New York Mets: Carlos Marmol

Series preview: Mets vs. Marlins

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
9:15
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Getty ImagesThe Mets face Henderson Alvarez, Kevin Slowey and Tom Koehler this weekend at Citi Field.
METS (12-10, second place/NL East) vs. MIAMI MARLINS (10-12, fifth place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.63) vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez (1-2, 2.66), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (3-0, 1.99) vs. RHP Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.15), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Dillon Gee (1-1, 3.58) vs. RHP Tom Koehler (2-1, 2.13), 1:10 p.m. ET

Marlins short hops

Giancarlo Stanton leads the National League with 27 RBIs. Among his six long balls, he has the longest homer in the majors this season: 484 feet, on April 4 against San Diego’s Eric Stults (watch video here). Last Friday against Seattle’s Yoervis Medina, Stanton belted his second career walk-off grand slam. The other came May 13, 2012 against the Mets’ Manny Acosta.


Jeff Roberson/Associated PressChristian Yelich arrives at Citi Field with a 17-game hitting streak.


Christian Yelich enters the series with a career-high 17-game hitting streak -- the longest active streak in the majors. Yelich, 22, also is 14-for-14 in steals attempts to begin his big-league career. That is a Marlins record, displacing Edgar Renteria, who began his career with 13 straight successful steals in 1996.

• The Marlins used free agency to bring in nearly an entirely new infield during the offseason: catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, first baseman Garrett Jones, shortstop Rafael Furcal and third baseman Casey McGehee.

Furcal (hamstring) has opened the season on the disabled list, although he has started a rehab assignment. He signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract on Dec. 5 after missing all of last season. Furcal underwent Tommy John surgery on March 15, 2013. Adeiny Hechavarria has started all 22 games at shortstop in Furcal’s absence.

McGehee, who signed for one year, $1.1 million on Dec. 18, spent last season with Rakuten in Japan. He tied for second in that country’s Pacific League in homers with 28. With that pennant-winning Japanese club, McGehee played alongside ex-Met Kazuo Matsui as well as current Yankee Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA.

The Marlins signed Saltalamacchia away from the champion Boston Red Sox with a three-year, $21 million contract on Dec. 4.

Jones signed for two years, $7.75 million on Dec. 9 after spending the previous five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

• Closer Steve Cishek has converted a franchise-record 33 consecutive save attempts dating to June 8, 2013. It is the longest active streak in the majors. The previous Marlins record belonged to Todd Jones, who converted 27 straight saves in 2005. Last year’s 94.4 save percentage tied Toronto’s Casey Janssen for best in the majors.

• After opening the season working in long relief, Kevin Slowey replaced ineffective Brad Hand in the rotation last turn. Slowey had gone 1-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 14 first-half starts for Miami last season before being dispatched to the bullpen. He then suffered a season-ending forearm strain.

Hand had an 11.37 ERA while tossing a combined 6 1/3 innings in two starts against the Washington Nationals before getting bounced from the rotation last week.

• Stony Brook University product Tom Koehler has limited opponents to two runs or fewer and completed at least six innings in each of his four starts.

• Center fielder Marcell Ozuna's 2013 season ended July 22 when he suffered a torn thumb ligament on a diving play in the outfield. Ozuna is hitting .309 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 81 at-bats.

• Miami is tied for second in the NL with 98 runs scored.

• The Marlins are 1-8 on the road.

• Reliever Carlos Marmol was forced to depart Wednesday’s game with a strained right hamstring.

Series preview: Mets at Dodgers

August, 12, 2013
8/12/13
12:26
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Getty ImagesThe Mets face (l to r) Ricky Nolasco, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chris Capuano at Dodger Stadium.
METS (54-61, third place/NL East) vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (67-50, first place/NL West)

Monday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (1-1, 1.96) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (8-9, 3.65), 10:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Matt Harvey (9-3, 2.09) vs. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-3, 2.99), 10:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (8-8, 3.82) vs. LHP Chris Capuano (4-6, 4.50), 10:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers short hops

• The Dodgers are 37-8 since June 22, matching the best 45-game stretch in franchise history. They also posted that record in 1899 and 1953.

The turnaround spared manager Don Mattingly getting fired, he said last week while revealing a late-May meeting with team president Stan Kasten. The Dodgers were a season-low 12 games under .500 before their current 45-game surge.

"Stan was really honest. He didn't want to do anything but he said, 'Donnie, at some point I got to do something,'" Mattingly said, as quoted by ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I understood it. I was fine with that. I understand. At some point you need a change of voice, a different voice."

Hanley Ramirez (.359, 11 HR, 37 RBIs) continues to experience pain in his right shoulder a week after diving into the stands during a catch attempt at Wrigley Field. He has not started any of the past seven games. The disabled list is a consideration, although the Dodgers lost some backdating ability when Ramirez was used as a pinch hitter Friday. Nick Punto and Dee Gordon have shared the shortstop duty with Ramirez banged up.


Brian D. Kersey/Getty ImagesYasiel Puig is a leading candidate for NL Rookie of the Year.


• First baseman Adrian Gonzalez departed Sunday’s game in the ninth inning with dizziness. Gonzalez leads the Dodgers in homers (16) and RBIs (72).

Ricky Nolasco was acquired from the Miami Marlins on July 6 for Angel Sanchez, Steve Ames and Josh Wall. Nolasco is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts since joining L.A. He has exceeded 5 2/3 innings only once since arriving, in his Dodgers debut at Arizona.

• Cuban defector Yasiel Puig, a 22-year-old rookie, is hitting .441 (15-for-34) with 12 walks in 10 August games. Puig became the first player since Joe DiMaggio in 1936 to have 70 or more hits and 10 homers in his first 50 major league games.

Writes ESPN.com’s Dave Schoenfield: “Puig got two hits in his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 3, then hit two homers the next game, and has been a lightning rod ever since for his play on the field and for his on-field antics that have upset opponents -- a brawl, a bat flip, a confident attitude, a spikes-high slide that Dusty Baker complained about. He plays the game with the flair of someone who escaped Cuba and enjoys displaying his talent for the entire world.”

• Former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson, returning from Tommy John surgery, signed with the Dodgers and is working his way back. He tossed a perfect inning Sunday with Triple-A Albuquerque. He has another minor league appearance scheduled for Tuesday, the day before he is eligible to be activated from the disabled list. The Mets, including pitching coach Dan Warthen, flew to California to watch Wilson during the offseason, and were disappointed Wilson was not further along in his rehab from the elbow surgery at that point.

• Center field Matt Kemp has been sidelined since injuring his left ankle sliding into home plate on June 21. He shagged fly balls and took batting practice Sunday, signaling a return is getting closer.

• Closer Kenley Jansen had retired 27 straight batters -- the equivalent of a perfect game -- before surrendering a single to St. Louis’ David Freese on Thursday. Jansen became the first Dodger to retire 27 straight since Greg Maddux retired 32 straight from Aug. 13-19, 2006, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• Ex-Met Chris Capuano allowed five runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Rays on Friday. The southpaw had combined to toss 13 scoreless innings over his previous two starts, against the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs.

• Reliever Carlos Marmol was acquired from the Cubs on July 2 for reliever Matt Guerrier. Marmol made his Dodgers debut 20 days later, after a minor league stint.

A.J. Ellis sees the most pitchers per plate appearance in the NL.

• Third baseman Juan Uribe became the victim of a hidden-ball trick by the Rays when he stepped off third base Saturday.

• L.A. acquired Drew Butera, a former Mets farmhand, from the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named and assigned the catcher to Albuquerque.

Morning Briefing: 'Spin 2nd chance fading?

June, 17, 2013
6/17/13
5:45
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Kathy Willens/Associated PressKirk Nieuwenhuis is welcomed by teammates after hitting a walk-off three-run homer Sunday.
FIRST PITCH: How much longer does Jordany Valdespin’s second-base audition last?

In six starts since becoming an everyday player, Valdespin is 3-for-23. And that’s not to mention tossing a throw over Jonathon Niese’s head for an error during Saturday’s sloppy game against the Cubs.

So while most of the attention rightfully will be focused on Zack Wheeler during a five-game series in Atlanta over four days, how Terry Collins handles second base also is worth monitoring.

The Mets face left-handed starters in Tuesday’s split doubleheader matinee (rookie Alex Wood) as well as Thursday (Mike Minor), giving Collins at least two chances right off the bat to sit Valdespin.

Dillon Gee (5-6, 4.84 ERA) opposes right-hander Tim Hudson (4-6, 4.41) in the 7:10 p.m. series opener today. Over his past three outings, Gee is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He has struck out 26 and walked three in 21 innings during that span.

Wheeler, who was due to fly to Atlanta on Sunday, is scheduled to hold an afternoon press conference today in advance of his Tuesday night major league debut.

Monday’s news reports:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis delivered a walk-off three-run homer against Carlos Marmol to cap a four-run ninth inning as the Mets salvaged the series finale against the Chicago Cubs with a 4-3 win on Sunday at Citi Field. It marked the first walk-off homer with the Mets trailing by two or more runs since Bobby Bonilla had a three-run walk-off homer against Cincinnati’s Rob Dibble on Aug. 30, 1992 at Shea Stadium, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Nieuwenhuis had been 1-for-15 with seven strikeouts since returning from the minors before the long ball.

The win absolved Jeremy Hefner of getting charged with a loss in an outing in which two of the three runs he surrendered in five innings were unearned. Carlos Torres, who bumped Greg Burke from the roster, tossed two scoreless relief innings in his Mets debut. Marlon Byrd homered to open the ninth. Byrd now has 11 homers in 33 games. That is his quickest to that homer total in his career. His previous best: 11 homers in his first 91 games in 2009 with the Texas Rangers.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Journal and Record.

• Read more on Torres in the Star-Ledger.


US PresswireDavid Wright gained ground on Pablo Sandoval in All-Star voting.


• Whether it was cougars, Mets employees punching mass ballots or otherwise, David Wright moved closer to injured Pablo Sandoval for the vote lead to be the NL’s starting third baseman in the July 16 All-Star Game at Citi Field. Wright now trails Sandoval by 126,403 votes.

• Wright called a players-only meeting after Saturday’s loss to the Cubs. “We got some new faces here, you got some younger players, and I want to make sure this isn't something where we're OK with where we're at, we're OK with kind of playing the rest of this season out and going through the motions,” Wright told Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger. “I want to make sure that doesn't happen."

Anthony DiComo at MLB.com reported LaTroy Hawkins and John Buck also spoke during the meeting. "I really hate team meetings," Wright told DiComo. "They're one of my least-favorite things, because it usually means that things aren't going so well. But there's times where it's good to get together and get some things off of my chest."

• At least one Met took issue with Bob Costas’ characterization of the team’s walk-off celebration Sunday. Costas, narrating game highlights, said: “Two on, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, just up from Triple-A, takes Carlos Marmol deep. Nieuwenhuis with a walk-off three-run home run. The Mets with four in the bottom of the ninth to win it, 4-3. And the team 14 games under .500 celebrates as if it just won the seventh game of the World Series. Another indication of the ongoing decline of Western civilization.”

Said recent Mets call-up David Aardsma, a veteran of eight major league seasons, in a pair of tweets: “I love Bob Costas but are we supposed to roll over and die on the season? Or should we celebrate the excitement of a huge comeback? This ... Might be the beginning of something huge, we needed that win as a team! That's what we were celebrating!!!!”

• Dave Caldwell in the Journal discussed Byrd’s Mets contribution with the outfielder.

• The Brooklyn Cyclones open their season tonight at Staten Island. Robert Gsellman is the Opening Day starter in the 7 p.m. game. Gsellman, a 13th-round pick in 2011 out of high school in Los Angeles, had made a combined seven starts this season for St. Lucie and Savannah, going 3-3 with a 3.55 ERA.

• One week after a demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas, Ike Davis went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts Sunday. He is hitting .174 (4-for-23) with four walks and seven strikeouts through six Pacific Coast League games.

• Joe Bonfe’s walk-off solo homer lifted Binghamton to a 5-4 win against Bowie. Zach Lutz’s three-run homer highlighted a six-run eighth that pulled Las Vegas even at 6, but the 51s suffered a 9-7 loss to Colorado Springs after Robert Carson surrendered three ninth-inning runs.

Savannah headed into its All-Star break on a six-game winning streak after routing Greenville, 8-0. Gabriel Ynoa tossed five scoreless innings to pick up his South Atlantic League-leading eighth win. Greg Pron’s two-run double in the fourth opened the scoring. Florida State product Jayce Boyd went 2-for-2 with three walks. Boyd, who likely is being promoted to St. Lucie after Savannah’s All-Star break, was 11-for-13 with six walks and two homers in the four-game series against Greenville.

From the bloggers … Rising Apple takes exception to Costas’ characterization of the Mets’ walk-off celebration as an indicator of the decline of civilization. … Ninety-seven percent of Sunday's Mets game was sublimely awful. But the other three percent was awfully sublime, Faith and Fear writes.

BIRTHDAYS: Shortstop Brian Ostrosser, who appeared in four games for the Mets in 1973, was born on this date in 1949 in Ontario, Canada.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Are you ready to pull the plug on Jordany Valdespin’s second-base audition?

Series preview: Mets at Cubs

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
7:26
PM ET

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman and Travis Wood this weekend at Wrigley Field.
METS (15-23, fourth place/NL East) vs. CHICAGO CUBS (17-23, fourth place/NL Central)

Friday: RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.44) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (1-5, 6.02), 2:20 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-4, 4.61) vs. RHP Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.53), 1:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.13) vs. LHP Travis Wood (4-2, 2.03), 2:20 p.m. ET

Cubs short hops

Scott Hairston (.125, 3 HR in 48 ABs), whom the Mets failed to sign because they suggested he was interested in guaranteed playing time, is off to a slow start as a Cub. Hairston signed a two-year, $5 million deal with Chicago.


Reid Comptom/USA TODAY Sports
First baseman Anthony Rizzo signed a seven-year, $41 million contract this week.


• First baseman Anthony Rizzo, 23, signed a seven-year, $41 million deal this week that includes team options for 2020 and 2021. The guaranteed portion covers one year Rizzo otherwise would have been eligible for free agency.

Darwin Barney (.191, 2 HR in 89 at-bats) has started off miserably at the plate, but GM Jed Hoyer recently said publicly that the second baseman is not in danger of a demotion. Barney, who won the 2012 NL Gold Glove, did have a three-hit game Tuesday. He opened the season on the DL after cutting a kneecap in the Cubs’ final spring-training game.

Starlin Castro was installed as the leadoff hitter against lefties a week ago. Center fielder Dave Sappelt (.178) had handled that responsibility until a demotion. David DeJesus leads off against righties. Castro signed a seven-year, $60 million deal last August.

• Dale Sveum indicated he might entertain a six-man rotation when Matt Garza is activated from the DL, likely next week. More likely, Carlos Villanueva or Scott Feldman -- probably Villanueva -- will lose his rotation spot. Garza has been out since Feb. 17 with a lat strain and was expected to make his final rehab start Thursday, with Triple-A Iowa. Villanueva, who originally was signed as a longer reliever, allowed seven runs in five innings Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.

• Third baseman Luis Valbuena returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing three games with a sprained right pinkie, which he injured sliding into third base. Valbuena was not the intended third baseman this season, but Ian Stewart has been injury-prone after re-signing for one year at $1.5 million.

• Left-hander Travis Wood is coming off an outing in which he tossed seven scoreless innings against the Rockies, which shaved his ERA to 2.03. Wood has an MLB-leading eight quality starts to open the season, matching a Cubs record set in 1919 by Hippo Vaughn in the process.

Carlos Marmol, whose three-year, $20 millon contract expires after the season, has been deposed as closer for a second straight year. Kevin Gregg, who was signed last month after being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers, began handling the role full time last Wednesday.

Marmol recently denied an internet report that he was overheard talking about wanting to get traded. “That is just not true,” he said, according to ESPNChicago.com. “I am very happy here. I always talk about how I love Chicago and I love being here. I love my teammates and everyone here. I feel bad because those words never came out of my mouth.”

Chicago reportedly could have traded Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels in November for Dan Haren, but declined the swap after getting spooked by Haren’s medical report.

Marmol actually is now third on the late-game depth chart, also behind Kyuji Fujikawa. Fujikawa, who spent the previous eight seasons as a reliever with Hanshin in Japan, was activated from the DL last week after missing nearly a month with a forearm strain.

Alfonso Soriano had a dreadful April with only two RBIs, but has been much better this month (12 RBIs in 12 games). Soriano’s $136 million contract runs through 2014. He is a trade candidate this summer. “I would like to be a part of this group, but I am a little old,” the 37-year-old Soriano told ESPNChicago.com. “I will try to have a good time playing with them now. I hope after I retire that they continue to work hard and get better.”

• The Cubs have won six of their past nine games to move out of last place. They are coming off of their first home series win since Aug. 24-26, 2012.

• Owner Tom Ricketts earlier this month threatened to move the Cubs from Wrigley Field if city does not approve changes, including outfield signs at the landmark. Rooftop clubs that look into the historic ballpark object to the potential obstruction to their views from advertising and a planned video board. A $500 million renovation of the stadium and surrounding area is planned.

Toxicology report -- bad MLB contracts

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
8:18
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US Presswire
Vernon Wells, Juan Uribe and Chone Figgins (l to r) are among the bloated contracts around Major League Baseball.
The Mets’ first task this offseason regarding Jason Bay, and for that matter Johan Santana, likely should be to see if any team has trade interest. A swap appears unlikely, though, even discounting the no-trade clause each possesses.

After all, Bay is hitting .155 with eight homers in 187 at-bats. And he is owed $19 million next season including a 2014 buyout, making it a toxic contract.

Similarly, Santana -- despite the June 1 no-hitter -- finishes the season on the DL after allowing six-plus runs in each of his final five starts. Santana is owed $31 million next season including a ’14 buyout.

Still, if the Mets were to find another team with toxic contracts to swap, who is logical? With the help of reporters around baseball, here’s a look …

THEY’VE GOT POTENTIAL

Angels: “Oh, you've come to the right place,” our friend who covers the Angels says. “The Angels have the deadest of dead weight -- Vernon Wells. The Angels are paying Wells $21 million this year to be their fourth outfielder. They owe him $21 million more in 2013 and again in 2014.”

Blue Jays: Left fielder/first baseman Adam Lind (.240, 10 HR, 40 RBIs) is owed $5 million in 2013. With buyouts of option years, the minimum owed is $7 million. “He cleared waivers at one point this season and the Blue Jays would love to get rid of his contract -- even though it's unlikely that can happen,” a team observer said.

Braves: Second baseman Dan Uggla (.215, 19 HR, 73 RBIs) is owed $39 million over the next three seasons.

Cubs: Alfonso Soriano ($18 million apiece in 2013 and ’14) and Carlos Marmol ($9.8 million next season) are the remaining sizable contracts.

Dodgers: The Dodgers inherited Carl Crawford ($102.5 million through 2017) and Josh Beckett ($31.5 million through 2014) while acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, but both should contribute. The least-productive contract: Juan Uribe, who finally pinch hit Sunday after going unused for nearly a month. Uribe, with one year remaining, is still owed $8 million.

Mariners: Left fielder Chone Figgins (.183, 2 HR, 11 RBIs) is owed $8 million next season. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez (.258, 4 HR, 14 RBIs) is owed $7.5 million in 2013 with a buyout of the following season. Says one observer: “Gutierrez has been hurt or sick for most of his deal and might produce if ever healthy. Figgins is literally dead weight.” Bay does live in the offseason in Seattle. And the combined $15.5 million owed to those two are close to Bay's $19 million.

Marlins: Heath Bell has two years, $18 million guaranteed remaining. He also has a $9 million option for 2015 based on games finished -- 55 the previous season or 100 combined in 2013 and '14. (The Mets have been down that route before.)

Pirates: Clint Barmes is signed for 2013 at $5.5 million. He's hitting .228/.266/.325 with eight homers.

Red Sox: John Lackey (12-12, 6.41 ERA) has two years left for a combined $30.5 million, with a 2015 club option at the major league minimum because of a preexisting elbow injury.

Twins: Nick Blackburn (4-9, 7.39 ERA) and middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka -- both relegated to the minors -- are under contract for 2013 and “practically sunken cost.” Blackburn is owed $5.5 million. Nishioka is owed $3.25 million including a 2014 buyout. The Twins likely would never trade Joe Mauer, despite him being owed $23 million annually through 2018.

Yankees: Alex Rodriguez to Flushing? Don't hold your breath. Still, A-Rod is owed $114 million over the next five seasons. Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia could emerge as bad contracts, with $90 million over four seasons and $119 million over five seasons owed, respectively.

(Read full post)

Mets morning briefing 7.7.12

July, 7, 2012
7/07/12
6:30
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Johan Santana matched a career high by allowing 13 hits and a furious Mets comeback bid narrowly fell short as the Cubs held on for an 8-7 win Friday at Citi Field.

A night after dramatically rallying in the ninth against Philadelphia's Jonathan Papelbon, the Amazin's nearly overcame a four-run deficit in the final frame against Cubs closer Carlos Marmol. Jordany Valdespin homered, Marmol walked three straight batters and Ike Davis delivered a two-run single to pull the Mets within one with two runners on base. However, Lucas Duda hit into a game-ending double play when Marmol snared a line drive and caught Davis straying from first.

"We had a chance, for sure," Davis told reporters postgame. "We gave ourselves an opportunity to do it, but it was just bad baserunning by me and a great play by the pitcher. I maybe should have froze. … But I thought it was going to drop in front of the second baseman and I was thinking about breaking up two.”

The Mets look to regroup today when Dillon Gee (5-7, 4.34 ERA) faces right-hander Jeff Samardzija (6-7, 4.77) at 4:10 p.m. Gee lasted a season-low five innings while surrendering four earned runs on nine hits and two walks in Chicago on June 26.

Saturday's news reports:

• Santana's outing combusted in the fifth, after Reed Johnson opened the inning by stepping on Santana's right ankle, which the southpaw already had awkwardly twisted covering first base on the play. Terry Collins said Santana told him the contact left him uninjured, and any ensuing struggles merely were the result of poor fastball command. Still, Santana said postgame the ankle remained sore. Whatever the case, Santana surrendered five runs in the frame, including a three-run homer to Anthony Rizzo and solo shot by Jeff Baker.

"I twisted it and he stepped on it, but when that happened I wasn't thinking about it," said Santana, who is expected to get the second-half-opening start in Atlanta next Friday. "... I don't think it will be a big deal."


Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Trainer Ray Ramirez observes Johan Santana after the southpaw's ankle twisted, then was stepped on by Reed Johnson at first base in the fifth inning.


Santana was charged with seven runs in 4 2/3 innings a night after R.A. Dickey against Philadelphia surrendered five runs in seven innings. The duo had started back-to-back games for the Mets 29 times since the knuckleballer's promotion in May 2010. It marked the first time they each allowed at least five earned runs while working consecutive games. (On April 17 of this season, Santana allowed six runs, but four earned, at Atlanta. Dickey then allowed eight earned runs the following day in the rain at Turner Field.)

Like with the first two games at Wrigley Field after an emotional series against the Yankees, the Mets dropped a game to the Cubs again after a spirited series, this time against Philadelphia. In Friday's loss, Justin Turner did match a career high with four hits. And David Wright produced his 27th double, tied with Kazuo Matsui (2004) for the second most in franchise history before the All-Star break. Carlos Beltran has the Mets' first-half record with 28. The Mets dropped to 12-20 this season in games started by a left-handed opposing pitcher. The 18 hits surrendered by the Mets was one shy of the most they have allowed this season, which came at Colorado on April 27 during an 18-run barrage by the Rockies.

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

Mike Puma in the Post reports the Mets plan to promote lefty reliever Josh Edgin from Triple-A Buffalo early in the second half. Edgin was a highlight of spring training. Originally not even in big league camp, he ultimately tossed 10 1/3 scoreless Grapefruit League innings and officially joined the big league side when Tim Byrdak seemed like he might miss Opening Day because of surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage. Read a recent ESPNNewYork.com farm report on Edgin here.

Jason Bay and Frank Francisco should return for the second series of the second half, at Washington. Bay should appear in his first game with Class A St. Lucie on Sunday since he suffered a concussion on June 16. He also should play later in the week for Triple-A Buffalo before being activated. Francisco (left oblique strain) is due to throw off a mound today and likely will make four subsequent minor league appearances before rejoining the Mets. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.

• Wright, Dickey and Collins received their All-Star jerseys during a Friday pregame ceremony.

• Dickey was recognized Friday as ABC News' "Person of the Week."

• If NL manager Tony La Russa was holding Dickey back from starting the All-Star Game because Yadier Molina was most equipped to catch the knuckleballer, that's no longer a factor, since Molina will not attend the All-Star Game. Molina landed on the bereavement list because of the death of his wife's grandfather. He has been replaced on the NL squad by Cardinals teammate Matt Holliday, an outfielder. If La Russa is opposed to NL starter Buster Posey catching Dickey, Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz also is on the squad as a non-starter.

Andres Torres remained out with back spasms that should sideline him for the remainder of the Cubs series. Still, Torres will avoid the DL, according to Collins. Torres said he hurt himself swinging during Wednesday's game while facing Philadelphia's Cliff Lee. Kirk Nieuwenhuis went 0-for-3 with a walk Friday and is now in a 5-for-42 rut. But Collins resolved to stick with Nieuwenhuis in the lineup Saturday.

• The independent Long Island Ducks announced the signing of ex-Met Timo Perez. Perez, 37, last appeared in the majors in 2007 with Detroit. he spent last season at Triple-A Toledo in the Tigers organization. He joins Armando Benitez with the Atlantic League team. Benitez has allowed nine earned runs in 7 2/3 innings spanning eight appearances. Former Mets farmhands Eric Niesen and Jeremy Hill also pitch for the Ducks. Read more in Newsday.

Ryan Dempster is due to return from the DL for the Cubs to start Sunday's first-half finale opposite Jon Niese. Dempster has been out for three weeks with a sore right shoulder. Paul Sullivan in The Chicago Tribune notes Dempster will be capped at 70 to 80 pitches. A clear-cut trade candidate before the July 31 deadline, Dempster's 2.11 ERA would lead the NL, but his 81 innings fall two shy of qualifying. Writes Sullivan:

The Cubs are shopping him after Dempster agreed to waive his no-trade rights to go to a contender. The Dodgers, Yankees and Braves are among the teams said to be interested, and more rumors are bound to crop up. "That's OK," he said. "They've been there. They don't bother me." Dempster insisted he hasn't thought about the possibility this could be his final start as a Cub, saying, "I can't control those things." With Dempster back, Chris Volstad is likely to be sent back to Triple-A Iowa.

Jeurys Familia tossed a season-high 6 1/3 innings and earned his first win in exactly a month, while Jenrry Mejia contributed two scoreless relief innings and Chris Schwinden made his first Buffalo appearance since May 27 in Buffalo's 5-1 win against John Lannan and Syracuse. In Brooklyn, Florida State product Jayce Boyd delivered his first professional homer, a two-run shot, and 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo followed with a game-tying RBI single later in the seventh that forced extra innings. The Cyclones ultimately won, 7-6, in 11 innings on a bases-loaded walk to Richie Rodriguez. Nimmo, by the way, had a 20-minute phone conversation Thursday with Hunter Pence, whom Nimmo reveres. The chat was arranged by Cyclones manager Rich Donnelly, whose son went to high school with the Phillies outfielder. Read the full minor league recap here.

Mejia, despite Friday's positive outing, has a 8.18 ERA in nine relief appearances. Bisons manager Wally Backman tells Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger: “I know that everybody wanted to get him there quick. And his stuff is good enough. His command is not, in my opinion.” Writes McCullough about Mejia moving to relief from a starting role earlier this season:

He lost the refuge of his daily routine. “When they moved me,” Mejia said, “I didn’t feel too comfortable. Because sometimes I’d be tight or something like that.” Backman noted that Mejia has begun to throw with “max effort” as a reliever. While starting, Mejia allowed his fastball to sit around 92 mph. Now he ignores preservation in favor of intimidation with velocity. The result is an inability to spot the cutter. “If you don’t command it, 100 mph gets turned around, too,” Backman said. “Bobby Parnell found that out a few years ago.”

• Collins credits the Mets' togetherness and camaraderie for a lot of their ability to rally late in games, according to J.P. Pelzman in the Record. “If somebody gets pinch-hit for, or you’ve got to bring a guy out of the bullpen, the fact that they’re absolutely behind each other helps a lot," Collins said. "Nobody is mad. Nobody is frustrated. They know somebody else has got to pick us up.”

• ESPN Stats & Information's Mark Simon chronicles Ruben Tejada's patience at the plate., including a .337 on-base percentage in two-strike situations entering the weekend, second in the majors only to Jose Bautista's .340 with Toronto. Andrew Keh in the Times also delves into that topic.

Scott Hairston is relishing his role as a lefty masher. He hit his ninth homer against a southpaw this season on Thursday against Cole Hamels, giving him the NL lead, one better than Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. The Mets are unlikely to be sellers at the deadline -- buying is more like it -- but Hairston would be a hot commodity if the Amazin's made him available. Writes Jared Diamond in the Journal:

Hairston always hit lefties significantly better than righties: .278 versus .224. Like all right-handed batters, he sees the ball longer against lefties, and he attributed much of his success this year to that. While Hairston still believes he can contribute against all pitchers, he came to realize as his career went by that he could help a winning team best by serving as a platoon player. It just so happens that he hits so well against lefties that he platoons into one of the most crucial spots in the Mets' lineup. "At the start of my career when I'm 23 years-old, I viewed myself as a starter," Hairston said. "Then the role changes, but hey, I'm embracing it."

TRIVIA: For which two major league teams did Dempster pitch before joining the Cubs?

Friday's answer: David Wright's eight career games delivering a walk-off RBI are tied for the franchise record with Kevin McReynolds.

Series preview: Mets at Cubs

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
9:20
AM ET

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Travis Wood, Randy Wells and Jeff Samardzija at Wrigley Field.
METS (39-34, second place/NL East) vs. CHICAGO CUBS (24-48, sixth place/NL East)

Monday: LHP Johan Santana (5-3, 3.00) vs. LHP Travis Wood (1-3, 4.14), 8:05 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee (5-5, 4.27) vs. RHP Randy Wells (1-2, 4.91), 8:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: LHP Jon Niese (5-3, 3.75) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-6, 4.34), 2:20 p.m. ET

Cubs short hops

• Right-hander Matt Garza (3-6, 4.06 ERA in 14 starts) is among the most likely Cubs to be traded. Garza, 28, is earning $9.5 million this season and is under control via arbitration through 2013 before being eligible for free agency. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo lists the Braves, Tigers, Cardinals, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Royals as potential landing spots.

• Left fielder Alfonso Soriano (.269, 14 HR, 44 RBIs) had 12 long balls in a 26-day stretch beginning May 15, but still has been the subject of fan booing. Soriano was caught standing at the plate when Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks dropped his screaming line drive in a June 16 game. “I think our fans know, because they’ve watched Sori play all year, that he’s been hustling from Opening Day on and given a great effort,” first-year president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told ESPNChicago.com in defense of Soriano. “It was an unfortunate natural reaction.”


Rick Scuteri/US Presswire
First base prospect Anthony Rizzo should make his Cubs debut during the series.


Randy Wells will make his second start for injured Ryan Dempster, whose 22-inning scoreless streak is frozen but intact because he landed on the disabled list last Monday with a tight right lat muscle. Dempster should return in plenty of time for the Cubs to trade him before the July 31 deadline. Wells allowed three runs on five hits and four walks and was pulled with his pitch count at 69 after 3 2/3 innings Wednesday against the White Sox.

Travis Wood has now drawn Justin Verlander, Jake Peavy and Santana in his past three starts. Opposite the White Sox’s Peavy in his most recent outing, Wood allowed one run on four hits in six innings to post his first victory since last Aug. 19, as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Wood, 25, was acquired in a Dec. 23 trade for Sean Marshall. He has a 2.92 ERA over his past four starts. He opened the season by making seven starts with Triple-A Iowa.

• Hyped first-base prospect Anthony Rizzo is expected to be promoted this series. Rizzo was acquired from San Diego on Jan. 6 with Zach Cates for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na. Because he logged 68 days in the majors last season with the Padres, the 22-year-old Rizzo had to remain in the minors at least through Friday in order to delay his free agency for an extra year, until after the 2018 season. Rizzo had a rough time in the majors with San Diego last season, hitting .141 with one homer and nine RBIs in 128 at-bats.

• Rizzo’s imminent promotion should push lefty-hitting Bryan LaHair back into relatively unfamiliar right field, from first base. LaHair (.286, 13 HR, 28 RBIs) was a nine-year minor leaguer who was prepared to play in Japan this season before opting for one final stab at a major league career.

Jeff Samardzija moved into the rotation this year. Only five of his 128 major league appearances before this season had come in a starting role.

• In addition to Epstein, the Cubs’ new braintrust includes former Padres GM Jed Hoyer now serving in that role in Chicago. First-year manager Dale Sveum spent 12 seasons as a major league infielder. Sveum also managed the final 12 games of the 2008 season with the Brewers after Ned Yost was jettisoned. He rode CC Sabathia to a wild-card berth as the Mets missed out on the playoffs on the final day for a second straight season.

• With few opportunities, closer Carlos Marmol has only four saves this season. His next save will be the 100th of his career. The only other Cubs to have reached that plateau: Lee Smith (180), Bruce Sutter (133) and Randy Myers (112).

• Catcher Geovany Soto (.174, 5 HR, 8 RBIs) returned June 18 from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after missing a month.

• Shorstop Starlin Castro (.304, 6 HR, 38 RBIs), the Cubs’ lone representative at last year’s All-Star game, again has heated up. Castro drew Sveum’s attention earlier this month for repeated in-game mental lapses. He nonetheless has started all 72 games. Atlanta’s Dan Uggla is the only other major leaguer to start every game for his team this season.

• Third baseman Ian Stewart received another cortisone shot for a left wrist impingement, hoping to at least delay surgery until the offseason. He is not eligible to return from the disabled list until Thursday, after the series. Former Indian Luis Valbuena has manned third base in Stewart’s absence.

• Center fielder Tony Campana leads the majors with 24 steals, one ahead of the Dodgers’ Dee Gordon.

• The Cubs are 3-16 in games started by left-handed opposing pitcher.

Last series results

Chicago won, 2-1, at Citi Field, Sept. 9-11, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Mets 5, Cubs 4: Justin Turner doubled in the decisive run with two outs in the ninth inning. Manny Acosta had surrendered a tying single to Darwin Barney with two outs in the top half. Turner (three hits) also had a tiebreaking double in the fifth. Jason Bay doubled twice and threw out a runner at the plate. David Wright and Bay each had an RBI to help the Mets overcome an early 3-0 deficit. More

Cubs 5, Mets 4: Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run single in the top of the ninth, a half-inning after the Cubs blew a three-run lead. Jason Bay had given the Mets a 4-3 lead with a two-out, two-run single. More sloppy play by New York in the ninth on an overall rough day in the field, and another meltdown by Bobby Parnell (3-6), aided Chicago. The Cubs built an early 2-0 lead with help from two errors by Jose Reyes. David Wright made his second error and New York's fourth of the game when he couldn't handle Geovany Soto's grounder leading off the ninth. Pinch hitter Bryan LaHair doubled to put runners at second and third. Parnell then got two outs to bring up Ramirez. Terry Collins considered walking him, but opted not to put pressure on Parnell to pitch with the bases loaded. More

Cubs 10, Mets 6 (11 innings): Carlos Pena hit a go-ahead single in Chicago's six-run 11th, and the Cubs won a game that ended nearly five hours after the Mets held a touching ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Josh Stinson (0-1) walked Marlon Byrd to start the 11th and gave up a single to Bryan LaHair. Pena singled for the lead. Pinch hitter Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney each hit two-run doubles off Ryota Igarashi before the first out, and Geovany Soto added a sacrifice fly. New York trailed 4-1 after five innings but scored twice in the sixth off Matt Garza. The Mets tied it with an unearned run when reliever Jeff Samardzija made a bad throw. The Mets loaded the bases in the first, ninth and 10th innings but came up empty. More

Series preview: Mets vs. Nationals

April, 9, 2012
4/09/12
7:30
AM ET

US Presswire
Edwin Jackson makes his Nats debut Monday against the Mets, followed by Ross Detwiler on Tuesday and Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday.
METS (3-0, first place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (2-1, second place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Mike Pelfrey vs. RHP Edwin Jackson, 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee vs. LHP Ross Detwiler, 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: LHP Johan Santana (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (0-0, 1.29), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

Ross Detwiler claimed the fifth-starter’s job over fellow southpaw John Lannan, in the spot available because Chien-Ming Wang strained his left hamstring March 15. Lannan, assigned to Triple-A Syracuse, asked GM Mike Rizzo for a trade after the decision, then sent an email to beat reporters the following day acknowledging the request. After Wang suffered the injury, manager Davey Johnson had said Lannan would be the fifth starter. Lannan is due to earn $5 million this season. The Nats are only expected to trade Lannan if they get something of consequence in return, since they will need starting pitching depth during the season. Detwiler’s spring-training ERA was 3.06, to Lannan’s 5.14. The Nats did not think Lannan would be comfortable in the bullpen, so they sent him to Syracuse and instead carried Craig Stammen in a major league relief role.

• Cleanup hitter Michael Morse is expected to be activated from the disabled list as soon as Tuesday. He homered Friday, during a rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg, as he returns from a right lat muscle tear. After coming to New York on Saturday for preplanned treatment, Morse returned to the Eastern League club Sunday to continue a rehab assignment. Bergen Catholic product Mark DeRosa started in left field the first two games of the season, while ex-Met Xavier Nady manned the position Sunday. DeRosa was signed at winter meetings to fill the void after Chris Marrero suffered a hamstring injury in winter ball in November that will sideline him the first half of the season. DeRosa has undergone three wrist surgeries in past two years, but appears healthy now. Nady signed in mid-March after being jobless.


Rob Grabowski/US Presswire
With Drew Storen on the DL, ex-Phillie Brad Lidge picked up the save on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.


Jayson Werth is expected to play center field against left-handed pitchers, with Nady manning right field. Primarily the right fielder, Werth is due to make $13 million in 2012, in the second season of a seven-year, $126 million deal. He hit .232 with 20 homers, 58 RBIs and 19 steals in his first season with the Nats.

Roger Bernadina has started in center field the first three games against right-handers, while fellow lefty-hitting outfielder Rick Ankiel opens the season on the disabled list with quadriceps tightness. Ankiel, who originally re-signed with the Nats on a minor league deal, will earn $1.25 million this season. He has started a rehab assignment, but is not eligible to be activated until Saturday.

Chad Tracy spent last season in Japan, where he hit only .235 with one homer and 19 RBIs in 149 at-bats with Hiroshima. Tracy has been big off the bench so far. After making the Opening Day roster because of Ankiel’s quadriceps injury, Tracy already twice has delivered successful pinch hits -- including a two-run, go-ahead single in the eighth Saturday against Carlos Marmol, who was attempting a four-out save.

Stephen Strasburg started Opening Day and limited the Cubs to one run and five hits while striking out five and walking one in seven innings. Strasburg breezed through the first two innings, requiring only 14 pitches. He ultimately received a no-decision. The Nats have pledged to cap Strasburg’s innings at 160 this season after he missed most of last season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, although playoff contention would test that commitment.

Drew Storen, who recorded 43 saves last year, opened the season on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. Brad Lidge, who signed a one-year, $1 million deal, and flame-throwing Henry Rodriguez will close in Storen’s absence. Lidge, 35, picked up the save on Opening Day at Wrigley Field -- only the ex-Phillie’s second save since Sept. 27, 2010. The Nats have an ultra-deep bullpen. Rodriguez has been clocked at 101 mph, with a 94 mph changeup. Set-up man Tyler Clippard (3-0, 1.83 ERA in 2011) earned an All-Star invitation last season.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman agreed to a six-year, $100 million extension Feb. 26. The deal is on top of the combined $26 million he was due to earn between this season and 2013. The Nats have a team option for 2020.

(Read full post)

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.297 7 37 56
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 14
RBIL. Duda 48
RD. Murphy 56
OPSL. Duda .841
WB. Colon 8
ERAJ. Niese 2.96
SOZ. Wheeler 105