11-game Citi Field winning streak.

Gee’s line: 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K's, 2 HR. He is 0-4 with a 5.60 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break.

The Mets' lone run against Stephen Strasburg, which was unearned, came in the fourth when Daniel Murphy reached on an infield single, advanced to second on an error, ill-advisedly stole third and scored on Lucas Duda's sacrifice fly.

The Amazin's went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position in the series. After placing runners at first and second base with none out in the sixth, Murphy grounded into a double play and David Wright struck out.

Streaking: Wright produced a hit for the 13th straight game with a first-inning single against Strasburg. It matches the longest hitting streak by a Met this season. Juan Lagares had an identical streak April 5 through May 4.

However, during Wright's 13-game hitting streak, he has only one extra-base hit: a double last Thursday against Washington’s Craig Stammen in D.C.

Back to work: In his first action since suffering the loss Sunday and revealing he had a hernia, Jenrry Mejia tossed a perfect ninth. … Carlos Torres, who surrendered a homer in each of his past four appearances, recorded four outs without issue. Torres inherited the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh from Josh Edgin and struck out Ian Desmond.

What’s next: The Chicago Cubs make their lone 2014 visit to Citi Field for a four-game wraparound series. Zack Wheeler (7-8, 3.53 ERA) opposes left-hander Travis Wood (7-9, 4.86) in Friday's 7:10 p.m. opener. Wheeler is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his past eight starts.

Rapid Reaction: Nationals 7, Mets 1

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
10:22
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Rafael Montero didn't look even a bit different.

His pitch count quickly got out of control. Baseballs quickly flew out of the park. He started a game, and the New York Mets lost.

So much for the idea that Montero was now pitching like "the guy we'd heard about," as manager Terry Collins said Tuesday afternoon. On the first day of his second stay with the Mets, Montero instead pitched like the same erratic 23-year-old they saw the last time, when he made four unsuccessful starts in May.

Pitching against the first-place Washington Nationals, Montero allowed five runs on seven hits, including home runs by Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Ian Desmond. He threw 101 pitches and got only 15 outs, and the Mets lost, 7-1.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Montero was promoted on "merit" when New York needed a starter to take Jacob deGrom's spot while deGrom is on the disabled list. The Mets also no doubt hoped that Montero would look impressive enough to either make a case for a rotation spot next season or add to his value as a trade chip.

Perhaps he still will, but it didn't happen Tuesday night.

It's a National Citi: Is there any team more comfortable at Citi Field than the Nationals? Washington has won nine consecutive games against the Mets in New York, and is 23-4 at Citi Field since Sept. 11, 2011.

The Nationals have scored at least seven runs in three of their four games at Citi Field this year. The Mets have scored seven runs just eight times in 56 home games.

It's a Fister Citi, too: Nationals starter Doug Fister was pitching at Citi Field for just the second time, but both games were outstanding. Fister shut out the Mets on seven hits in seven innings Tuesday, which means he has now pitched 13⅓ innings here while allowing just one run.

Is that Wright? David Wright extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning single that tipped off the glove of Rendon at third base. Wright, who also singled in the eighth inning, has 14 hits during the streak -- 13 singles and one double.

"He's getting hits," Collins said Tuesday afternoon. "That's all I care about right now."

Raining on Bryce: Arizona's Aaron Hill lost a home run to rain earlier this season at Citi Field, when a May 23 game in which he went deep off Bartolo Colon had to be stopped after 3½ innings and couldn't be resumed. The same thing could have happened to Harper on Tuesday. He homered off Montero in the second inning, and rain came in the top of the third.

In this case, though, the rainstorm was heavy but brief, and the game resumed after just a 25-minute delay. It rained again later in the game, but the umpires decided it wasn't too heavy and allowed the game to go on.

Span stopped: The Mets did keep Nationals leadoff man Denard Span off base, ending a streak that had seen him reach via hit or walk in 36 straight games dating back to June 28. Span went 0-for-5 on Tuesday.

What's next: Colon (11-9, 3.97), who earned his 200th career win over the weekend in Philadelphia, goes for No. 201 on Wednesday night at Citi Field. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (7-5, 3.06) starts for the Nationals.

Series preview: Mets vs. Nationals

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
6:30
PM ET

Getty ImagesThe Mets are due to face Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg at Citi Field.
METS (57-62, fourth place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (63-53, first place/NL East)

Tuesday: RHP Rafael Montero (0-2, 5.40) vs. RHP Doug Fister (11-3, 2.49), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (11-9, 3.97) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (7-5, 3.06), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-4, 3.54) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (8-10, 3.68), 7:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• Center fielder Denard Span has reached base safely via hit or walk in 36 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors, and the second-longest streak in Nationals history. Ryan Zimmerman holds the franchise record, with 43 straight games reaching base in 2008. The longest streak in the majors this season belongs to Toronto’s Jose Bautista, with 37 straight games reaching base, through May 10.

Span also has a 14-game hitting streak. He has 23 steals. That is approaching the career-high 26 steals he produced in 2010.

Stephen Strasburg is 1-8 with a 5.25 ERA in 12 road starts this season. Overall, he already has surrendered 18 homers in 2014, two more than his previous career high. Strasburg nonetheless has a National League-best 186 strikeouts.


Jonathan Ernst/Getty ImagesDenard Span has reached base in 36 straight games.


• Outfielder Steven Souza landed on the disabled list with a bruised left shoulder, which he suffered in a collision with the right-field wall Friday at Atlanta while trying to catch Freddie Freeman's homer. Outfielder Michael Taylor has been promoted. He hit a combined .315 with 22 homers and 63 RBIs with Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse this season.

Souza was filling in Friday because Jayson Werth was sidelined with right shoulder and ankle soreness for two weekend games. Werth returned to the starting lineup Sunday night.

Werth earned the NL Player of the Month award for July. He hit .337 with six homers and an NL-leading 24 RBIs during the month.

Bryce Harper created a stir Saturday in Atlanta when he partially wiped out the “A” in the dirt behind the batter’s box at Turner Field. Fans lustily booed him the remainder of the series. Harper denied intent.

Meanwhile, manager Matt Williams vehemently said last week there is no intention of demoting Harper, who recently had struggled. Williams has asked Harper to bunt less frequently.

• The Braves snapped an eight-game losing streak and won two of three weekend games against Washington to pull within 3˝ games of the first-place Nats. The middle game ended at 2:29 a.m. Sunday. It was delayed by rain at the beginning for three hours, 41 minutes.

• The Nats acquired free-agent-to-be Asdrubal Cabrera and cash from the Cleveland Indians at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline for 24-year-old infielder Zach Walters. The intent is for Cabrera, 28, to primarily play second base, displacing switch-hitting Danny Espinosa in the lead role at that position. Cabrera, an All-Star with the Indians in 2011 and ’12, last had started at second base in 2009 (28 games). He could be a Mets candidate to sign for shortstop during the upcoming offseason.

Doug Fister is 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA when pitching on extra rest this season, which he will do again Tuesday.

• Zimmerman is expected to miss most if not all of the remainder of the regular season with a Grade 3 right hamstring strain -- the most severe of the levels. Zimmerman originally suffered the injury on July 22 at Colorado. Anthony Rendon has shifted from second to third base minus Zimmerman, which helped fuel Cabrera’s acquisition.

• The Nationals claimed left-handed reliever Matt Thornton from the Yankees last week. Thornton made his D.C. debut against the Mets last Wednesday. Thornton is under contract for next season at $3.5 million.

• Catcher Wilson Ramos did not appear in last week’s series against the Mets in D.C. He was on paternity leave for the opening two games, then went unused in the series finale.

• First baseman Adam LaRoche had a rough July, hitting .159 (14-for-88) with one homer. He then got on track against the Mets last week. LaRoche went 6-for-11 with two homers, three RBIs and three walks during the three-game series. LaRoche’s father Dave continues to fill in as pitching coach with the Brooklyn Cyclones. He is subbing for Tom Signore, who is dealing with a head-related injury, which Signore suffered getting struck with a baseball while filling in for Frank Viola with Las Vegas.

• Washington has the top run differential in the National League at plus-79.

• Closer Rafael Soriano became the 46th pitcher to notch 200 saves on July 27.

• Shortstop Ian Desmond's 70 RBIs rank fourth in the NL. Desmond launched his 19th homer of the season on Sunday.

• Struggling backup outfielder Nate McLouth landed on the disabled list last Monday with right shoulder inflammation. He has hit only .173 this season.

Morning Briefing: Colon milestone looms

August, 8, 2014
Aug 8
5:25
AM ET
WASHINGTON

FIRST PITCH: Bartolo Colon may not be going anywhere until the offseason anyway, but whether he is eligible to be traded this month remains to be determined.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that while Curtis Granderson is currently on waivers, the Mets have not yet put Colon through the process.

If a player is claimed, the Mets can dump the contract on that team, work out a trade, or pull the player back. Pulling the player back makes him ineligible to be dealt this month. If a player clears waivers, he can be dealt without restriction in August.


David Goldman/Associated PressBartolo Colon takes his second crack at career win No. 200 on Friday in Philly.


Meanwhile, Colon (10-9, 4.12 ERA) again bids for his 200th career win Friday. He opposes Philadelphia Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett (6-11, 4.16) at 7:05 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park, in the opener to a four-game series.

With a victory, Colon would become the third active pitcher to reach the 200-win plateau, joining Tim Hudson (213 career wins) and CC Sabathia (208). Colon also would become the third Dominican-born pitcher, joining Juan Marichal (243) and Pedro Martinez (219).

Two pitchers have notched No. 200 as a Met: Orel Hershiser and Martinez.

Read the Mets-Phillies series preview here.

Friday’s news reports:

Carlos Torres surrendered a walk-off two-run homer to Bryce Harper in the 13th as Washington beat the Mets, 5-3, in Thursday’s rubber game. Torres has allowed five homers in eight innings over his last seven relief appearances.

Jenrry Mejia tossed one inning, but no more, because of calf stiffness.

Jacob deGrom had a quality start (three runs in six innings). The NL Rookie of the Month for July came away with a no-decision as his five-game streak of winning starts ended.

Juan Lagares departed on a double-switch in the eighth, and Terry Collins expressed no reservations.

David Wright says the Mets -- now 54-61, nine games back in the division and eight games back in the wild card -- need to take things one game at a time.

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

• Read more on Mejia’s cranky calf in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post wonders about Collins’ future. The manager is under contract for next season. Writes Vaccaro:

Too many games have played out this way, truth be told, with him making some truly head-scratching decisions. Look, if most of them worked, you would salute his gut and his guts, and he would be praised for some unconventional thinking. But that’s the chance you take. And plays like [Eric] Young [Jr.]’s offer further evidence that Collins probably went too far to the other side after spending his early managerial years as a self-admitted tyrant. There seems little to fear inside the Mets clubhouse.

At this point, he deserves the rest of the season. He deserves another job in the organization, back in player development, where his true talent lies. But when Harper’s ball sailed over the Samuel Adams sign, it effectively ended the Mets for 2014, and put everyone on the clock for 2015. That ticking starts in the manager’s office.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News pronounces the Mets’ season over. Columnist David Lennon in Newsday agrees.

Writes Harper:

Can we officially be done with the silly talk that has lingered about the Mets making some late-season run at the playoffs?

Writes Lennon:

The Mets can stop the pretending now.

• After three straight solid outings, Noah Syndergaard allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits and four walks in a 102-pitch effort that lasted five innings Thursday. Jayce Boyd’s two-run double in the eighth broke a scoreless tie as Binghamton blanked Richmond, 3-0. Cam Maron had three errors in addition to producing a pair of doubles as Fort Myers beat St. Lucie, 6-2. Martires Arias tossed six scoreless innings in Brooklyn’s 4-0 win against Mahoning Valley. Dowling College product Tyler Badamo earned his first professional win as the GCL Mets beat the GCL Cards, 5-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Critic Bob Raissman in the Daily News wonders why Gary, Keith and Ron objected to Tuesday’s SNY extensive coverage of Matt Harvey's mound session in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

BIRTHDAYS: John Hudek was born on this date in 1966.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets promote Noah Syndergaard now?

Rapid Reaction: Nats 5, Mets 3 (13)

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
5:11
PM ET
WASHINGTON -- At least Jacob deGrom wasn’t tagged with the loss.

Carlos Torres, the last remaining reliever, surrendered a two-run homer to Bryce Harper in bottom of the 13th as the Mets suffered a 5-3 walk-off defeat against the Nationals in the rubber game on Thursday afternoon. Torres has surrendered at least one run in four of his past five appearances. He did not record an out.

The Mets (54-61) dropped nine games behind first-place Washington.

Off the hook: A quality start was not enough to prolong deGrom’s winning streak, but a seventh-inning rally saved the rookie right-hander from getting tagged with a loss.

With the Mets trailing 3-1, deGrom departed for pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the seventh. The Mets evened the score that inning against Jordan Zimmermann and Drew Storen.

DeGrom’s winning streak nonetheless was snapped at five straight starts, two shy of matching the franchise rookie record shared by Jason Isringhausen (1995), Ron Darling (1984) and Dwight Gooden (1984).

DeGrom’s franchise rookie record streak of 67 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing a homer also ended. Ian Desmond produced a two-run shot in the second inning to open the game’s scoring. DeGrom had not surrendered a homer since June 5, to Travis Wood at Wrigley Field.

Desmond plated Adam LaRoche for the second time in the game on an RBI single in the fourth to stake Washington to a 3-1 lead.

DeGrom’s final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR. He now is 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA for the season.

Rally time: Nieuwenhuis improved to 7-for-17 as a pinch hitter this season when he delivered a one-out single in the seventh that advanced Wilmer Flores to second and chased Zimmermann. Storen entered and uncorked a wild pitch with Eric Young Jr. batting that advanced both runners.

E.Y. Jr. then smoked a liner to right-center. Jayson Werth ran it down in the gap, but Flores tagged up and scored to move the Mets within 3-2. Curtis Granderson, in the midst of a 1-for-23 rut, then singled past Desmond at shortstop and into center field to plate Nieuwenhuis and even the score at 3.

Hit man: Daniel Murphy continued to torment Zimmermann. Murphy went 3-for-3 against the ace, including an RBI double in the third that pulled the Mets within 2-1. Murphy has 16 hits against Zimmermann, the most of any major leaguer.

Get out of the way: In only his second start since July 26, E.Y. Jr. arguably cost the Mets a run. Young stepped in front of Juan Lagares in left-center and fielded Desmond’s fourth-inning single. E.Y. Jr. casually returned the ball to the infield, allowing LaRoche to score from second base.

All aboard! The Mets take Amtrak to Philly for a four-game wraparound series. Bartolo Colon (10-9, 4.12 ERA) opposes Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett (6-11, 4.16) in Friday’s 7:05 p.m. opener at Citizens Bank Park.

Series preview: Mets at Nats

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4
11:43
PM ET

Getty ImagesThe Mets are due to face Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann in D.C.
METS (53-59, fourth place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (60-50, first place/NL East)

Tuesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (6-8, 3.60) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-7, 3.88), 7:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: LHP Jonathon Niese (5-7, 3.24) vs. RHP Doug Fister (10-3, 2.68), 7:05 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Jacob deGrom (6-5, 2.77) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (7-5, 3.00), 12:35 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• The Nats acquired free-agent-to-be Asdrubal Cabrera and cash from the Cleveland Indians at Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline for 24-year-old infielder Zach Walters. The intent is for Cabrera, 28, to primarily play second base, displacing switch-hitting Danny Espinosa in the lead role at that position. Cabrera, an All-Star with the Indians in 2011 and ’12, last had started at second base in 2009 (28 games).

Ryan Zimmerman is expected to miss a substantial amount of time with a right hamstring strain. Anthony Rendon has shifted from second to third base minus Zimmerman, which helped fuel Cabrera’s acquisition.


Alex Brandon/Associated PressDenard Span has reached base safely in 30 straight games.


• Catcher Wilson Ramos will be placed on paternity leave before Tuesday’s series opener and is due to miss the entire three-game series. Jose Lobaton and, potentially, Sandy Leon as a call-up will fill in behind the plate.

• Struggling backup outfielder Nate McLouth landed on the disabled list on Monday with right shoulder inflammation. He has hit only .173 this season. Outfielder Steven Souza, 25, has been promoted from Triple-A Syracuse to take the roster spot.

Souza holds several International League-leading totals: a.354 average, .435 on-base percentage, .601 slugging percentage and 70 RBIs. He also has 18 Triple-A homers. He went 1-for-8 with a walk in a major league cameo in April with Scott Hairston on the DL.

Souza should have a backup role considering the Nats have Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth as regulars. He reportedly took grounders at first base Monday, but is not expected to work there in-game anytime soon.

• Span has reached base safely via hit or walk in 30 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors, and matching the second-longest streak in Nationals history. Zimmerman holds the record, with 43 straight games reaching base in 2008. Alfonso Soriano in 2006 also reached base safely in 30 straight.

Span, a center fielder, also has 23 steals. That is approaching the career-high 26 steals he produced in 2010.

• Werth earned the NL Player of the Month award for July. He hit .337 with six homers and an NL-leading 24 RBIs during the month.

Jordan Zimmermann tossed seven scoreless innings in his last start, in an 11-0 win against the Philadelphia Phillies. He has not allowed a homer at Nationals Park in his last nine starts. The last batter to take him deep in D.C.: Miami’s Derek Dietrich, on April 9. Zimmermann has allowed one run or fewer eight times this season. He is the winningest pitcher in Nats history, with a 50-40 record.

Gio Gonzalez has been knocked out in the fourth inning in two of his past three starts. He spent part of May on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Gonzalez has 38 career wins apiece with the Nats and with the Oakland Athletics.

• Rendon homered Saturday, snapping the Nats’ homerless drought at nine games. It was their longest homerless drought since the team moved to D.C. from Montreal in 2005.

• Washington has the top run differential in the National League at plus-76.

Rafael Soriano became the 46th pitcher to notch 200 saves on July 27.

• Shortstop Ian Desmond’s 66 RBIs rank fifth in the NL.

• Washington lost a rainout makeup against Baltimore on Monday night.

• First baseman Adam LaRoche had a rough July, hitting .159 (14-for-88) with one homer. LaRoche’s father Dave has filled in as pitching coach with the Brooklyn Cyclones of late while Tom Signore has dealt with a head-related injury.

• Manager Matt Williams has asked Harper to bunt less frequently.

• Washington's bullpen has surrendered 18 runs in its past 20 2/3 innings.

Series preview: Mets at Nats

May, 16, 2014
May 16
9:00
AM ET

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets are due to face Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann this weekend at Nationals Park.
METS (19-21, fourth place/NL East) at WASHINGTON NATIONALS (21-19, second place/NL East)

Friday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-2, 2.17) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (2-1, 3.65), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Bartolo Colon (2-5, 5.84) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.97), 4:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-3, 4.53) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2-1, 3.59), 1:35 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• Injuries have seriously struck the Nats, with five Opening Day starters already having spent time on the disabled list this season.


Nick Wass/Associated PressBryce Harper required surgery to repair a ligament tear in his left thumb after this April 25 slide into third base.


Left fielder Bryce Harper underwent surgery on April 29 to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb. Harper (.289, 1 HR, 9 RBIs in 83 at-bats) is expected to be sidelined until July. He suffered the injury on a headfirst slide while tripling.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman broke his right thumb while getting picked off diving back into second base on April 12.

Adam LaRoche (.319, 5 HR) landed on the DL on Sunday with a right quadriceps strain.

Three others integral players are back after recovering from maladies:

Catcher Wilson Ramos, who suffered a broken hamate bone in his left hand on Opening Day at Citi Field, returned May 7 after missing 32 games.

Right-hander Doug Fister, acquired during the offseason in a salary dump by the Detroit Tigers, has made two starts since opening the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation and a lat-muscle strain.

Denard Span spent a week in mid-April on the concussion DL.

Anthony Rendon has shifted from second base to third base in Zimmerman’s absence, with Danny Espinosa handling second base full time. Tyler Moore was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse to handle first base. Moore, who had been demoted basically coinciding with Ramos coming off the DL last week, returned after spending only three days in the minors. Minus Harper, four players have started in left field: Nate McLouth, Kevin Frandsen, Scott Hairston and Zach Walters.

McLouth, who signed a two-year, $10.75 million deal in December to defect from the Baltimore Orioles, is one of the few bench players struggling to handle the larger role. Originally signed as the fourth outfielder, he is hitting .117 with one homer and one RBI in 60 at-bats.

• The Nats have outscored opponents by 38 runs from the seventh inning onward, the best differential in the majors. They have outscored opponents 19-3 in the ninth inning.

• Nats relievers have a collective 2.28 ERA, which ranks third in the majors. Closer Rafael Soriano (1.18 ERA, eight saves) lost a career-best 25-inning scoreless streak Saturday, when he suffered his lone blown save this season, at Oakland. Drew Storen has a 0.568 WHIP -- with six hits and one walk allowed in 12 1/3 innings.

• The Nats signed lefty-hitting Greg Dobbs to a minor-league deal for potential pinch-hitting duty. Dobbs, 35, was released by the Miami Marlins after opening the season 1-for-13 with four strikeouts. Miami ate his $1.7 million contract. Dobbs has not yet been added to the big-league roster.

• After consecutive scoreless efforts (including a rain-shortened four-inning outing opposite L.A.’s Zack Greinke), Jordan Zimmermann allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings at Arizona on Monday while pitching on two extra days of rest. For his career, Zimmermann has a 2.99 ERA on standard rest and 3.89 ERA with extra rest. Zimmermann will have an extra day of rest before facing the Mets on Sunday.

• Subtract a May 3 outing at Philadelphia in which he allowed two homers and seven runs and Tanner Roark otherwise has a 2.45 ERA in six starts this season.

Morning Briefing: D.C. weekend looms

May, 16, 2014
May 16
5:26
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: After getting shut out in back-to-back games at home to split the Subway Series with the Yankees and drop two games under .500, the Mets (19-21) play a weekend series in D.C. against the beat-up Washington Nationals.

Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche all are on the disabled list for the Nats.

Jonathon Niese (2-2, 2.17 ERA) opposes right-hander Tanner Roark (2-1, 3.65) in Friday’s 7:05 p.m. series opener.

The Mets have not been shut out in three straight games since July 25-27, 1992.

Friday’s news reports:


Kathy Willens/Associated PressAlfonso Soriano chats with third-base coach Rob Thomson after producing an RBI double.


• For the first time in Subway Series history, the game ended with a 1-0 score Thursday. The lone run came on Alfonso Soriano’s two-out double in the seventh against Jacob deGrom, who had a strong major-league debut despite getting charged with the loss. David Wright’s failure to turn an inning-ending double play preceded Soriano’s shot to the left-center gap. The Mets have now been held scoreless for 20 innings. DeGrom did have a single in his first big-league plate appearance, snapping Mets pitchers’ 0-for-64 drought to open the season.

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

Travis d’Arnaud landed on the seven-day concussion DL on Thursday. He will be eligible to return Wednesday. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.

Josh Edgin joined the Mets on Thursday, giving the club a second left-handed reliever to complement Scott Rice. Edgin took the roster spot formerly occupied by Kyle Farnsworth, who elected free agency after being dropped from the big-league roster. Sandy Alderson described cutting Farnsworth from the Mets as a combination of an economic decision and pitching evaluation.

• Jeff Wilpon indicated it is unlikely the Mets further reduce Citi Field’s dimensions, but he did not completely rule it out, columnist John Harper writes in the Daily News. “I’m not saying we wouldn’t," Wilpon told Harper, “but I don’t see any reason why we would.” Writes Harper:

Wilpon said that if GM Sandy Alderson “brings it up’’ as something he thinks could benefit the Mets, he’d consider it. He said that since the Mets brought the fences in before the 2012 season, Citi Field has played “average” with respect to home runs in other ballparks in the majors.

Since then, he believes it has played much as Shea Stadium did, but acknowledged that right-center is the one area where it remains significantly more difficult to hit home runs.

“There was more of a wind-tunnel effect to right-center at Shea,’’ Wilpon said. “If we were going to do anything here, that would be the spot.”


Adam RubinA pregame video tribute at Citi Field honored retiring Derek Jeter.


• Before his final game at Citi Field, the Mets presented retiring Derek Jeter with a subway-tile mosaic that included his No. 2 and donated $22,222.22 to the captain’s Turn 2 Foundation. Read more in the Times, Post, Daily News, Record, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

• Terry Collins said the Mets ultimately view Jenrry Mejia as the team’s closer, but he will not have the everyday role now because he is not in the mode of pitching every day. Read more in the Journal, Newsday and Star-Ledger.

Matt Harvey excused himself as a friend became involved in a “melee” over a girl, Page 6 writes. Hours later, Harvey again was unapologetic Thursday about his love for New York nightlife. Harvey nonetheless told the Daily News there is “absolutely not” any ongoing battle with the team over his social habits. Meanwhile, in light of the suspected food poisoning with Lucas Duda, Harvey said: “Our kitchen was completely raided by the food safety people. But obviously we've been eating Shake Shack for a while,” Foxsports.com writes. Read more from Harvey in the Post and Newsday.

• Read more on deGrom’s debut in the Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post notes Sandy Alderson’s prized bounties in trades -- Zack Wheeler, d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard -- all still have a lot to prove.

• Giancarlo Alvarado earned the win in his season debut and Cesar Puello drove in two runs as Las Vegas beat El Paso, 4-3. Cory Vaughn had a walk-off homer as Binghamton beat Altoona, 3-2. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Keith Law’s initial mock draft projects the Mets will take Hartford left-hander Sean Newcomb with the 10th overall pick.

• Columnist Phil Mushnick in the Post suggests the “bloom is off Bud’s interleague rose.”

BIRTHDAYS: Jerrod Riggan turns 40 today. ... Frank Seminara was born on this date in 1967.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should Terry Collins start Juan Lagares on Friday at Nationals Park?

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 1, Mets 0

May, 15, 2014
May 15
10:16
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom had a stellar big league debut, yet with the Mets’ bats familiarly silent, the 25-year-old right-hander came away with a loss.

Alfonso Soriano’s two-out, run-scoring double to left-center against deGrom in the seventh broke a scoreless tie, and the Yankees beat the Mets 1-0 Thursday before an announced crowd of 40,133 to earn a split of the four-game Subway Series.

After producing a combined 21 runs in a pair of wins in the Bronx, the Mets (19-21) returned to Citi Field and were shut out for two straight days. Combined with consecutive shutouts May 6-7 in Miami, the Mets have been blanked four times in their past nine games.

The Mets mustered only three hits in a combined shutout effort by debuting Chase Whitley, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and David Robertson. DeGrom, a former college shortstop and .176 career minor league hitter, had one of those hits. Betances and Warren combined to strike out seven straight Mets during the sixth through eighth innings. The seven straight K's by the Mets matched a franchise record, last done Aug. 11, 2010, against the Colorado Rockies, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Robertson retired David Wright on a groundout to shortstop to strand runners on the corners and end the eighth en route to a four-out save.


Kathy Willens/Associated PressFirst-base coach Tom Goodwin congratulates Jacob deGrom after the rookie produced a hit in his first big league at-bat -- and the first hit by a Mets pitcher this season.


DeGrom’s line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. He threw 91 pitches (57 strikes).

DeGrom became the first debuting starting pitcher in franchise history to be charged with a loss in a game in which he logged at least seven innings and limited the opponent to one run.

The last debuting MLB starting pitcher to get charged with a loss in a game in which he tossed at least seven innings and limited the opponent to one run was Jimmy Haynes with the Baltimore Orioles against Boston on Sept. 13, 1995.

Pitching in a scoreless game in the seventh, deGrom had a streak of 11 straight batters retired snapped when he walked Mark Teixeira with one out. Next, with the Mets again playing an overshift against Brian McCann, the Mets attempted an inning-ending 4-5-3 double play. But Wright, attempting the turn at second base, made a low and offline throw to first base, and Lucas Duda was unable to scoop it.

With McCann safe and the inning prolonged, Soriano followed with the decisive triple.

Duda and Wright had turned a nifty 3-5-3 double play on McCann to end Monday’s game in the Bronx.

It’s a hit: In his first big league plate appearance, the former college shortstop deGrom snapped an 0-for-64 drought by Mets pitchers. That was the longest futility streak to begin a season by a pitching staff in MLB history and had tied the 1946 Cleveland Indians for the second-longest drought ever, regardless of point in the season. The 1914 Indians, who went 0-for-92, remain the record holders.

DeGrom also delivered a sacrifice bunt in his second and final plate appearance. That placed runners at second and third with two outs in the fifth against Whitley, who was making his big league debut for the Yankees. Manager Joe Girardi inserted reliever Betances to face Eric Young Jr, who grounded out to third base to strand the two baserunners as the game continued in a scoreless tie.

Farewell, Jeets: The Mets played a video tribute to retiring Derek Jeter before his 88th and final regular-season Subway Series game.

Jeter then went 0-for-4. That included sending a shot back at deGrom in the third inning with two runners aboard and one out. DeGrom snared the liner and doubled Brett Gardner off first base to escape the jam.

Jeter’s final career regular-season statistics against the Mets: .364 (131-for-360) with 13 homers and 44 RBIs. Jeter has a higher career average against only the Pittsburgh Pirates (.417 in 36 at-bats) and Colorado Rockies (.368 in 34 at-bats).

Among players with 100 career at-bats against the Mets, only Rico Carty (.380) and Don Slaught (.376) had higher averages.

Welcome back: Newly promoted Josh Edgin tossed only one pitch in his season debut. After inheriting runners on the corners and two outs in the eighth, he coaxed a flyout to left field from Jacoby Ellsbury.

What’s next: The Mets head to Washington D.C. for a weekend series against the Washington Nationals. Jonathon Niese (2-2, 2.17 ERA) opposes right-hander Tanner Roark (2-1, 3.65) in Friday’s 7:05 p.m. series opener. Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are all on the DL for the Nats.

Morning Briefing: Mets-Phillies on tap

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
5:33
AM ET
PHILADELPHIA

FIRST PITCH: After a day off Monday, the Mets open a two-game series in Philly on Tuesday night to kick off a three-city trip. There also will be stops in Denver and Miami.

Jonathon Niese (1-2, 2.45 ERA) opposes left-hander Cole Hamels (0-1, 3.00) in the 7:05 p.m. opener.

The series could help David Wright heat up. He is a .302 hitter with 19 homers in 82 career games at Citizens Bank Park.

Read the Mets-Phillies series preview here.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Juan Lagares manned center field for Las Vegas on Monday night as the Triple-A phase of his rehab assignment began. Lagares is returning from a pulled right hamstring. He figures to join the Mets sometime during the Rockies series, which begins Thursday.

• Frank Viola, who underwent open-heart surgery to address an enlarged aorta, tells the Daily News: “I was overweight. I was eating wrong. I’ve lost 19 pounds since the surgery. I have never felt as good as I do right now.” Viola had been slated to open the season as Las Vegas pitching coach before the issue was flagged during his spring-training medical screening.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post reviews who won and lost the offseason. On the Mets’ signing of Curtis Granderson, Sherman writes:

The Mets hoped Curtis Granderson could be a cleanup-hitting force behind David Wright. But he already has lost that role, and with one homer, 28 strikeouts and an NL-low .129 average, he is drawing Jason Bay comparisons. Not good.

Travis d’Arnaud appears to be heating up after opening the season hitless in his first 16 at-bats, writes Greg Logan in Newsday. D’Arnaud is hitting .364 (8-for-22) in his past seven games.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal notes Mets pitchers are 0-for-41 at the plate this season. Writes Diamond:

Since at least 1974 -- as far back as Stats LLC tracks such curiosities -- no pitching staff has opened a season with a longer stretch of futility. The Atlanta Braves' pitchers started 0-for-39 in 2008 and 2011, setting the previous standard. There is, of course, a decent chance that the Mets' hitless streak to open 2014 is the worst of all time.

• The Mets arrive in Philly with a 14-11 record and soaring confidence. Read more in the Post.

• Brian Lewis in the Post notes the Mets have 24 steals and have allowed only five this season.

• The Mets are 6-0 in games started by backup catcher Anthony Recker. Michael J. Fensom catches up Recker in the Star-Ledger.

• Read more on Niese in the Daily News.

• Brandon Nimmo went 4-for-4 with a homer as St. Lucie beat Charlotte, 7-3. A day after leaving Vegas' game with a jammed finger, Wilmer Flores was able to pinch hit. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Las Vegas’ Eric Campbell was named Pacific Coast League Player of the Week. Campbell, an eighth-round pick in 2008 out of Boston College, hit .500 (11-for-22) with seven RBIs for the week. He played five different positions -- first base, second base, shortstop, third base and left field.

• Catcher Carlos Ruiz, whose Phillies now face the Mets, was named NL Player of the Week. Ruiz is hitting .500 (11-for-22) with six extra-base hits, seven RBIs and eight runs scored in his past six games.

Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and will undergo surgery Tuesday that is expected to sideline him into July.

From the bloggers … MetsMinors.net chats with second-base prospect Dilson Herrera.

BIRTHDAYS: Omir Santos, who once homered against Jonathon Papelbon at Fenway Park, turns 33. ... Fellow catcher Kelly Shoppach is 34. ... Minor-league pitcher Paul Paez turns 22.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: How should Terry Collins’ divide the outfield play once Juan Lagares returns?

Morning Briefing: Wheels up for '14 debut

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
5:44
AM ET

Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesZack Wheeler makes his season debut Thursday afternoon opposite Jordan Zimmermann.
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Zack Wheeler wanted the Opening Day start. He draws just as tough an assignment in Game 3.

In Thursday’s 1:10 p.m. series finale at Citi Field, Wheeler opposes Washington Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, a 19-game winner in 2013.

Wheeler will be pitching after a lengthy layoff. He last appeared last Tuesday, when he allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings in a Grapefruit League game against the Nats in Viera, Fla.

Assuming Lucas Duda starts against Zimmermann, it would mark the first time in franchise history the Mets started three different first basemen in the first three games of a season.

Thursday’s news reports:

• The decision about whether Bobby Parnell needs Tommy John surgery likely will occur in about six weeks. Parnell, diagnosed with a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow, had been experiencing forearm discomfort for four or five days before informing the team postgame Monday, after suffering a blown save, Sandy Alderson said.

Because the tear is in a thicker part of the ligament than, say, Matt Harvey’s tear, doctors believe it is possible Parnell can avoid surgery. He will begin a throwing program in two weeks and see if he is able to ramp up activity over the following month without discomfort.

Jose Valverde is the closer in Parnell’s absence, Terry Collins said. Alderson said the Mets are not seeking outside help right now, such as free-agent Joel Hanrahan.

In a month, Alderson said, the Mets also will consider reinforcements from Triple-A -- which happens to be a timeframe that would delay free agency by a year for those prospects. Noah Sydnergaard is off the table for relief work at the major-league level, but Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom are candidates. Alderson indicated that beginning in May, members of the Triple-A rotation likely would skip turns and pitch an inning in the bullpen anyway with Las Vegas to offset strict innings caps.

Read columnist Ken Davidoff’s take in the Post and columnist Anthony Rieber’s take in Newsday.

Read news stories on Parnell and the closer’s situation in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Newsday and Star-Ledger.


Adam RubinFrank Viola underwent open-heart surgery Wednesday at New York Presbyterian.


• Frank Viola underwent open-heart surgery Wednesday at New York Presbyterian and will be in the intensive-care unit for 48 hours. Alderson indicated Viola would like to fulfill his planned role as Triple-A pitching coach this season, but doctors will need to sign off for that to occur. Read more in the Daily News, Newsday and at MLB.com.

• The Nationals broke a tie against debuting Bartolo Colon with fifth-inning solo homers from Ian Desmond and opposing starter Gio Gonzalez en route to a 5-1 win Wednesday. The Mets are 0-2 for the first time since 2005. Colon threw 110 pitches -- more than all but one of his starts last season with the Oakland Athletics.

The Mets have now struck out 31 times. That is a modern-day MLB record for the first two games of a season, topping last year’s Houston Astros 28 Ks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Houston went on to set an MLB record for most strikeouts in a season, with 1,535 -- which is an average of 9.5 per game.

Curtis Granderson, hitless in nine at-bats as a Met and starting to receive jeers, has contributed five of those Mets Ks.

Ruben Tejada gave himself up and was thrown out at the plate during Wednesday’s loss, leading Collins to suggest the shortstop was confused about the plate-collision rules.

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

Daniel Murphy, whose absence for paternity leave created a stir on talk radio, is due to rejoin the Mets for Thursday’s matinee. Alderson labeled it “appropriate” for a father to spend time with his newborn and wife. It also is a collectively bargained right to miss up to three days on paternity leave.

Murphy’s son Noah actually had been due April 15. The family always planned for wife Tori to give birth in Florida, where her mother is a nurse.

Murphy, by the way, played in 161 games last season -- a total he already now cannot duplicate this year.

Coincidentally, Jimmy Rollins began paternity leave Wednesday with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Read more on the talk-radio objections to paternity leave in the Post, Daily News, Newsday and Star-Ledger.

Jonathon Niese rejoined the Mets on Wednesday in advance of being activated from the disabled list for Sunday’s start against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Niese likely will be capped at 95 pitches in his first start. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Chris Young’s delayed Mets debut lasted only one inning Wednesday. C.Y., who missed Opening Day with a strained right quadriceps, had the muscle bark in the first inning and departed before even getting one at-bat. He called the start to his Mets career “a bad dream.” Andrew Brown, who had a three-run homer in Game 1, replaced him in left field.

Brown might have been slated to be demoted to Triple-A on Sunday morning when Niese is activated from the DL. Now, if C.Y. goes on the DL, Brown likely would stick around. Assuming C.Y. goes on the DL immediately, Wilmer Flores -- here for Murphy’s paternity leave -- could stick around with the big-league club until Niese is activated. Otherwise, Flores likely is ticketed for Vegas on Thursday morning.

Read more in the Daily News, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

• The Mets do not intend for newly signed Bobby Abreu to play first base while with Triple-A Las Vegas. Alderson said Abreu, who played winter ball for hitting coach Dave Hudgens in Venezuela, could end up helping the big-league club as a lefty bat for the bench. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Right-handed reliever Ryan Reid was removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Las Vegas to clear a spot for the addition of Kyle Farnsworth. Reid, a waiver claim by the Mets during the offseason from the Pittsburgh Pirates, had a 10.50 ERA and .444 opponent batting average in six Grapefruit League innings.

• Collins may want Eric Young Jr. leading off, but it was Juan Lagares atop the order and Wilmer Flores at second base with E.Y. Jr. on the bench Wednesday. The reason, according to Collins, was E.Y. Jr. being hitless in eight career at-bats against Gonzalez. Collins apparently wants to stick with Chris Young in the middle of the order, hitting behind Granderson and not leading off. Lagares has produced two straight multi-hit games.

• Mets minor-league seasons begin Thursday. Montero starts for Las Vegas at 10:05 p.m. ET against Fresno. Darin Gorski starts for Binghamton at 6:35 p.m. against Akron. Gabriel Ynoa starts for St. Lucie at 6:30 p.m. against Palm Beach. Robert Gsellman starts for Savannah at 7:05 p.m. against Lakewood.

Read comments from Syndergaard on pitching in the Pacific Coast League in the Las Vegas Sun.

Read a position-by-position breakdown of the Double-A B-Mets in the Press & Sun-Bulletin.

• Lenny Dykstra is suing Los Angeles County, alleging he was beaten by deputies while in jail, the Associated Press writes.

• Jorge Arangure in the Times examines what protocols were in place to determine whether Bryce Harper should have remained in the game Opening Day after being kneed in the head during a slide.

BIRTHDAYS: Rod Gaspar, who appeared in 118 games for the world-champion ’69 Mets, was born on this date in 1946.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets consider putting Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom in the big-league bullpen right now?

Farm report: Nimmo finds St. Lucie

April, 2, 2014
Apr 2
9:00
AM ET
2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo had no shortage of role models while training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., this winter. His workout partners included National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, All-Star Pedro Alvarez and Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront.

NFL prospects trained alongside too, including Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

“Cutch doesn’t act like an NL MVP at all,” Nimmo said. “He’s a very down-to-earth guy. He’s very much like [Curtis] Granderson, where any questions that I had he would answer them, and anything that I needed he would come right to me and be honest with me. It was just awesome to be around that kind of guy and understand what kind of work ethic will get you there.”

The 21-year-old Nimmo arrived at IMG weighing 187 pounds. He departed at 207, which he believed translated into success while in big-league camp during spring training. Albeit in a small sample size, Nimmo hit .429 (3-for-7) with an RBI and two walks in Grapefruit League play.


Eliot J. Schechter/MLB PhotosBrandon Nimmo


“They put 20 pounds on me,” said Nimmo, a 6-foot-3 outfielder from Wyoming. “And it was really good muscle. None of it was bad weight. I had a nutritionist watching what I was eating. We just did it the right way. And I felt like that was what I needed. I felt like I needed to move on and train a little bit more like a professional. Obviously now you see the results of that physically.”

Nimmo hit .273 with two homers, 40 RBIs and 10 steals and had a .397 on-base percentage in 480 plate appearances with low-A Savannah in 2013. Yet it was an uneven, complicated season.

Nimmo was hitting .444 two weeks into last season, but all of a sudden went into a nosedive, including going hitless in 20 at-bats over five games before disappearing from the Gnats lineup for a month.

Nimmo suffered a hand injury that resulted in a dislocated joint and partial tear of a couple of ligaments. The problem: The injury went undetected by an MRI taken in Savannah. So Nimmo resumed playing in late May and the issue lingered the whole season. He eventually was checked out by Mets doctors in New York and the full extent of the injury was discovered.

“It was a situation where we got the MRI done in Savannah, and it happens where nothing showed up, so I played the rest of the season with it,” Nimmo said. “I let the people know afterward it still wasn’t all the way there. I went to New York and that’s when we found out everything that happened. And we went to Cleveland, too, and saw a pretty good hand doctor there, Dr. Thomas Graham. He said, ‘It isn’t going to change things. You don’t need surgery. They’ve already repaired themselves. You’re just going to have to get it stronger.’ And, actually, we took a couple of months off.”

Nimmo insisted he did not want to use the hand injury as an excuse for his season.

“I came back because I wanted to play,” he insisted. “And we felt like nothing was really wrong there. The one thing I noticed was I never fouled so many balls straight back. I didn’t quite have my top hand on top of it. It happens. You’ve got to learn how to play with injuries sometimes. It just was a learning experience for me.”

The Gnats won the South Atlantic League title, so Nimmo did participate in a championship. But his first-half teammates and friends, including Kevin Plawecki and Jayce Boyd, had received midseason promotions to high-A St. Lucie while Nimmo was snubbed.

“With how I started I felt like I should have left earlier,” said Nimmo, who opens this season in the Florida State League. “But I didn’t play the way that I was supposed to after that point. After April, I didn’t deserve a promotion. So it’s nothing against the Mets. I was mad at myself for not playing better. I feel like if I would have played at my best, maybe I could have got to St. Lucie. But I didn’t. I didn’t play my best. And so I needed to learn more in Savannah. And then I got to win a championship with them. It ended up working out well.

“Kevin is one of my best friends. Me and him compete. And Jayce is one of my best friends out here, too. We really thrived off of each other and really got a lot of information from each other. So obviously those two leaving, yeah, I was upset with myself about not being there. I just took it as I needed to get better. And I felt like I finished the season well.”

What’s on Nimmo’s agenda to learn? He spent spring training working on covering more ground in the outfield, including putting his head down when a ball is clearly over his head and taking the first three strides full throttle before trying to locate the baseball. Offensively, being able to hit the curveball with two strikes is one thing to hone.

Nimmo, by the way, is fully aware of who was taken with the pick immediately after him in 2011. After the Mets selected Nimmo 13th overall, the Marlins used the next pick on now-reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez out of high school in Tampa.

Nimmo said there was not extra pressure on him because of Fernandez’s achievements. He noted he has been facing Bryce Harper since the Nat was on a travel team for 9-year-olds out of Denver called the Rocky Mountain Steel.

“He was 6-2, 185 when we were 12 years old. I mean, he was a beast,” Nimmo said about Harper.

As for the Mets picking him over Fernandez, Nimmo opined: “If everybody knew how it was going to turn out, I think he probably would have went No. 1 overall. There were 12 other teams that passed on him, too. But I can’t put any pressure on me. I played against Harper since I was 9 years old. I played those guys. There’s nothing that I can do. I’m myself. I just have to control what I can control and just go out there and have fun.

“It’s the way it is. They’re very talented. Very talented. And they learned the game a little bit quicker than I did. I don’t feel like I’m going to be anywhere behind them. I think I’m going to be playing against them one day and on the same playing field, but it just took me a little bit longer. I hope to face [Fernandez] 1,000 more times, hopefully in the big leagues. We’ll see how it goes. But no more pressure. I’ll just be myself and play.”

2013 organization leaders

Average: Jayce Boyd, St. Lucie, .330; Jeff McNeil, Kingsport, .329; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, .321; Eric Campbell, Vegas, .314; Kevin Plawecki, St. Lucie, .305; Yeixon Ruiz, Kingsport, .304; Dominic Smith, Kingsport, .301; Jhoan Urena, GCL Mets, .299; Jeyckol De Leon, Kingsport, .298; Zach Lutz, Vegas, .293.

Homers: Dustin Lawley, Vegas, 26; Travis Taijeron, Binghamton, 23; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, 21; Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 16; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 15.

RBIs: Dustin Lawley, Vegas, 96; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 86; Jayce Boyd, St. Lucie, 83; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, 82.

Steals: Darrell Ceciliani, Binghamton, 31; Alonzo Harris, Binghamton, 25; Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 24; Eudy Pina, Savannah, 21.

ERA: Rob Whalen, Kingsport, 1.87; Miller Diaz, Brooklyn, 2.03; Chris Flexen, Kingsport, 2.09; Robert Gsellman, Brooklyn, 2.58; Gabriel Ynoa, Savannah, 2.72; Rafael Montero, Vegas, 2.78; Rainy Lara, St. Lucie, 2.85; John Gant, Brooklyn, 2.89; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 3.05; Noah Syndergaard, Binghamton, 3.06.

Wins: Gabriel Ynoa, Savannah, 15; Rafael Montero, Vegas, 12; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 12; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 10.

Saves: Jeff Walters, Vegas, 38; T.J. Chism, St. Lucie, 20; Beck Wheeler, Savannah, 19; Robert Carson, Vegas, 11; Bret Mitchell, St. Lucie, 10.

Strikeouts: Rafael Montero, Vegas, 150; Noah Syndergaaard, Binghamton, 133; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 132; Erik Goeddel, Binghamton, 125; Luis Cessa, Savannah, 124.

Short hops

• Right-hander Cory Mazzoni, who strained his right triceps in the Grapefruit League finale, remained in Port St. Lucie when Triple-A Las Vegas players broke camp. The injury is considered “nothing significant” and Mazzoni is unlikely to miss much time, a Mets official suggested. Still, Mazzoni is due for a follow-up appointment with team doctors in New York.

(Read full post)

Morning Briefing: The day after ...

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
5:40
AM ET

Elsa/Getty ImagesJohn Lannan reacts after serving up a three-run homer to Anthony Rendon in the 10th inning on Opening Day.
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: The Mets take a pause after an Opening Day loss before regrouping for Game 2 of the season.

Bartolo Colon will make his Mets debut opposite Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday at Citi Field. Because a southpaw is starting for the Nats, righty-hitting Josh Satin is expected to start at first base.

There will be one thing to watch on the off day: Jonathon Niese is scheduled to pitch another minor-league game in Florida. This is the final tune-up hurdle for Niese, who opened the season on the disabled list. The Mets are eyeing activating Niese from the DL on Sunday.

Niese is working back after receiving a cortisone injection in his left elbow to address inflammation. He also was slowed early in camp by shoulder weakness.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Andrew Brown and Juan Lagares homered, but Bobby Parnell blew the save with two outs in the ninth and Jeurys Familia and John Lannan combined to surrender five runs an inning later in a bullpen implosion. The Mets ultimately lost to Washington, 9-7, in 10 innings in the season opener before an announced crowd of 42,442. Dillon Gee departed with a 4-3 lead and two runners on base, but received a no-decision after Carlos Torres and Scott Rice combined to throw eight straight balls and force in the tying run.

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

Read more in Gee in the Post.

Read more on Brown and Lagares in the Post and Star-Ledger.

Read more on the bullpen’s struggles in the Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Daniel Murphy missed Opening Day because his wife Tori was giving birth to the couple’s first child, son Noah, in Florida on Monday. Chris Young was out of the starting lineup because of a quadriceps strain. Meanwhile, several players were dealing with the flu, including Ike Davis, who was late taking the field for the first pitch because of what the first baseman described as an illness. Read more in the Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

• Michael Salfino in the Journal was unimpressed with the Mets’ Opening Day lineup minus Murphy and C.Y. Writes Salfino:

With second baseman Daniel Murphy and center fielder Chris Young both sidelined for the team's 9-7 loss on Monday, the Mets were forced to start a patchwork lineup on the very first day of the season -- one that combined for a .689 on-base plus slugging percentage last year. That’s the ninth-worst prior-year OPS for an opening-day lineup in team history and the worst since 1983, when the Mets finished 68-94.

Even if Murphy and Young had been in the lineup, it would have raised the Mets' prior-year OPS to .703, still the worst since 1984, according to Stats LLC.

• The Mets signed 40-year-old Bobby Abreu and assigned him to Triple-A Las Vegas. Read more in the Daily News and Newsday.


Jeff Roberson/Associated PressSandy Alderson says 90 wins is not a guarantee.


• Sandy Alderson said his 90-wins mantra is a goal, not a guarantee.

Writes columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post:

Do these Mets have the talent to win 90?

“Let me put it this way,” a most skeptical scout, who has followed the Mets all spring, said before the first pitch. “Would this team be happy with 80 wins? I think they’d sign up for that right now.”

Writes columnist Tara Sullivan in the Record:

If Alderson really believes this is a 90-win team, he should have done more to fill the roster with 90-win players. He should have plugged the leaks in his middle infield instead of settling on Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada. He should have signed a reliable power-hitting first baseman, instead waging a war of mediocrity between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. He should have revamped a bullpen he admitted was the weakest leak last season, instead of relying on the likes of Carlos Torres (one four-pitch RBI walk), Scott Rice (one four-pitch RBI walk), Bobby Parnell (blown save) and Jeurys Familia (losing pitcher of record).

Instead, he framed the season with a stark delineation of success or failure, a hard number that feels like a setup, particularly for embattled manager Terry Collins.

Writes a more supportive columnist, Dave D’Alessandro in the Star-Ledger:

But the pummeling Alderson has taken since his remarks were leaked 35 days ago raises another question (not the one about his meds): Since when did it become a bad thing to set high standards?

Because it shouldn’t be a bad thing. Not if it is a clear-eyed-and-sober affirmation, rather than something pulled out of Jim Dolan’s Easter bonnet.

Read other 90-win-mantra recaps in the Times, Daily News, Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was booed at Citi Field while throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Read more in the Post and Daily News.

• The pregame festivities included a tribute to the late Ralph Kiner, the legendary broadcaster and Hall of Fame player. Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.

• Jim Kelly, who helps scout upcoming Mets opponents by video, will travel with the Mets and serve as the person deciding whether to challenge umpires’ calls.

Jenrry Mejia remains on track to start Friday against the Cincinnati Reds after having his right forearm examined by a team doctor. Mejia had been struck by a liner Friday in Montreal.

• The Nats suffered a pair of injuries Monday. Catcher Wilson Ramos received a left hand injury and will see a specialist Tuesday. Bryce Harper, meanwhile, had a headache but apparently passed a concussion test after his slide into second base resulted in his head getting whacked by Eric Young Jr.’s leg.

Curtis Granderson went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his Mets debut. Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.

• Duda saw late action at first base Monday after Davis was double-switched out of the game. For now, Davis, Duda and Satin all will see time -- although Alderson noted the Mets will need to drop a position player, first baseman or otherwise, this weekend when Niese is activated from the DL. Read more in the Post.

• Washington lost the first-ever video-review challenge at Citi Field, in the 10th inning on a play Danny Espinosa apparently correctly was ruled out at first base. Read more in the Post.

From the bloggers … Blogging Mets reflects on a disappointing Opening Day.

BIRTHDAYS: The new father Murphy turns 29. ... Rusty Staub is 70.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets shake up their bullpen before Game 2 on Wednesday?

Rapid Reaction: Nats 9, Mets 7 (10)

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
5:00
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Still 90 wins to go.

Jeurys Familia surrendered a tiebreaking sacrifice fly to Ian Desmond after allowing two singles and having the runners advance on Travis d'Arnaud's passed ball, and John Lannan subsequently surrendered a three-run homer to Anthony Rendon in his first career major league relief appearance as the Washington Nationals rallied to beat the Mets 9-7 in 10 innings before an announced Opening Day crowd of 42,442. Lannan, whose previous 148 appearances had been as a starting pitcher (and mostly with the Nats), had walked the lefty-hitting Adam LaRoche to bring up Rendon.

Trailing 9-5 in the bottom of the 10th, David Wright produced a two-out, two-run homer.

Bobby Parnell, in his first game since last July 30, surrendered a game-tying RBI double to Denard Span with two outs in the ninth as the Nats pulled even at 5. Parnell was returning from surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck.


Elsa/Getty ImagesJuan Lagares had staked the Mets to a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth with a homer.


Known for his defense, not his bat, Juan Lagares nonetheless had given the Mets a 5-4 lead a half-inning earlier. Lagares homered against Tyler Clippard to begin the eighth -- the Mets’ first hit in five innings.

The Mets' MLB-best Opening Day winning percentage slipped to .642 (34-19). Their batters struck out 17 times.

Gee sharp: Making his first career Opening Day start, Dillon Gee surrendered a mammoth two-run homer to LaRoche in the second inning, then bulldozed his way through the Nats' lineup in the middle innings. Gee retired the next 15 batters, until Bryce Harper singled off the glove of Eric Young Jr. at second base with one out in the seventh.

Gee stumbled that frame while trying to protect a 4-2 lead.

After E.Y. Jr. could not turn a double play on a grounder to shortstop, which swapped Desmond for Harper on the basepaths, Gee walked LaRoche. Gee then surrendered a two-out, run-scoring double to Rendon as Washington pulled within a run.

The relief corps did not help.

Terry Collins summoned Carlos Torres with two in scoring position and Gee’s pitch count at 100. Torres walked pinch-hitter Nate McLouth on four pitches to load the bases.

Collins returned to the mound and called for Scott Rice to face Span. Rice walked Span on four pitches to force in the tying run.

Jose Valverde, the fourth pitcher in four batters, finally bailed out the Mets in his debut with the organization. Valverde, the primary setup man, struck out Ryan Zimmerman with the count full to leave three Nats on base and limit the damage to a 4-all tie.

Valverde also contributed a perfect eighth. It marked his first scoreless appearance of more than one inning since June 28, 2010, with the Detroit Tigers. Valverde struck out three of the four batters he faced.

Gee’s final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR.

Gee had produced a 4-2 record and 2.72 ERA in six starts against the Nats last season.

Brown delivers: Andrew Brown made his first Opening Day roster arguably because the Mets are carrying an extra bench player while Jonathon Niese is on the DL.

Brown also found his way into the starting lineup because of a trio of circumstances:

Chris Young has a right quadriceps strain.

Daniel Murphy is away for the birth of his first child, requiring E.Y. Jr. to shift to second base.

• Collins did not feel comfortable playing Lucas Duda in the outfield after Duda missed more than two weeks of spring training with a hamstring injury.

So what did Brown do? Of course, he belted a three-run homer against Stephen Strasburg in his first at-bat. The first-inning blast staked the Mets to a 3-0 lead. Brown became the first Met to homer in his first at-bat of a season since David Wright against the Marlins’ Josh Johnson on Opening Day 2010.

Meanwhile, Strasburg settled down and allowed four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out 10 in six innings. He retired the final 10 batters. The strikeout total was the most ever against the Mets on Opening Day, topping nine apiece by Curt Schilling (1998), Steve Carlton (1983), Steve Blass (1970) and Don Drysdale (1965).

Ouch: Harper was kneed in the right side of the head by E.Y. Jr. while Harper was sliding into second base in the second inning breaking up a double play. Harper’s helmet went flying and he was escorted off the field by a trainer, but did remain in the game.

Debutant: Curtis Granderson went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his Mets debut.

MIA: The Mets took the field for the top of the first without a first baseman. Collins then went to the plate umpire. And, after a brief delay, Ike Davis took first base. Davis finished 0-for-2 with a walk before departing on a seventh-inning double-switch during which Duda entered.

It’s a start: Ruben Tejada, the shortstop essentially by default, singled in his first at-bat of the season. He finished 1-for-4.

What’s next: After an off day, the Mets continue their series against the Nats on Wednesday at Citi Field at 7:10 p.m. Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65 ERA in 2013) makes his Mets debut opposite left-hander Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.36).

The Mets say Murphy and Chris Young both should be in the lineup. Righty-hitting Josh Satin is expected to start at first base against the southpaw Gonzalez.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
12 4.01 132 172
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .301
HRL. Duda 26
RBIL. Duda 76
RD. Murphy 73
OPSL. Duda .834
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.44
SOZ. Wheeler 155