New York Mets: Chris Owings
FIRST PITCH: When will the Mets awake from their hitting doldrums?
For a fourth straight day Sunday, the Amazin’s failed to exceed four hits. If the Mets again fail to do so Monday, they will tie the franchise record. During a pair of Septembers -- in 2004 and 1963 -- the Mets went five straight games with four hits or fewer in each.
Bartolo Colon (11-10, 3.85 ERA) opposes right-hander Kyle Hendricks (4-1, 1.79) in the 12:10 p.m. series finale against the Cubs.
Monday’s news reports:
• David Wright looks like he will miss multiple games with a left-shoulder injury that worsened when he was struck by a fastball from Dan Straily in the sixth inning on Saturday.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Straily was not throwing at Wright.
"Somebody thought they might have thrown at him. Why?” Collins told Matt Ehalt in the Record. “It’s a 3-1 game. You just don’t throw at people to throw at people.”
Read more on Wright’s absence in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Rookie Rafael Montero limited the Cubs to one run in 7 1/3 innings, but the Mets ultimately lost, 2-1, Sunday at Citi Field. Jenrry Mejia surrendered a game-deciding homer to Starlin Castro on the first pitch of the ninth inning. Curtis Granderson had snapped an 0-for-17 drought and evened the score with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.
Montero could be Vegas-bound with Jacob deGrom moving toward returning from the disabled list to face the Dodgers next weekend in Los Angeles. deGrom threw off a mound Sunday for the first time since going on the disabled list.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Read more on deGrom in the Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.
• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggests that while the Mets and Cubs look like perfect candidates to outsiders for a pitching-for-shortstop swap, it may not happen. That’s because Chicago’s front office knows the value of young hitting and has the resources to buy pitching like Jon Lester. And it’s because Mets GM Sandy Alderson and crew don’t like making equitable trades and don’t seemed inclined to part with their elite talent. Writes Sherman:
Nevertheless, the sense I get currently from the Mets is they would like to protect Harvey, Syndergaard and probably Wheeler and use other elements to solve positional problems. So I could see the Mets shooting a little lower on the shortstop food chain by trying to use Dillon Gee, Niese, Sunday’s starter Rafael Montero or others from their deep trove to see if they could get, say, the White Sox’s Alexei Ramirez or try for an Arizona shortstop -- the Diamondbacks seem much more willing to talk Didi Gregorius than Chris Owings, but while a defensive whiz, Gregorius might not project to hit enough for the Mets.
• Anthony McCarron in the Daily News quotes a scout labeling Montero a “solid No. 4 starter.” Read more on Montero in Newsday.
• Vic Black takes the 7 train from Manhattan to Citi Field, writes Lisa L. Colangelo in the Daily News.
• Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs in five innings and tossed 96 pitches in Las Vegas’ 4-0 loss at Omaha. Binghamton’s Steven Matz allowed one run in seven innings in a 1-0 loss to Reading. Matt Oberste delivered a tie-breaking RBI double and Savannah beat Greenville, 3-2. Jhoan Urena’s two-run double highlighted a five-run sixth as Brooklyn beat Vermont, 7-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets left-hander Pat Misch turns 33.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets exceed four hits on Monday?
@AdamRubinESPN Fire Dave Hudgens!— Kevin E. Collins (@TheRealKColl) August 17, 2014
Getty ImagesThe Mets are due to face Chase Anderson, Josh Collmenter and Bronson Arroyo this weekend.
Friday: RHP Bartolo Colon (3-5, 5.34) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (2-0, 5.06), 7:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-4, 4.53) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (2-2, 4.02), 4:10 p.m. ET
Sunday: RHP Rafael Montero (0-2, 6.97) vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (4-3, 4.45), 1:10 p.m. ET
Diamondbacks short hops
• Tony La Russa, who is due to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 27, was hired as the team’s chief baseball officer last Saturday. He last was affiliated with a team in 2011, when he managed the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title. La Russa more recently worked with commissioner Bud Selig, including on implementing the new instant-replay and plate-collision guidelines. La Russa has final say on all baseball matters, which means longtime GM Kevin Towers has been stripped of considerable power.
• Right-hander Chase Anderson’s third major-league start comes against the Mets. He debuted May 11, limiting the Chicago White Sox to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out six in 5 1/3 innings. Bullpen coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. told the Arizona Republic that Anderson has the best changeup in their system. The 26-year-old Anderson, a ninth-round pick in 2009 from the University of Oklahoma, had been 4-2 with a 0.69 ERA and 0.718 WHIP in six starts at Double-A Mobile. He logged only 205 1/3 innings from 2011 through ’13 because of elbow troubles, which also prompted the organization to convert him to a reliever to close last season in Triple-A. Anderson had a 6.52 ERA in 13 relief appearances and reverted to starting this year.
• The Mets are seeing the reigning co-NL Players of the Week in consecutive series. Yasiel Puig has departed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but fellow winner A.J. Pollock now arrives at Citi Field with the D-backs. Pollock, a center fielder, hit .500 (11-for-22) with two homers last week.
• Left fielder Mark Trumbo, who was acquired during the offseason from the Los Angeles Angels, has been sidelined since April 21 with a stress fracture in his left foot. Trumbo had been hitting .210 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in 81 at-bats. Righty-hitting Cody Ross primarily has played the position in Trumbo’s absence, with lefty-hitting rookie Ender Inciarte also seeing some action in left field.
• Didi Gregorius, the expendable shortstop for the D-backs, is hitting .296 with three homers, 20 RBIs and a .386 on-base percentage in 186 at-bats with Triple-A Reno. Chris Owings, who beat out Gregorius for the D-backs’ shortstop job, is hitting .275 with two homers and seven RBIs in 142 at-bats. Gregorius has appeared in 30 games at second base and 18 games at shortstop in the Pacific Coast League this season as the D-backs try to increase his versatility in case they retain him.
• Ex-Met Oliver Perez has a 1.26 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings over his past 15 appearances.
• First baseman Paul Goldschmidt’s 33 RBIs rank fifth in the National League. His .315 average is 10th. Goldschmidt hit a 437-foot homer against Shaun Marcum last season at Citi Field.
• After opening the season in the bullpen, Josh Collmenter entered the rotation April 14 to face the Mets in Phoenix. He allowed three runs in four innings. Collmenter swapped roles with Randall Delgado, who had allowed nine runs in 7 1/3 innings over a pair of early season starts.
• Bronson Arroyo signed a two-year, $23.5 million contract with the D-backs on Feb. 7. The deal includes an $11 million team option for 2016 or $4.5 million buyout. Arroyo, 37, has reached the 200-inning plateau eight of the past nine years. The exception: 2011 with the Cincinnati Reds, when he was one inning shy. The Mets battered Arroyo for nine runs in 3 1/3 innings on April 15 at Chase Field. Kirk Nieuwenhuis delivered a two-run homer.
• Second baseman Aaron Hill returned Wednesday after missing three games with a sore shoulder.
• Third baseman Martin Prado departed Sunday’s game with a blurry left eye, but was prescribed medicine and did not miss a start.
Getty ImagesThe Mets face Josh Collmenter, Bronson Arroyo and Brandon McCarthy during a series against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Monday: RHP Zack Wheeler (0-2, 5.73) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (0-0, 2.25), 9:40 p.m. ET
Tuesday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (1-0, 4.09) vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (1-0, 4.82), 9:40 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (0-0, 5.03) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (0-2, 7.78), 3:40 p.m. ET
Diamondbacks short hops
• After allowing nine runs in 7 1/3 innings in two starts, Randall Delgado has been reassigned to the bullpen. Josh Collmenter steps into the slot Monday against the Mets.
Collmenter made 49 relief appearances for the D-backs last season. He last started on Sept. 30, 2012. Collmenter had a four-inning save Wednesday, so he is reasonably stretched out for the starting duty.
Delgado, who began wearing glasses last year, incidentally has dropped using them because of comfort -- although it leaves his vision less than perfect.
• Bronson Arroyo signed a two-year, $23.5 million contract with the D-backs on Feb. 7. The deal includes an $11 million team option for 2016 or $4.5 million buyout. Arroyo, 37, has combined to log only 9 1/3 innings over two starts. He has reached the 200-inning plateau eight of the past nine years. The exception: 2011 with the Cincinnati Reds, when he was one inning shy.
• Ex-Met Oliver Perez signed a two-year, $4.25 million deal with the D-backs on March 10. He has allowed six runs (five earned) on four hits, four walks and a hit batter in seven appearances spanning 5 1/3 innings.
• The D-backs signed veteran left-hander Randy Wolf on a minor-league deal Friday for pitching depth. Arizona lost 2013 NL All-Star Patrick Corbin for this season due to an elbow ligament tear that required Tommy John surgery. The D-backs have an MLB-worst 5.95 ERA. They also have allowed 20 homers. Only the Mets, with 21, have allowed more homers in the majors.
Wolf asked for his release from the Seattle Mariners last month after declining to sign an agreement that would have allowed the club to release him during the season’s first 45 days without being responsible for his remaining salary. John Lannan agreed to sign that type of stipulation with the Mets.
• Outfielder Cody Ross, who suffered a dislocated right hip last August against the Mets, is a week into a rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno and may return during this series.
• Two-time Gold Glove-winning outfielder Gerardo Parra has a .340 average (36-for-106) in 31 career games against the Mets.
• Didi Gregorius, who was made available in trade talks by the D-backs, instead ended up in Triple-A, where he is now splitting time between shortstop and second base. Gregorius, who was born in Amsterdam, is hitting .357 with one homer, four RBIs and five walks in 11 games with Reno.
Chris Owings, who won the big-league shortstop job, is hitting .295 with a .340 on-base percentage after going 2-for-3 with a walk Sunday as the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a sweep in Phoenix.
• Addison Reed, who had a career-high 40 saves for the Chicago White Sox last season, was acquired on Dec. 13 for third baseman Matt Davidson. That has pushed incumbent closer/ex-Met J.J. Putz to a setup role.
• First baseman Paul Goldschmidt finished second in 2013 NL MVP voting after hitting .302 with 36 doubles, 36 homers and 125 RBIs. Goldschmidt is hitting .317 with two homers and nine RBIs so far this season.
USA TODAY SportsDidi Gregorius and Nick Franklin are shortstop options for the Mets, but not Pete Kozma.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets break camp in exactly one week to fly to Montreal for a pair of final exhibition games. And Terry Collins says it is now time to get down to serious business.
On Thursday at 1:10 p.m. at Tradition Field, Zack Wheeler is scheduled to oppose Ervin Santana (SNY).
Santana will be making his Braves debut after signing a one-year, $14.1 million deal. Atlanta needed the pitching help after losing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. (See the Braves full travel list here.)
For the Mets, Collins has pledged that either Lucas Duda (hamstring) or Ike Davis (calf) will start at first base against the Braves. Both have been getting at-bats in minor-league games, but not running after making contact. It has been 17 days since Duda and 18 days since Davis last appeared in a Grapefruit League game. A healthy bit of skepticism exists among scouts that Davis will be ready for the season.
Jonathon Niese is expected to resume throwing, at least on flat ground, after receiving a cortisone shot in New York on Monday to address elbow inflammation.
Thursday’s news reports:
• The Washington Nationals announced Stephen Strasburg will start on Opening Day, on March 31 against the Mets at Citi Field. Gio Gonzalez will start Game 2 and Jordan Zimmermann will start Game 3.
Didi Gregorius, not Chris Owings, is the shortstop the Arizona Diamondbacks are willing to trade, sources tell ESPNNewYork.com. One industry source unaffiliated with the Mets or D-backs believes a potential trade between the teams “has legs.” Nick Franklin of the Seattle Mariners is a potential alternative acquisition. The St. Louis Cardinals are making Pete Kozma available, but the Mets are unlikely to be interested because the offensively challenged Kozma is not a clear upgrade over Ruben Tejada.
Three Arizona scouts, including special assistant Todd Greene, watched a Mets intrasquad game Tuesday in which Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Logan Verrett and Jeff Walters pitched. With the loss of planned Opening Day starter Patrick Corbin, the D-backs are looking for MLB-ready pitching in exchange for Gregorius.
ESPN.com’s Matt Meyers, meanwhile, makes the case for Wilmer Flores at shortstop. Meyers notes the Mets’ starting pitchers are fly-ball oriented anyway, and reminds readers stocky Kevin Mitchell started at shortstop on days Sid Fernandez pitched in 1986.
Flores is expected to see ample time at shortstop with Triple-A Las Vegas in April, with the Mets open to having him oust Tejada as the shortstop early in the season if Flores can demonstrate competency there.
Read more on potential shortstop trades from Jon Heyman at CBSSports.com. Read more on Flores in the Star-Ledger.
• Paul DePodesta told ESPNNewYork.com plenty of options are on the table for conserving Syndergaard’s innings count with Las Vegas, including five-inning/60-pitch appearances, sporadic one-inning relief appearances rather than full starts, and a six-man rotation.
• DePodesta did a podcast with “Who Are You” sports about his life and baseball. Listen here.
• Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola has found solace at the ballpark after the passing of his father and mother in a four-week span during spring training, writes Anthony Rieber in Newsday. Read more on Viola in the Record.
• The Mets’ bullpen is projected to include Bobby Parnell, Jose Valverde, Vic Black, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Torres, Scott Rice and Lannan, despite Black’s struggles. Kyle Farnsworth has a contract “out” Sunday, so there should be a resolution soon on his expected failure to make the Opening Day roster. Read a bullpen review in the Post.
• Read more on Wheeler in the Post.
• Águilas Cibaeñas has hired Andy Barkett as manager of its Dominican winter-league team. Wally Backman recently had interviewed for that position in Port St. Lucie. Read more (in Spanish) in El Caribe.
• Mets fan Daniel Franklin (@Stan_Kankels), a 22-year-old from Chappaqua who now lives in Manhattan, has been selected to participate in MLB’s “Fan Cave” this season. He is a sound-board operator at WABC 770 AM in NYC. Read more at MLB.com.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal notes the Mets still have question marks with Tejada, at first base and with Jenrry Mejia’s role. Marc Carig in Newsday focuses on the uncertainty with Tejada and first base.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests the Mets are playing unreasonable hardball with Matt Harvey. … Blogging Mets predicts the club will trade Niese and Dillon Gee.
BIRTHDAYS: Manny Alexander was born on this date in 1971.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you believe Lucas Duda, Ike Davis or neither will be in the Mets’ Grapefruit League lineup on Thursday against the Braves?
Should the #Mets just plan on going with Murphy at first base at this point? This is a mess— Mitch Petanick (@FirstPitchMitch) March 19, 2014
FIRST PITCH: The Mets have their lone off-day of spring training Wednesday -- major and minor leaguers -- then gear up for a relatively intense final stretch before breaking camp.
Terry Collins said priority No. 1 is getting his first basemen on the field, with the manager pledging either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda would start Thursday’s Grapefruit League game against the Atlanta Braves.
With camp now down to 38 players, including rehabbing Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner, Collins said starters will get more time and relievers will begin to get action with in-season roles in mind.
The Mets break camp in eight days. They then head to Montreal for a pair of exhibition games against the Toronto Blue Jays before Opening Day on March 31 against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
“You bet it’s the critical part of the spring,” Collins said. “We’re going to tighten some things up around here. … It’s time to play like we’re getting ready for the season.”
Wednesday’s news reports:
“We don’t want to keep preaching patience, but there’s some real light at the end of the tunnel here,” Collins said Tuesday. “[Syndergaard] wasn’t the only guy sent down today who is going to pitch in the big leagues, and pitch for a long time in the big leagues. Montero is going to do it. Mazzoni is going to do it.”
The Mets likely will be tight with Syndergaard’s early season pitch counts so he has innings left in the majors during the second half. Syndergaard logged only 124 2/3 innings last season including the Eastern League playoffs and Futures Game, so 155 innings is a rough approximation for 2014. The Mets likely will consider a promotion for Syndergaard sometime in mid-June or beyond, after delaying his arbitration eligibility.
“He ain’t coming out after the fifth up here,” Collins said about pitch limits.
Syndergaard, meanwhile, surrendered one hit but walked four in four innings in a minor-league intrasquad game hours after receiving his demotion news.
Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Journal and MLB.com.
• Harvey remains determined to return to the Mets in August, only 10 months after Tommy John surgery. He said he is undeterred by Atlanta’s Kris Medlen and Oakland’s Jarrod Parker recently learning they required that procedure for a second time. Harvey also remains adamant he wants to rehab primarily in New York and be around the team, which is his right under the collective bargaining agreement, even if the team disagrees. He dislikes the team’s attempts to muzzle him from speaking with the media and tweeting, too. Read more in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Three Arizona Diamondbacks scouts, including special assistant Todd Greene, quietly watched Mets minor leaguers in an intrasquad game Tuesday, furthering speculation that the Mets ultimately could acquire one of their shortstops: Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings. Seattle Mariners scout Joe McIlvaine also was in attendance for an intrasquad game that included Logan Verrett pitching and Kevin Plawecki catching. The Mariners are likely to trade Nick Franklin.
On Franklin, FanGraphs tackles the topic about whether he can be a passable shortstop.
• Jenrry Mejia still appears ticketed for Las Vegas to open the season. So does Wilmer Flores, who should see some serious action at shortstop with the 51s in April.
• Jonathon Niese returned to camp Tuesday and expressed relief that his second spring-training scare turned out to be only inflammation of the left elbow, with no structural damage. Niese said he does not have an ego about starting Opening Day.
Having him open the season on the DL and making his season debut April 6 against the Cincinnati Reds continues to seem the most viable option. The Mets insist they have not yet reset their rotation now that Niese is likely to miss Opening Day, beyond knowing that Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee will start during the season-opening three-game series against the Nats.
Read more on Niese in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• The Mets have arranged their starting pitchers for the next week of spring training, beginning with Zack Wheeler facing the Braves on Thursday at Tradition Field.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed two homers, including a shot by Miguel Cabrera, but the Mets rallied for a 5-4 win against the Detroit Tigers on Andrew Brown’s walk-off RBI single. Read more at MLB.com.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets minor-league catcher Landon Powell, now a volunteer assistant coach at Furman University, turns 32. ... Prospect Yeixon Ruiz, who hit .304 at Kingsport last season, is 23.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Would you prefer Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings, Nick Frankin, Stephen Drew, Ruben Tejada or Wilmer Flores as the Opening Day shortstop?
What a tremendous opportunity but there's still work to be done.— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) March 18, 2014
Arizona dispatched special assistant Todd Greene and two other scouts. They saw Syndergaard facing right-hander Logan Verrett on a back field, as well as Kevin Plawecki behind the plate. Former Mets GM Joe McIlvaine was on hand representing the Mariners.
The Mariners and Diamondbacks are the two most likely trade partners for the Mets if they upgrade from Ruben Tejada, which remains a possibility. Arizona has shortstops Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings, while the Mariners are looking to trade Nick Franklin.
USA TODAY SportsIf Jon Niese misses any significant time, two of three from Jenrry Mejia, Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan should be in the Opening Day rotation.
FIRST PITCH: Jonathon Niese is scheduled to have an MRI and be examined by team doctor David Altchek on Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.
Niese departed Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals after two innings and 35 pitches with elbow discomfort. The southpaw did not believe the injury was severe, but clearly he now is unlikely to make the Opening Day start on March 31 against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
Terry Collins previously had indicated Bartolo Colon is the probable Opening Day starter if Niese is not available, with Dillon Gee the other consideration.
If Niese’s elbow issue is not severe, the Mets still can place him on the disabled list to open the season and backdate it nine days into spring training.
That means Niese would be eligible to return April 6 against the Cincinnati Reds, which happens to be the first day the Mets would need a fifth starter. That also would allow the Mets to carry an extra bench player (Andrew Brown or Wilmer Flores, perhaps?) or an extra bullpen arm for the first five games of the season.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was the probable fifth starter before Niese’s injury anyway.
If Niese is lost beyond April 6 and the Mets need another starter, the team would need to debate John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia’s candidacies as the fill-in. Lannan otherwise should make the team in relief.
Mets officials previously have told ESPNNewYork.com that they do not want to continue to shift Mejia between starting and relieving. If Mejia is not in the rotation to start the year, team brass will have a serious discussion late in spring training about Mejia’s future role -- and then stick with it.
Rafael Montero is not an Opening Day rotation consideration, but will get consideration for a relief role, according to Collins. Still, unless Lannan ends up in the rotation, it is difficult to see where Montero might fit in the pen to start the season. The projected bullpen pre-Niese injury has included Bobby Parnell, Vic Black, Jose Valverde, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia, Scott Rice and Lannan.
Meanwhile, the Mets who traveled to Las Vegas were due to land in the early morning hours on Monday. Most of those players likely will be excused from an afternoon game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. Lannan opposes Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez at 1:05 p.m. (WOR 710 AM).
Monday’s news reports:
• Cory Vaughn homered against Adam Wainwright and finished with four RBIs as the Mets beat the Cards, 10-4, despite losing Niese to injury after 35 pitches. Ruben Tejada committed his fourth Grapefruit League error and was hitless in four at-bats, dropping his average to .091 (2-for-22). Read more on Tejada and the game against the Cards in the Post and MLB.com.
• Mejia and Montero allowed a combined five runs (four earned) in five innings as the Mets lost to the Chicago Cubs, 6-3, in Vegas. Juan Lagares made a dazzling catch and also threw out a runner at the plate. Flores started his second spring-training game at shortstop, with Collins pledging more action there. Brown belted a two-run homer and Zach Lutz contributed his third spring-training homer. Read more on Mejia and the Vegas game in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Read more on Niese’s injury in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News suggests it might make sense to trade some of the Mets’ young pitching for offense while they’re still prospects and before they get hurt. Of course, Niese’s injury potentially means the Mets have less room to deal because they need the pitching depth. Still, Harper notes, the Arizona Diamondbacks have two shortstops, Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings, and now may need a starting pitcher with Patrick Corbin apparently headed for Tommy John surgery.
• Matt Ehalt in the Record speaks with Matt den Dekker about his solid camp. He is hitting .379 (11-for-29) in Grapefruit League play.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal notes Las Vegas is a tough place for prospects to pitch. As for whether the 51s will remain the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate beyond this season, when the current player-development agreement will have expired, Las Vegas president Don Logan told Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger: "I think the geography is going to come into play. If there is a team on the East Coast available it just makes more sense maybe for them. But if you’re going to be in the West, this is the best place to be, because we have tons of air access to everywhere in the country."
• How did the Mets celebrate Curtis Granderson’s 33rd birthday on Friday night in Vegas? Anthony DiComo at MLB.com writes:
After a dinner at Andiamo Steakhouse, the Mets gathered around a Sigma Derby machine on the casino floor, where players could wager quarters on fake horses.
"Guys were upset they lost six dollars," Granderson recalled, laughing.
It was a way for the Mets to blow off some steam, enjoying their two-day trip to Vegas for a pair of exhibition games against the Cubs. While some members of the traveling party stuck to relaxing -- David Wright spent much of his free time watching college basketball on television -- many others dabbled in what Vegas had to offer.
BIRTHDAYS: Lagares turns 25. ... Former Mets catcher Vance Wilson is 41.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Which two pitchers should fill the Jon Niese and fifth starter’s roles assuming Niese misses a portion of the beginning of the season?
A smile is the lighting system of the face, the cooling system of the head and the heating system of the heart. #buenasnoches— Jose Reyes (@lamelaza_7) March 17, 2014
FIRST PITCH: John Lannan’s best bet to make the Opening Day roster appears as a second bullpen left-hander alongside Scott Rice, but Lannan continues to be evaluated at as a starter, too.
Lannan gets Wednesday’s Grapefruit League start against the St. Louis Cardinals at Tradition Field at 1:10 p.m. (SNY). He opposes right-hander Carlos Martinez.
Terry Collins expects Daniel Murphy to be in the lineup Wednesday for the first time since injuring his right calf on an aggressive slide into second baseman Kolten Wong in Friday’s Grapefruit League game. The manager added that Ike Davis (calf) and Lucas Duda (hamstring) may only be a day away from at least serving as designated hitters on the minor-league side of the complex.
Wednesday’s news reports:
One source also asserts the Mets are leaning toward carrying Daisuke Matsuzaka over Jenrry Mejia as the fifth starter, although they still consider that a competition. If Mejia is not in the big-league rotation, a serious powwow would be convened to determine whether Mejia becomes a reliever, or is used as a starter at Triple-A Las Vegas. Regardless, Mets officials want to make a decision regarding Mejia’s role and stick with it, rather than continue to shuffle him between the rotation and relief.
Lannan, meanwhile, is receptive to a relief assignment if it will get him on the Opening Day roster.
Read the full roster projection and analysis here.
Read more on Lannan as a potential reliever in the Record.
• Collins became concerned Tuesday when a fastball from Jonathon Niese to open his outing registered only 79 mph. Still, after allowing four runs on six hits and two walks against the St. Louis Cardinals, Niese suggested his velocity was in the upper-80s by the end of his two-inning appearance. More importantly, he insisted his shoulder felt fine.
Niese remains lined up for Opening Day. Collins said he likely would use Bartolo Colon, or possibly Dillon Gee, on March 31 at Citi Field against the Washington Nationals if Niese’s final three exhibition starts reveal the southpaw is not ready for the season opener.
Read more in the Times, Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Wilmer Flores went 2-for-3 with a walk Tuesday, but it was his fielding assignment that was notable. Flores started a game at shortstop for the first time since 2011. He had a miscue on the first grounder to him, losing the handle as he transferred the ball from his glove to throwing hard. Regarding shortstop, “I definitely can play,” Flores insisted afterward. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Zach Lutz delivered a tiebreaking solo homer in the ninth against Trevor Rosenthal as the Mets beat St. Louis, 9-8, at Roger Dean Stadium. Josh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis also went deep in the victory. Read more at MLB.com.
• Tuesday's game included a ninth-inning replay challenge initiated by the Cardinals, with St. Louis trailing by a run. It would have loaded the bases with none out against Miguel Socolovich if an out call at third base had been reversed. Dissatisfied that the call on the field was upheld by replay, manager Mike Matheny wants MLB officials in New York to weigh in.
• Palm Beach County commissioners discussed the future of baseball on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida at an open meeting Tuesday. The Mets are among the handful of teams -- along with the Cards, Miami Marlins and Nationals -- that are isolated on this side of Florida, with only a few opponents within a two-hour drive. Read more in the Palm Beach Post.
On a related topic, Brian Costa in the Journal nearly watched eight different Cactus League games in Arizona in the time it took the Mets to drive from Port St. Lucie to Lakeland to face the Detroit Tigers.
• Ruben Tejada tells Dan Martin in the Post he does not pay attention to any chatter about free-agent Stephen Drew. Columnist John Harper in the Daily News writes that the Mets continue to scout Seattle’s Nick Franklin and “are continuing to monitor the Diamondbacks’ shortstop competition and ‘could jump in’ to try to make a trade for either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings before spring training ends.”
• Read updates on Murphy, Davis and Duda in the Post.
• AC Milan will play Olympiakos in a soccer match at Citi Field on July 24.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report revisits five questions heading into spring training.
BIRTHDAYS: Darryl Strawberry, who slugged a franchise-record 252 homers as a Met, turns 52. Watch out Straw: David Wright enters 2014 with 222 career homers.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Getty ImagesLike the Mariners, the Diamondbacks have two MLB-ready shortstops: Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius.
Will Arizona trade either Chris Owings or Didi Gregorius during spring training?
"It's been pretty quiet of late," Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told Nick Piecoro in the Arizona Republic. "With Stephen Drew still out there right now, I haven't had much trade discussions."
The industry scuttlebutt is that Towers would drive a hard bargain with the Mets because of a less-than-harmonious experience working for Sandy Alderson with the San Diego Padres.
"For us, it would have to be the right deal," Towers told Piecoro about the possibility of trading a shortstop. "Our biggest needs in our system are catching -- if it's the right, top-notch catching prospect, someone we could have right behind Miggy [Miguel Montero]. More of an upper-level guy. Maybe a top, upper-end starter. We have a lot of bullpen depth, infielders. Maybe an outfielder, but probably more catching and Double-A, Triple-A type starter."
Owings, 22, hit .291 with five RBIs in 55 at-bats last season after making his major league debut Sept. 3.
Gregorius, 24, hit .252 with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 357 at-bats in 2013. He was acquired by the D-backs from the Cincinnati Reds on Dec. 11, 2012 in a three-team deal that included the Cleveland Indians sending Shin-Soo Choo to Cincy.