New York Mets: Chuck James

Schwinden reclaimed by Mets

July, 5, 2012
Chris Schwinden's winding road has taken him back to where he began.

Five weeks after the Mets lost Schwinden off waivers to Toronto, he was reclaimed by the Mets off waivers. He also made intermediate stops with the Indians and Yankees. That's four waiver claims in a month.

Schwinden has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.

The Mets reclaimed Schwinden off waivers from the Yankees on Thursday. A 40-man roster spot opened with left-hander Justin Hampson being designated for assignment Wednesday.

Schwinden made a combined five Triple-A starts for Las Vegas (Toronto), Columbus (Cleveland) and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees).

• The Mets have released left-hander Chuck James from Triple-A Buffalo, the southpaw tweeted.

Matt Harvey has joined Twitter -- @MattHarvey43

Around the minors 5.31.12

May, 31, 2012
COLUMBUS 3, BUFFALO 0: Chris Young tossed six scoreless innings, allowing two hits while tossing 87 pitches. Despite Young's efforts, the Bisons bullpen faltered and the Herd fell short of a series sweep. Thursday's game concluded a record 16-game homestand. After posting a 3.18 ERA in three starts for Class A St. Lucie, Young faced a higher-caliber opponent with Buffalo. After Young's departure, left-hander Chuck James had a 7 2/3-inning scoreless streak end. James surrendered a homer to Beau Mills, the first batter he faced. He allowed two more hits before being relieved by Pedro Beato. Columbus added two more runs in the inning. Reliever Jeff Stevens pitched the ninth and allowed no runs, extending his scoreless streak to six innings. Valentino Pascucci extended his International League-high on-base streak to 25 straight games courtesy of a first-inning walk. Box

BINGHAMTON 8, AKRON 1: Zack Wheeler allowed one run and struck out eight over seven innings. Wheeler faced three over the minimum to earn his fifth straight win. Wheeler again got serious offensive support. After going down in order in the first against starter Jonathan Pettibone, the B-Mets offense came alive in the second. Eric Campbell singled and Juan Lagares doubled. Juan Centeno chased both home with a double. Pedro Zapata added an RBI single and scored later in the inning on a fielding error by first baseman Steven Lerud. The B-Mets tacked on a run with a sac fly by Juan Lagares in the third and posted another crooked number in the fourth. Zapata tripled and Wheeler walked to set the table for Josh Rodriguez. The shortstop launched a 1-2 pitch from Pettibone into the left-field seats for his fourth homer of the season, giving the B-Mets an 8-0 lead. The run support was plenty for Wheeler. The righty retired the first nine R-Phils he faced before allowing a single to Miguel Abreu in the fourth. Wheeler shook off the hit and sat down 10 consecutive as he breezed into the seventh. His only blemish came in his final inning when he allowed back-to-back doubles to Darin Ruf and Brandon Tripp. Wheeler (5-2) did not issue a walk for the second time this season. He finished one shy of his season high for strikeouts. Over his last five starts, the B-Mets offense has supplied nearly nine runs per game. Robert Carson added two scoreless relief innings. Box

ST. LUCIE 8, PALM BEACH 3: Starter Yohan Almonte tossed five scoreless innings. Alonzo Harris Jr. went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, two runs scored, a walk and two extra-base hits. Blake Forsythe also drove in three runs. Box

GREENSBORO 2, SAVANNAH 0: Starter Michael Fulmer allowed one run on four hits and two walks in five innings. Randy Fontanez contributed three no-hit relief innings. The Gnats mustered four hits -- two by T.J. Rivera. Box

Compiled from team reports

Around the minors 5.29.12

May, 30, 2012
BUFFALO 3, COLUMBUS 1: In a 1-all tie in the eighth, Matt Tuiasosopo's line drive dropped for a hit, scoring Fred Lewis. Bisons starter Matt Harvey allowed one run and three hits in six innings. Although Harvey struggled with his command at points, issuing four walks, including two consecutive in the second inning, the right-hander made enough quality pitches to hold the Columbus in check. "In the second inning when he walked the Nos. 7- and 8-hole hitters, he just lost his rhythm a bit," manager Wally Backman said. "And then he seemed to fight through it and get better." Chuck James, rehabbing Pedro Beato and Fernando Cabrera combined to pitch three scoreless relief innings. In the eighth, Jason Donald singled and advanced to second on a balk charged to Beato with none out. But Beato induced a groundout by Chad Huffman. After intentionally walking Matt LaPorta, Beato had back-to-back strikeouts. "He had the balk, battled through the last two hitters," Backman said. "He threw the ball a lot better, located his fastball well on the outer half of the plate. He threw some good sliders, too." Josh Thole is due to serve as DH for Buffalo (30-22) on Wednesday and catch Chris Young on Thursday before the catcher is activated from the DL. Box

BINGHAMTON at READING (ppd): Miguel Batista's rehab start was rained out, pushing his outing until Wednesday. Zack Wheeler also will be delayed a day. He now will pitch Thursday.

ST. LUCIE 9, PALM BEACH 1: Starter Cory Mazzoni improved to 4-0 by limiting Palm Beach to one run and three hits in seven innings. Wilmer Flores and Cory Vaughn both had three hits and three RBIs, with Flores contributing a homer. Darrell Ceciliani went 3-for-5 with an RBI. Box

SAVANNAH 12, GREENVILLE 2: T.J. Rivera homered while going 4-for-6 with four RBIs. Charley Thurber and Travis Taijeron each contributed three-run homers. Starter Domingo Tapia allowed one run despite surrendering seven hits and three walks in four innings. Box

Compiled from team reports

Around the minors 5.20.12

May, 20, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS 4, BUFFALO 1: The Herd, which had a four-game winning streak snapped, scored its lone run against Rick VandenHurk in the first inning, when Corey Wimberly successfully had a delayed straight steal of home with Valentino Pascucci batting. "I basically told Corey, 'If you think you can steal home, go for it,'" manager Wally Backman said. "It was a success due to the position of the third baseman." It is the first time a Bison has stolen home since Chris Clapinski on May 16, 2004 at Columbus. Said Wimberley: "I told Wally if the pitcher lobs the ball back, I'm going home. I caught them sleeping, so I went for it." Jack Egbert, who started in place of Jeremy Hefner, who was called up to the Mets, allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits in two innings. In relief of Egbert, Chuck James tossed three scoreless innings. Backman was ejected in the third inning for arguing a caught stealing call by the third base umpire. The Bisons activated reliever Jeff Stevens and welcomed Edgar Ramirez to the club's roster. In his first Triple-A action since 2009, Ramirez allowed two runs (one earned) in three innings. Chris Schwinden was recalled by the Mets. Infielder Michael Fisher was demoted to Double-A Binghamton. Box

BINGHAMTON 11, PORTLAND 7: The B-Mets collected 12 hits and scored in all but one inning. The rubber-game victory secured Binghamton’s third straight series win and kicked their record above .500 for the first time in May. Binghamton grabbed the lead three batters into the game against Sea Dogs starter Chris Balcom-Miller. Matt den Dekker extended his hitting streak to a career-best 15 games with an infield single. After advancing to second on a throwing error by third baseman Kolbrin Vitek, the first of four errors for Portland, den Dekker moved to third on a sac bunt and scored on Reese Havens’ groundout. The B-Mets added two runs in the second, when Juan Lagares scored on a wild pitch and Pedro Zapata supplied a sac fly. Raul Reyes lashed an RBI double in the third and den Dekker drove in a run with a single in the fourth, Balcom-Miller’s final inning. The righty was tagged for five runs (three earned) on four hits and walked five in four innings. Binghamton kept the offense rolling against reliever Jeremy Kehrt. Lagares ripped an RBI double in the fifth and Sean Kazmar drove in two with a double in the sixth. Kazmar scored later in the three-run inning on a fielding error by Reynaldo Rodriguez at first. The frame gave Binghamton a 9-2 lead. Portland's Jeremy Hazelbaker got the Sea Dogs on the board in third with a solo homer against starter Greg Peavey and Derrik Gibson added a sac fly in the fourth. Down by seven in the sixth, Portland chased Peavey by getting the first four to reach safely. Ronald Bermudez’s RBI single with the bases loaded ended Peavey’s day. The righty allowed three runs on eight hits over five innings. With the bases loaded and no outs, Kevin Mulvey entered and induced Gibson to bounce back to the mound, starting a double play. Heiker Meneses struck out to end the threat. The seventh was not as smooth for Mulvey. He walked one and hit a batter before serving up a three-run homer to Rodriguez, cutting Binghamton’s lead to three. Jeff Kaplan took over and allowed the first four he faced to reach safely. Gibson ripped an RBI single to center with the bases loaded to make it 9-7. However, Kaplan retired the next two batters to end the inning. He posted a perfect eighth. The B-Mets added runs in the eighth and ninth, highlighted by Jefry Marte's solo homer. Adrian Rosario navigated around two walks to post a scoreless ninth. Peavey (3-1) snapped a five-start winless streak. Box

LAKELAND 2, ST. LUCIE 1: Ryan Fraser allowed two runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings of relief to get tagged with the loss. Starter Angel Cuan limited Lakeland to one hit and two walks while striking out three in 6 1/3 scoreless innings. St. Lucie mustered three hits. The lone run came in the sixth when Cory Vaughn, Richard Lucas and Blake Forsythe all walked, and Vaughn scored on a subsequent Lakeland error. Box

SAVANNAH 5, AUGUSTA 3: Savannah had a comfortable 5-0 lead heading to the ninth, but the GreenJackets scored three times and had the tying run at second with two outs when reliever T.J. Chism induced a comebacker to end the game. The Gnats lost the first two games of the series, each by one run, while stranding the tying run at second. On Sunday, Savannah scored the game’s opening run in the second. Dustin Lawley walked and scored on Brian Harrison’s RBI double over the head of center fielder Carlos Willoughby. Savannah added two runs apiece in the sixth and seventh innings. Lawley began the sixth by lining a homer just to the right side of the batter’s eye. Travis Taijeron followed with a triple up the right-center gap and came home on Aderlin Rodriguez’s hustle double on a pop fly into shallow center to put the Gnats up 3-0. T.J. Rivera added a two-run homer in the seventh. In the ninth, making his first Savannah appearance, reliever Randy Fontanez walked two batters and hit one to load the bases. A sacrifice fly trimmed the Gnats’ lead to 5-1. A single reloaded the bases and chased Fontanez. With the tying run at the plate, Chism struck out pinch-hitter Kelby Tomlinson. However, Willoughby dumped a double down the left-field line to drive in two. He raced to second as the tying run. Chism then induced a chopper back to the mound to end the threat and game. Gnats starter Rafael Montero allowed one infield hit in six innings. He faced one over the minimum through five innings. Box

Compiled from team reports
Adam Kolarek’s numbers speak for themselves: In 16 2/3 relief innings with Class A St. Lucie, the southpaw has yet to allow a run. He has struck out 25 and walked two. He has four saves. And lefty batters are hitting only .130 against the 11th-round pick in 2010 out of the University of Maryland.

He’s one of many reasons why St. Lucie is off to a 25-7 start this season.

Courtesy of New York Mets
Adam Kolarek

“I think we’re a very fundamentally sound team -- moving runners, getting the runner in, playing strong defense -- and then both our starters and relievers have really put together a strong start to the season,” Kolarek said.

As for his striking-throwing ability, which starts with fastball command, Kolarek added: “I wouldn’t say I’ve always had the best control, but it’s definitely something I’ve been working on. I really started seeing a lot better control last year. And I worked on it again in the offseason. And so far this season I’ve had pretty good results. It’s right where I want to be.”

Kolarek, 23, had solid tutoring from a young age. His father Frank, who also played at the University of Maryland, caught in the minors for the Oakland Athletics in the late 1970s. He reached as high as Triple-A Ogden in ’79, and played alongside Rickey Henderson at multiple levels of the minors.

“He was a catcher, so he taught a lot to me about how to pitch batters,” Kolarek said. “I talk to him after every outing and we go over the hitters. … He’s definitely my go-to guy. I did it in college too. It’s nothing new. We just go over the outing. He can only hear so much when he’s listening on the radio or following online, so I fill in the story and go over things.”

Kolarek and Adrian Rosario both have accumulated saves for St. Lucie this season. Five of Kolarek’s 14 appearances have been two innings. Kolarek primarily worked as a reliever in college as well. This season, the slider has been a good out pitch, particularly against lefties, in inducing groundballs. His fastball sits at 90-92 mph. He also has a changeup, which he uses more against righty batters.

“We’ve all kind of been in different situations, whether it’s coming in for that certain matchup, or coming in for an inning or two at a time,” Kolarek said. “Being able to be versatile in any kind of relieving role is important.”

Kolarek’s college highlight actually came at the plate, not on the mound. After entering as a defensive replacement at first base against a ranked North Carolina team on April 2, 2010, Kolarek launched a two-out, walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th. Matt Harvey had tossed the first six innings of that game for the Tar Heels.

“I had some good moments on the mound, but the overall college moment, definitely that home run was something I’ll always remember,” he said.

Organization leaders

Average: T.J. Rivera, Savannah, .358; Bobby Scales, Buffalo, .350; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, .330; Vinny Rottino, Buffalo, .317; Jefry Marte, Binghamton, .315; Zach Lutz, Buffalo, .315; Travis Taijeron, Savannah, .314; Omar Quintanilla, Buffalo, .301; Oswaldo Navarro, Buffalo, .293; Eric Campbell, Binghamton, .286.

Homers: Cory Vaughn, St. Lucie, 8; Travis Taijeron, Savannah, 7; Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 6; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 5; Omar Quintanilla, Buffalo, 5.

RBI: Travis Taijeron, Savannah, 23; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 22; Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 21; Cory Vaughn, St. Lucie, 19; Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 18.

Steals: Luis Nieves, Savannah, 9; Cesar Puello, St. Lucie, 7.

ERA: Alex Panteliodis, Savannah, 0.89; Jeremy Hefner, Buffalo, 1.64; Tyler Pill, Savannah, 1.65; Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 1.75; Mark Cohoon, Binghamton, 2.06; Darin Gorski, Binghamton, 2.27; Chris Schwinden, Buffalo, 2.33; Chase Huchingson, St. Lucie, 2.51; Collin McHugh, Binghamton, 2.62; Dylan Owen, Buffalo, 2.96.

Wins: Chase Huchingson, St. Lucie, 4; Collin McHugh, Binghamton, 4.

Saves: Adrian Rosario, St. Lucie, 8; Fernando Cabrera, Buffalo, 8; Adam Kolarek, St. Lucie, 4.

Strikeouts: Matt Harvey, Buffalo, 32; Collin McHugh, Binghamton, 31; Gonzalez Germen, Binghamton, 30; Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 30; Jeurys Familia, Buffalo, 29.

Short hops

• After tossing six scoreless innings against Gwinnett (Atlanta Braves) on Tuesday night, Harvey is 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA in his past four starts. Three of the outings have been scoreless. The lone non-win came against Syracuse last Wednesday, when a 23-minute rain delay forced Harvey to depart after four innings. A new organization policy mandates starting pitchers be pulled following a rain delay of any length if they already have logged two innings.

Jack Voigt, the Mets’ highly regarded minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator, will serve as hitting coach for Magallanes in Venezuela during the next winter league season. Carlos Garcia, who manages Class A Bradenton in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, will serve as that winter league club’s 2012-13 manager. Ex-Yankee Luis Sojo is the bench coach.

Zack Wheeler (1-2, 1.75 ERA) should reenter the rotation later this week with Binghamton after landing on the seven-day DL with a partially torn fingernail. Wheeler threw a bullpen session Monday and reported no difficulty. He had the issue on the middle finger of his pitching hand with San Francisco in May 2010 as well -- with a growth underneath the nail pushing it off. That time, with the Giants officials being cautious, Wheeler was out of action for seven weeks.

With Wheeler temporarily inactive, 24-year-old right-hander Gonzalez Germen was promoted to Binghamton from Class A St. Lucie, where he had been 3-0 with a 3.04 ERA in five appearances (four starts). Germen, signed in October 2007 out of the Dominican Republic, made a deceptively solid Double-A debut Friday against Harrisburg. Although he was charged with five runs in six innings, he struck out nine and walked none and the damage was limited to a five-run second inning. Germen is likely to remain with Binghamton even with Wheeler’s return, although Mets brass was sorting out how to juggle the rotation given a rainout Monday and the extra starter. Germen’s fastball sits in the low 90s. He has a solid, deceptive changeup in which the bottom falls out.

Jacob deGrom’s first official minor league game since July 26, 2010 nearly was perfect. The 23-year-old right-hander returned from Tommy John surgery to retire 20 of the 21 batters he faced with Savannah on Monday. DeGrom suffered the elbow injury and subsequent surgery shortly after signing with the Mets as their ninth-round pick in 2010 out of Stetson University. He primarily played shortstop in college, but was drafted as a pitcher because scout Steve Nichols saw potential in his arm.

Andy Pettitte’s convenience became an inconvenience for Triple-A Buffalo.

(Read full post)

Around the minors 5.1.12

May, 1, 2012
SYRACUSE 8, BUFFALO 0: Zach Duke pitched Syracuse passed Buffalo, snapping the Bisons' four-game winning streak. Duke, the former National League All-Star while with Pittsburgh, held the Herd to three hits over a season-high seven innings. The southpaw struck out five Bisons and didn't allow a hit in eight chances with runners in scoring position. His Chief teammates, meanwhile, got plenty of big hits. Right fielder Brett Carroll opened the scoring with a solo homer to lead off the fourth inning against Garrett Olson. Corey Brown added two more in the fourth with a double. Syracuse increased its lead to 5-0 in the sixth inning on an RBI single from Jarrett Hoffpauir and a sac fly from Mark Teahan. Former Bisons outfielder Jason Michaels added a two-run double in the eighth against left-hander Josh Edgin. Chuck James pitched two innings of scoreless relief. He has allowed one run in nine appearances this year. Valentino Pascucci went 0-for-4 and saw his Bisons-best 13-game hitting streak end. Vinny Rottino had one of Buffalo's four hits. His hitting streak now reached 12 games. Fred Lewis made his Bisons debut, going 0-for-4 while manning center field. The Bisons will look to even the series Wednesday with Matt Harvey on the mound. Box

AKRON 6, BINGAMTON 5 (10 innings): Chun Chen came off the bench for the Aeros and supplied three hits, including a walk-off single in the 10th, as the B-Mets could not hold a three-run lead and Elvin Ramirez was charged with a blown save and loss. After Binghamton jumped to a 5-2 lead in the seventh, the Aeros put up two in the bottom half against Kevin Mulvey and handed Ramirez his first blown save with a run in the ninth. Chen ripped the game-winning hit to right against Jeff Kaplan to give the Aeros their league-leading ninth one-run win. For the second night in a row, the B-Mets got on the board first. In his Double-A debut, Akron starter T.J. House hit his first batter. After the hit batsman, a single and a fielder’s choice, Jefry Marte singled to give Binghamton the lead. Rylan Sandoval doubled in the second and scored on a single from Matt den Dekker. After two bumpy innings, House settled in to blank the B-Mets for four consecutive innings. He retired 12 straight B-Mets before walking Eric Campbell to start the seventh. Akron tied the score with two runs in the fourth against B-Mets starter Greg Peavey. After allowing two singles and a fielder’s choice, Peavey surrendered his first run by uncorking a wild pitch. Ben Copeland tied the game with a double. The B-Mets got the lead back with a three-run seventh. A walk and fielding error from Kyle Bellows at third ended the night for House. Bryan Price entered and loaded the bases with a walk to Sandoval. Kai Gronauer and Pedro Zapata provided consecutive run-scoring singles before Oswaldo Navarro supplied a sac fly. After two rocky outings, Peavey turned in a strong performance. The righty allowed two runs on six hits and struck out four over six innings. Akron responded against Mulvey. Ryan Rohlinger ripped a solo homer to start the inning. Bellows walked and was quickly chased home by Chen’s pinch-hit double. Robert Carson relieved Mulvey and recorded two outs to preserve the lead. The Aeros nearly broke through in the eighth. They loaded the bases with no outs, but failed to get the timely hit. After Carson got two straight outs, Ramirez entered and induced Bellows to fly out to end the inning. Akron finally tied it in the ninth. Chen started the rally with a single, advanced to second on a walk to Tim Fedroff and scored on Juan Diaz’s single. In the 10th, the B-Mets were kept in check by Mason Radeke, making his Double-A debut. In the bottom of the 10th, Ramirez walked Rohlinger and gave up a single to Bellows to set the table to Chen. Kaplan entered and watched Chen lace his second pitch into right to give Akron the walk-off win. The teams continue their four-game series Wednesday as left-handers Mark Cohoon and Giovanni Soto face off. Box

ST. LUCIE 15, JUPITER 6: St. Lucie exploded for a nine-run second inning while winning its sixth straight game. D.J. Carrasco -- working a second straight day, a prerequisite to be activated from the DL -- retired the side in order in the seventh with two strikeouts. The Mets hit five homers and pounded out 19 hits to improve to 21-4. Richard Lucas opened the Mets' scoring in the second with a two-run homer. Robbie Shields drilled a three-run shot to give the Mets a 5-1 lead. Cesar Puello extended the lead with an RBI single. The Mets batted around in the second and Lucas also ripped a two-run single in the frame. Wilfredo Tovar hit a leadoff homer in the third to make it 10-1. Cory Vaughn and Wilmer Flores hit back-to-back homers in the fifth for a 12-3 lead. Vaughn also had an RBI groundout in the seventh and delivered a two-run double to left in the eighth. Yohan Almonte allowed six runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings with three walks and three strikeouts and picked up his second victory. Ryan Fraser induced an inning-ending double play in the sixth inning after Jupiter loaded the bases and scored three times. Hamilton Bennett tossed two scoreless innings and allowed two hits with one strikeout. Vaughn had three hits with two runs scored and four RBIs. Lucas went 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Flores went 4-for-6 with two runs and an RBI. Danny Muno and Puello each had three hits, while Tovar had two hits and three runs scored. Erik Goeddel starts for St. Lucie on Wednesday. Box

Compiled from team reports

Around the minors 4.27.12

April, 27, 2012
BUFFALO 7, ROCHESTER 3: Lucas May hit a three-run homer and the bullpen worked six solid innings as the Herd (12-10) began an eight-game homestand with a victory. Valentino Pascucci added two RBIs, on a single that extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Rochester couldn't take advantage of control issues from Bisons starter Jeurys Familia. Familia walked a season-high seven batters in three-innings plus, but the Bisons found themselves down only 1-0 in the bottom of the third. Andres Torres, in his first of two games with Buffalo to complete a rehab assignment, played all nine innings in center field and went 0-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Bobby Scales tied the score when he doubled in May in the third. Pascucci added a two-run single that frame. An inning later, May busted the game open with a laser three-run homer to left field. It was May's second home run in two games and third of the season. The Bisons' pen took over from there. Jack Egbert (1-2) earned the win with three scoreless innings. Chuck James worked the seventh, and Justin Hampson pitched the final two frames for his second save. Omar Quintanilla added a solo homer in the eighth. Wings starter Samuel Deduno left the game after six pitches -- all balls -- with an apparent injury. James allowed a run for the first time this season. The southpaw had made seven scoreless appearances to begin the season. Box

BINGHAMTON 3, ERIE 1: Rylan Sandoval launched a solo homer and the B-Mets took advantage of six walks in a comeback win. Mark Cohoon allowed one run over six innings to earn his second straight win. For the SeaWolves in the third, Brent Dlugach led off with a single. Michael Rockett replaced him at first on a fielder’s choice. He moved to second on a groundout and scored on Niuman Romero’s single. Juan Lagares’ throw from right field was in time, but catcher Juan Centeno could not hold the ball, allowing Rockett to score. Sandoval came through for Binghamton in the fifth. The DH ripped a 3-1 pitch from starter Kelvin De La Cruz for his first homer this season. Of Sandoval’s six hits with the B-Mets, four have been run-scoring extra-base hits. Lagares used his arm to keep the score tied in the fifth. Brent Dlugach led off the inning by walking and advanced to second on a groundout. With two outs, he attempted to score on Romero’s single, but was gunned down by Lagares. Binghamton took the lead without the aid of a hit in the seventh. De La Cruz issued walks to Centeno and Joe Bonfe. Reliever Jared Gayhart entered and walked Sandoval to load the bases. Gayhart then issued a free pass Pedro Zapata to force in a run. Cohoon (2-2) allowed just one run on four hits over six innings. Although he walked a season-high four, he fanned three and stranded five runners on base. Binghamton tacked on a run in the eighth off reliever Ryan Robowski. Josh Rodriguez started the frame with a walk, moved to second on Jefry Marte’s single, and advanced to third on a throwing error by Rockett in right field. The error proved crucial when Rodriguez scored on Centeno’s sac fly. Robert Carson took over for Cohoon and put up two scoreless innings. The lefty was optioned back to Binghamton on Thursday after spending three days with the Mets. Elvin Ramirez posted a perfect ninth inning to collect his first save. The B-Mets (11-9) continue their three-game series against the Sea Wolves on Saturday. Right-hander Collin McHugh opposes right-hander James Avery. Box

ST. LUCIE 3, JUPITER 2 (10 innings): Cory Vaughn's solo homer with two out in the top of the 10th lifted St. Lucie to the win. The Mets had forced extra innings on Blake Forsythe's one-out single in the ninth, which scored Richard Lucas. John Church, Hamilton Bennett (1-0) and Adrian Rosario (fourth save) combined for 4 2/3 scoreless relief innings. Wilmer Flores contributed his 17th RBI. Box

SAVANNAH 6, WEST VIRGINIA 2: Gregory Pron and T.J. Rivera had two hits and two RBIs apiece, with Pron producing a pair of doubles. Travis Taijeron had opened the scoring with a second-inning solo homer. Tyler Pill limited West Virginia to two runs in six innings. Estarlin Morel, T.J. Chism and Jared West each contributed a scoreless, no-hit relief inning. Box

Compiled from team reports

Farm report: Elvin back after DC diversion

April, 25, 2012
Right-hander Elvin Ramirez had opened eyes during the 2010-11 winter-ball season in his native Dominican Republic while compiling a 1.85 ERA for Gigantes del Cibao in 20 relief appearances.

So during the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings that December, while the Mets were selecting Pedro Beato from the Orioles and Brad Emaus from the Blue Jays, the Nationals were grabbing Ramirez from the Mets.

Courtesy of New York Mets
Elvin Ramirez

Ramirez, now 24, never did pitch while spending nearly a full year with the Nationals. He had developed a shoulder issue while wowing in winter ball that ultimately led to late-March 2011 shoulder surgery while temporarily Washington property.

The Nats eventually returned him to the Mets in mid-October. They could have carried him into this season with the Rule 5 provisions still in place, but chose to no longer tie up the 40-man roster spot.

So now, after a full season away from the organization, which he primarily spent rehabbing at the Nationals’ spring-training complex in Viera, Fla., Ramirez is back with the Mets and again opening eyes.

“I was in-between,” said Ramirez, who spent plenty of time with Washington pitcher and fellow Dominican Atahaulpa Severino during the lost season at the Nats’ complex. “I was hurt, so I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was waiting for whatever was going to happen.”

So far this season, Ramirez has tossed 8 1/3 scoreless innings over five relief appearances for Double-A Binghamton. He has struck out a gaudy 15 Eastern League batters while surrendering three hits and five walks.

Ramirez’s velocity sat at 93-94 mph in a recent outing, still shy of the 94-96 mph he tossed pre-shoulder issue. But the results speak for themselves. And the velocity has been creeping upward since Ramirez’s first B-Mets outing, on April 6.

“One of the things I heard when he got Rule 5’d by the Nationals was that winter he was throwing extremely hard,” B-Mets manager Pedro Lopez said. “His fastball was up to 99, 98 mph. After the injury he suffered -- he sat out last year -- the velocity is coming back slowly. I think in spring training he was throwing 90, 92. There’s been a couple of times here where he’s topped out at 96. Some of the pitching coaches that have seen him in the past say he looks healthy, and they think his fastball is going to come back again.

“But it’s been impressive right now. He throws a fastball, slider and changeup. Right now they’re pretty good. The thing I remember of Elvin from Savannah in 2008, he had the makings of a good changeup. Now he’s got a really good changeup. And he throws it to right-handed hitters. I think that makes him real effective.”

Organization leaders

Average: T.J. Rivera, Savannah, .406; Bobby Scales, Buffalo, .377; Josh Rodriguez, Binghamton, .365; Jefry Marte, Binghamton, .356; Zach Lutz, Buffalo, .333; Wilfredo Tovar, St. Lucie, .321; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, .316; Vinny Rottino, Buffalo, .315; Danny Muno, St. Lucie, .294; Cory Vaughn, St. Lucie, .291.

Homers: Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 6.

RBI: Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 15; Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 15; Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 14; Danny Muno, St. Lucie, 12.

Steals: Danny Muno, St. Lucie, 4; Luis Nieves, Savannah, 4; Josh Rodriguez, Binghamton, 4.

ERA: Darin Gorski, Binghamton, 1.13; Chase Huchingson, St. Lucie, 1.23; Collin McHugh, Bighamton, 1.59; Tyler Pill, Savannah, 1.76; Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 1.80; Jeremy Hefner, Buffalo, 1.96; Rafael Montero, Savannah, 1.99; Chris Schwinden, Buffalo, 2.05; Mark Cohoon, Binghamton, 2.05; Domingo Tapia, Savannah, 2.55.

Wins: Chase Huchingson, St. Lucie, 3; Collin McHugh, Binghamton, 3.

Saves: Fernando Cabrera, Buffalo, 4; Adam Kolarek, St. Lucie, 3; Josh Edgin, Buffalo, 2; Jeffrey Kaplan, St. Lucie, 2; Adrian Rosario, St. Lucie, 2.

Strikeouts: Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 24; Jeurys Familia, Buffalo, 23; Collin McHugh, Binghamton, 22; Domingo Tapia, Savannah, 20.

Short hops

Sean Ratliff, who was struck in the eye with a foul ball during spring training in 2011 off the bat of Zach Lutz, has retired. Ratliff, a fourth-round pick in 2008 out of Stanford, plans to head back to school to complete his education. He underwent four surgeries last year and attempted a comeback this season with Class A St. Lucie. But the outfielder was 3-for-22 with 10 strikeouts and could not overcome the vision deficiencies.

• Left-handed reliever Daniel Herrera is due to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. The injury helped fuel the promotion of fellow lefty Josh Edgin from Binghamton to Buffalo.

Edgin, 25, impressed in spring training and officially was added to major league camp after starting on the minor league side. He struck out three in 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his Triple-A debut Monday at Lehigh Valley. Edgin will be exposed to different types of situations with the Bisons to ready him for the majors -- from save opportunities, to entering mid-inning for lefty-on-lefty matchups, to working two-inning appearances. The Lehigh Valley in-stadium gun, which may be slightly slow, clocked Edgin’s fastball at 92 mph in his Buffalo debut. He also showed a tight slider.

The Mets actually have two viable lefty relief options with the Bisons. Chuck James has tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, albeit with five walks.

So why was left-hander Robert Carson the one promoted to the majors Tuesday after Mike Pelfrey was placed on the DL? Well, he’s the one on the 40-man roster. And the call-up is only intended for the Marlins series, after which Carson is expected to be replaced by presumed Friday starter Chris Schwinden.

• Outfielder Dustin Martin made his Triple-A Buffalo debut Tuesday night. Martin, originally a 26th-round pick by the Mets in 2006 out of Sam Houston State, was sent to the Twins with Drew Butera when the Mets originally acquired Luis Castillo. Martin was released by Minnesota at the end of spring training in March. He hit .265 with 15 homers and 69 RBIs in 490 at-bats last season with Triple-A Rochester.

Matt Harvey possessed the best curveball of any of his Triple-A starts while limiting Syracuse to three runs on four hits and three walks in six innings Friday. Harvey, who notched his first Triple-A win, struck out Nationals phenom Bryce Harper twice and also walked him in three plate appearances.

Harper got vengeance on fellow prospect Jeurys Familia the following day, though. After Familia had retired nine straight Syracuse batters, Harper launched his first Triple-A homer. Familia nonetheless was efficient in the outing while striking out eight in a 93-pitch effort over five innings. Harper’s solo homer was the lone run allowed by Familia.

• Bisons right fielder Adam Loewen has been sidelined since being pulled from Friday’s game. He is wearing a boot on his right foot. The injury happened early in the season and had been nagging Loewen. The half-inning before he departed, Loewen felt discomfort tracking a ball in the right-center gap. The next half-inning, while being thrown out by Harper on a play at the plate, manager Wally Backman noticed Loewen had difficulty accelerating. Loewen, who was beaten out by Mike Baxter for the lefty-hitting backup outfield job with the Mets, was hitting .270 with three homers in 37 at-bats with the Bisons.

Dylan Owen, during a spot start Monday while Jeremy Hefner had a major league cameo, not only tossed 4 2/3 effective innings, he became the first Buffalo pitched in 18 years to homer.

Valentino Pascucci has a nine-game hitting streak and Vinny Rottino has a seven-game hitting streak with the Bisons.

Mike Nickeas is 1-for-14 this season for the Mets. And if the Mets dip to the minors to make a change at some point for Josh Thole’s complement, ex-Mariner/Padre Rob Johnson might be the alternative. Still, Johnson is hitting only .214 through 42 at-bats with the Bisons. And fellow Triple-A catcher Lucas May is hitting only .139. The Mets could scour the waiver wire, too. But with catching at a premium in MLB, it may be doubtful something attractive becomes available.

• Middle infielder Josh Rodriguez, a late spring-training pickup by the Mets after his release from the Pittsburgh Pirates, has been named the Double-A Eastern League Player of the Week. Rodriguez, 27, was the first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft in December 2010 that also involved Ramirez, Beato and Emaus. He appeared in seven games for the Pirates last season. Rodriguez is hitting .365 with two homers and 10 RBIs for the B-Mets. His signing was influenced by Paul DePodesta, and with a promise of a potentially quick move to Triple-A. Rodriguez’s action at shortstop should increase with teammate Sean Kazmar landing on Binghamton’s DL with an oblique injury.

• First baseman Allan Dykstra, who arrived at the end of spring training in 2011 from the Padres in a swap for reliever Eddie Kunz, headed home to California for five weeks after fracturing his left forearm reaching for a throw from pitcher Darin Gorski. Dykstra will be limited to riding a bicycle during that span. He suffered a similar injury earlier in his career with San Diego and suffered ligament damage. The bone damage is a less difficult road back. Eric Campbell is now manning first base for the B-Mets.

• The Mets released right-hander Eric Beaulac, a ninth-round pick in 2008 out of LeMoyne (N.Y.) College.

• Outfielder Darrell Ceciliani had a short-lived return to St. Lucie’s active roster. After an 11-day absence, Ceciliani injured his hamstring retreating to catch a fly ball Sunday, in his second game back. He previously had been on the DL with a right groin injury. In his six Florida State League games this season, the former New York-Penn League batting champ is hitting .346.

• Left-hander Chase Huchingson’s dominating start to the season for St. Lucie, which included a 3-0 record and 17-inning scoreless streak, abruptly came to a halt Tuesday night when he allowed two first-inning runs against Fort Myers. Still, Huchingson’s acquisition is a success story. Scout Max Semler liked Huchingson’s arm and signed him as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Central Arkansas in 2010 after spotting him playing outfield and pitching in an obscure summer league. Huchingson’s fastball sits between 90 and 92 mph.

• Right-handers Kyle Allen and Erik Goeddel made their season debuts for St. Lucie during the past week. Goeddel, a UCLA product, was treated slowly in readying for the season after dealing with shoulder issues last year that limited him to 15 games with Savannah. He allowed a solo homer to rehabbing Cardinal Allen Craig but no other damage in three innings, in the resumption of a suspended game. Goeddel now is expected to enter what should be a six-man St. Lucie rotation.

Cory Vaughn had an inside-the-park homer for St. Lucie. He has a .391 on-base percentage.

• Mets officials are very pleased with 20-year-old Wilfredo Tovar’s play at shortstop for St. Lucie. Compared with Ruben Tejada because both have solid instincts at the position, Tovar may have a better arm and hands.

• Right-hander Logan Verrett, the third-round pick last June out of Baylor, landed on the Savannah DL, but already was due to resume throwing.

• A pair of farmhands removed from the 40-man roster by the Mets and claimed by other organizations are off to strong starts. Fernando Martinez is hitting .294 with three homers for Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Astros organization. He primarily is playing left field. Right-hander Josh Stinson, claimed at the end of spring training by the Brewers, is 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA and one save at Double-A Huntsville and is now being groomed as a starter. He went a season-high 4 2/3 innings Tuesday night.

• Ex-Met Nelson Figueroa has latched on with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate.

Adam Rubin’s farm report appears Wednesdays during the regular season

Around the minors 4.14.12

April, 14, 2012
PAWTUCKET 9, BUFFALO 6: Given new life in the fifth inning, the Red Sox scored five unearned runs to hand Buffalo its third straight loss and fifth in six games. The Herd was nursing a 2-1 advantage until Pawtucket loaded the bases with walks to Alex Hassan and Daniel Nava and an intentional free pass to Ryan Lavarnway. Two batters later, Lars Anderson hit a sharp grounder that made it through Herd first baseman Zach Lutz. The error allowed two runners to score as Pawtucket regained the lead. Two pitches later, top Red Sox prospect Will Middlebrook made the miscue really hurt with a three-run homer off reliever Jeff Stevens. After the Bisons cut the PawSox lead to 6-4, Pawtucket pulled away with three seventh-inning runs. All four hits in that rally were grounders that found their way through the infield. In defeat, Bobby Scales collected four hits for Buffalo and finished a triple away from the cycle. The veteran had a two-run homer in the seventh, during a failed comeback bid. Scales now leads all International League hitters with a .567 on-base percentage. Garrett Olson, who suffered the loss, was charged with four runs (one earned) in 4 1/3 innings. The Bisons bullpen allowed five runs (three earned) in 4 2/3 innings. Prior to the game, the Bisons activated catcher Jean Luc Blaquiere. Buffalo had a roster spot as infielder Josh Satin was placed on the Mets' 24-hour taxi-squad list. New in 2012, major league teams can place minor league players on a taxi squad for 24 hours as part of consideration for a promotion. That way, minor league teams can replace that player and play their game at full strength. Chuck James threw two scoreless relief innings to increase his season total to five scoreless frames spanning four appearances. Box

PORTLAND 5, BINGHAMTON 3: The Sea Dogs took advantage of seven walks -- three in the decisive sixth inning, during which Portland scored three runs and broke a tie. B-Mets starter Darin Gorski cruised through three innings. However, the southpaw ran into trouble in the fourth. Following a leadoff walk to Juan Carlos Linares and a wild pitch, Bryce Brentz laced an RBI double. Brentz scored on Oscar Tejeda’s double, giving Portland a 2-0 lead. Binghamton answered against Portland starter Billy Buckner in the fifth. Buckner walked Josh Rodriguez and Juan Centeno singled. Sean Kazmar then lined a two-run double off the left-center wall. The B-Mets nearly cracked a half-inning later. After Heiker Meneses was hit by Gorski, Derrik Gibson pushed a bunt up the third-base line. Gorski cleanly fielded the roller, but his throw to first tailed toward the runner. Gibson ran into Allan Dykstra’s left arm and the ball rolled down the line. When the dust settled, Portland had runners at second and third, Dykstra was pulled from the game and Gorski’s day was done. The southpaw struck out five while allowing two runs over four innings in a no-decision. Kevin Mulvey entered and escaped unscathed. After recording a strikeout, he walked Linares intentionally to load the bases. The gamble paid off when Brentz flied out and Reynaldo Rodriguez grounded out to end the inning. Binghamton threatened in the top of the sixth, but failed to come through against reliever Will Latimer. The lefty allowed the first two batters to reach, and move to second and third, but Latimer battled back to strand both. Mulvey (0-1) then walked the first three batters he faced on 14 pitches to load the bases in the bottom of the sixth. Edgar Ramirez entered and allowed a two-run double to Gibson to break the tie game. In the eighth, Juan Lagares greeted Josh Fields with a double and scored on Oswaldo Navarro’s single to cut Portland’s lead to two. The B-Mets loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Fields caught Eric Campbell looking to end the game. The B-Mets (3-5) look for the series split Sunday. Greg Peavey gets the nod for Binghamton against right-hander Chris Balcom-Miller. Box

ST. LUCIE 2, PALM BEACH 1: Yohan Almonte limited Palm Beach to one run in 5 1/3 innings, while relievers Taylor Whitenton and Jeffrey Kaplan combined to strike out six and yield one hit the rest of the way. Wilmer Flores' sacrifice fly in the fifth broke a 1-all tie. Box

SAVANNAH 6, AUGUSTA 0: Domingo Tapia tossed seven scoreless innings and Marcos Camarena had two no-hit relief innings as the Gnats shut out Augusta for the second straight day. Savannah had a six-run fourth inning that included a two-run triple by T.J. Rivera as well as five walks, a passed ball and two wild pitches. Box

Compiled from team reports

Around the minors 4.11.12

April, 11, 2012
BUFFALO 12, SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE 3: Buffalo blasted four long home runs -- three in a seven-run fourth inning -- on the 25th Opening Day at Coca-Cola Field. The run total set a new modern-era record for the team's first home game of a season. Zach Lutz hit two of the homers, with both clearing the 40-foot netting in left field. His first long ball of the season led off a two-run second that gave Buffalo the lead. Lutz homered again in the fourth as the Bisons made quick work of a 3-2 deficit. Jordany Valdespin got the Bisons rolling with a two-run homer off Yankees starter Dellin Betances. After Josh Satin's RBI single, Valentino Pascucci hit a laser into the netting in left field for a 7-3 Bisons lead. Pascucci's homer was his 42nd in his Bisons career. He moves into a tie with Tom Prince and Russ Morman for ninth in the team's modern era. Betances' day was done after he walked the next batter, Vinny Rottino. Lutz then greeted Scranton/Wilkes-Barre reliever Jason Bulger with his second home run onto Oak Street. Lutz finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs. He also reached on an error and scored in the sixth. Valdespin scored from second base in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Satin. The previous record for runs scored in a home opener was 10 in a win over Pawtucket on April 3, 2003. Bisons starter Jeurys Familia (1-0) earned the win while displaying overpowering stuff. He struck out eight and allowed three runs on four hits in five innings. After he allowed a three-run homer to Dewayne Wise in the third inning, Familia retired seven of the final eight batters he faced. He struck out two batters in each inning from the second through the fifth. The trio of Justin Hampson, Chuck James and Fernando Cabrera closed out the win with four combined scoreless innings. Box

ERIE at BINGHAMTON (ppd): Postponed due to inclement weather, the game will be made up as part of a doubleheader at NYSEG Stadium on July 13 at 5:35 p. The B-Mets (2-3) now have a week-long trip, to Portland and New Hampshire. Their four-game set with the Sea Dogs begins Thursday with right-hander Collin McHugh (0-1, 3.60) opposing right-hander Brock Huntzinger (0-1, 12.00).

ST. LUCIE 6, CHARLOTTE 4: Outfielder Sean Ratliff played in his first regular-season game since 2010, before being struck in the eye with a foul ball, and third baseman Wilmer Flores drove in three runs as the Mets won their fifth straight. The Mets (5-1) swept Charlotte as starting pitcher Cory Mazzoni earned his first victory. Mazzoni allowed single runs in the first and second innings before settling down. He pitched six innings and allowed two runs and six hits with one walk and two strikeouts. The Mets trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the fourth. Flores then hit a game-tying RBI single, which scored Cory Vaughn. The Mets used a three-run sixth to jump ahead. Robbie Shields (3-for-4) doubled to open the half-inning. Flores hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly to plate Shields. After a wild pitch scored Vaughn, catcher Blake Forsythe delivered a sacrifice fly to plate Richard Lucas and extend the lead to 5-2. In the eighth, the Mets pushed across a run on a sacrifice fly by Flores. The Stone Crabs (3-3) picked up two runs in the ninth against Jeff Kaplan, who allowed four hits. Charlotte had runners at second and third with two outs before reliever Adam Kolarek earned a one-out save by striking out Derek Dietrich. Vaughn went 1-for-3 with three runs scored. Alonzo Harris Jr. finished 2-for-3. Ryan Fraser tossed two scoreless relief innings and allowed one hit. Box

SAVANNAH 10, ROME 5: Carlos Vazquez and Tyson Seng combined for four scoreless innings in relief of Logan Verrett, who was charged with five runs (three earned) on seven hits -- including two homers -- in five innings. Verrett struck out 10 and walked none. Leadoff hitter T.J. Rivera went 4-for-4 with a walk. Travis Taijeron went 3-for-5 with a homer, two RBIs and three runs scored. Cam Maron and Dustin Lawley also had two RBIs apiece. Aderlin Rodriguez drove in his 10th run of the season, but also committed his sixth error at third base. Box

Compiled from team reports

Around the minors 4.9.12

April, 9, 2012
ROCHESTER 3, BUFFALO 2: Red Wings shortstop Brian Dozier hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to give Rochester a comeback victory, snapping Buffalo's three-game winning streak. Dozier is hitting .474 to open the season. The Bisons bullpen entered the game with 14 scorelesss innings to begin the season. Protecting a 2-1 lead, lefty Chuck James made his Bisons debut with a scoreless frame in the sixth. But with two outs in the seventh, Dylan Owen (1-1) walked Tsuyoshi Nishioka on seven pitches to bring Dozier to the plate. The shortstop hit a full-count pitch from Owen into deep left field. The Bisons had just five hits in the game, with three coming in a two-run third. Zach Lutz roped a two-out RBI double to give Buffalo the lead. Matt Tuiasosopo followed with a blooper into shallow right field that fell in to score Lutz from second. Garrett Olson started for Buffalo. The southpaw allowed one run on four hits in five innings. He struck out four and received a no-decision. The last two Opening Day roster Bisons yet to get into a game played Monday night. Michael Fisher got the start at second base and was 0-for-3 at the plate. James also made his first appearance. The Bisons will wrap up their season-opening trip in Rochester on Tuesday afternoon. The club's home opener is Wednesday at 2:05 p.m. against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Box

BINGHAMTON 8, ERIE 0: The B-Mets pounded out 11 hits, including seven for extra bases, and Greg Peavey allowed one hit in his Double-A debut. Every B-Met had a hit. After Peavey retired the side in order in the first, Pedro Zapata led off the bottom half with a triple against Erie starter Ramon Garcia. Juan Lagares gave the B-Mets the early lead by launching his first homer. Lagares had two homers in 162 at-bats with Binghamton last year. Eric Campbell, celebrating his 25th birthday, then shot a double to right-center and Jefry Marte brought him home with a two-bagger. Oswaldo Navarro capped the four-run outburst with an RBI single. Peavey worked around three errors to post 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out five and issued no walks. Peavey capped his night by striking out Brandon Douglas and Tony Plagman in the sixth before Kevin Mulvey replaced him. The B-Mets added to their lead in the fifth on an opposite-field homer from Allan Dykstra, his first long ball of the season. Zach Samuels allowed three runs on two hits and three walks in the seventh. Mulvey allowed one hit and walked two over 2 1/3 scoreless frames. Armando Rodriguez tossed a scoreless ninth to secure Binghamton’s first shutout of the year. Over the last 24 innings, B-Mets pitchers have allowed one run. Peavey earned the win. The B-Mets (2-2) continue their series against the SeaWolves Tuesday night. Left-hander Mark Cohoon makes his first B-Mets start of the season, against right-hander James Avery. Box

ST. LUCIE 6, CHARLOTTE 5: Darrell Ceciliani hit a walk-off homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Ceciliani, who went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs, drilled reliever Nate Garcia’s pitch over the right-field fence. In the first, Cory Vaughn doubled down the left-field line to plate Ceciliani to make it 1-1. The Mets took the lead in the third when Ceciliani tripled, scoring Danny Muno. Trailing 3-2, the Mets responded in the home half of the fourth as Francisco Pena hit a towering drive over the left-field fence for his first homer of the season and a one-run lead. In the seventh, Vaughn ripped a solo homer. Vaughn went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Yohan Almonte started for the Mets and allowed three runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings while striking out two and walking one. Adam Kolarek pitched an 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief with two strikeouts. John Church allowed two unearned runs with a walk and two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings. Jeff Kaplan allowed one hit over 1 1/3 innings, but did allow an inherited runner to score on a game-tying single as a part of a two-run eighth inning for Charlotte. Box

SAVANNAH 1, ROME 0 (12 innings): With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th, Luis Nieves singled down the first-base line, past diving first baseman William Beckwith to score Dustin Lawley with the winning run. The Gnats (3-2) won their second game in their final turn at bat on the season-opening seven-game homestand. The pitchers were dominant for both teams. Savannah pitchers struck out 17 Braves. Starter Tyler Pill, in his Gnats debut, shut out the Braves through six innings on three hits. He struck seven and did not walk a batter. Left-hander Jack Leathersich followed Pill and whiffed six Braves in his three innings to keep the game scoreless through nine innings. Jared West earned his first career win with three scoreless relief innings. He punched out four Braves and gave up one hit and a walk. Lawley, the Gnats’ left fielder, led off the bottom of the 12th with a single. An out later, Travis Taijeron looked like he had delivered the game-winning hit when he pounded a double deep into left-center. However, the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, holding Lawley at third base. The Braves intentionally walked Albert Cordero to bring Nieves to the plate. Nieves drove home Lawley on a 1-2 pitch. The Gnats and Braves play Game 2 of their three-game series Tuesday. The Gnats are scheduled to send right-hander Michael Fulmer to the hill against Braves right-hander Rafael Briceno. Box

Compiled from team reports

Satin, 2 others sent to minors

March, 23, 2012
The Mets shipped three more players to minor league camp Friday morning -- infielders Josh Satin and Omar Quintanilla and right-hander Fernando Cabrera. Left-handed reliever Chuck James had been dispatched to the minors after Thursday's game.

There are now 37 players in major league camp.

Mets morning briefing 3.23.12

March, 23, 2012
The Mets send Jon Niese to the mound at Disney this afternoon against Atlanta left-hander Mike Minor. It will be a timely visit, since notorious Mets killer Chipper Jones announced Thursday his intention to retire after the season. Also scheduled to pitch for the Mets: Miguel Batista, Josh Edgin and Daniel Herrera.

Friday's news reports:

• Jones, an all-time nemesis, has a career .318 average, 48 homers and 154 RBIs in 812 at-bats against the Mets. David Wright was among the members of the MLB community offering praise in light of Jones' announcement. "He was kind of the model of consistency and the guy they kind of built that team around," Wright said.'s Jerry Crasnick recalls how Jones became the first overall pick by the Braves in the 1990 draft. Writes Crasnick:

Jones' legacy is special, of course, because he symbolizes something so rare these days -- the All-American kid who found a home with a franchise and never left. He grew up in Pierson, Fla., the "Fern Capital of the World," and was deemed a can't-miss prospect at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, but the Braves didn't decide to draft him first overall until high school pitcher Todd Van Poppel told them he was determined to attend the University of Texas. [Bobby] Cox, Atlanta's general manager in 1990, traveled to Jacksonville to watch Jones play. In those days, Cox told scouting director Paul Snyder to refrain from identifying which prospect they were looking at during pregame stretching, because it might color his perception from the outset. So Snyder remained silent, Cox scanned the line, and it took him about 10 seconds to pick out the phenom in question.

As for the reaction when Jones travels to New York during his farewell tour, the answer seems a no-brainer. Mets fans nearly universally respect his contribution to the rivalry. As blog commenter FireWilpon aptly wrote: "I hate him, but I'm going to miss hating him." The Braves visit Citi Field for Opening Day on April 5.

Writes Mike Puma in the Post:

“I think of the years of our battles, when the Mets became legitimate during that period of time,” [Al] Leiter said. “The excitement of when the Braves came in ... and the ‘Larry’ chants, it was kind of fun. The guy enjoyed it. Initially you thought, maybe he didn’t like it, but he named his kid Shea.” Leiter remembers facing Jones in a tight game in the 1990s at Turner Field and throwing what he thought was the perfect pitch — a changeup he didn’t often use -- only to watch Jones “flick it” for a two-run double. “I remember him sliding into second base,” Leiter said. “It was a big moment, the middle of the game, tight game, and I looked at him, ‘Are you [bleeping] kidding me? Really? You were looking for a changeup?’ And he looked at me like, ‘I don’t know.’ ”

Read more in the Journal, Daily News and Times.

• The Mets reassigned Chuck James to minor league camp after Thursday's game, leaving three left-handed relievers -- Garrett Olson, Edgin and Herrera -- in major league camp to keep Tim Byrdak's spot warm. Olson appears the frontrunner, with Edgin the most intriguing because he has not yet pitched above Class A St. Lucie. Byrdak, who underwent March 13 surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee, expects to begin tossing a baseball today and may miss no more than a week or two of the regular season. The Mets now have 39 players in major league camp.

R.A. Dickey took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning and the Mets beat the Houston Astros, 8-2, Thursday at Digital Domain Park.

• Wright took batting practice with teammates Thursday for the first time since being shut down with an abdominal tear and receiving a cortisone shot in New York. Wright said he came through the session fine. Terry Collins expects Wright will repeat that routine through the weekend and play in a game for the first time on Monday or thereabout. Read more in the Times, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Post, Record, Journal and Newsday.

• Perhaps the Mets will not need left fielder Jason Bay or middle infielder Jordany Valdespin in center field when all is said and done. Andres Torres reported that the left calf strain he suffered Tuesday does not seem severe. Meanwhile, Scott Hairston (left oblique strain) took dry swings for the first time Thursday. Hairston expected to advance to hitting in a cage Friday for the first time -- starting with flips and underhand-tossed balls. Valdespin, who had one game of experience in the outfield in his career, played the final two innings of Thursday's Grapefruit League game in center field. Collins said Valdespin should play in Friday's game in center field as well, although not as the starter there. The manager added that if the Mets' center-field situation stabilizes, with Torres and/or Hairston regaining their health, Valdespin would solely play infield at Triple-A Buffalo and not dabble in the outfield. The logic is that a part-time position change could hamper Valdespin's success at the plate by overwhelming him. Read more on Valdespin in the Record.

Matt den Dekker, already dispatched to minor league camp, was borrowed and started in center field Thursday. He's also on the trip for Friday's game against the Braves. Still, a ton of dominoes likely would have to fall for den Dekker to be an actual consideration for the Opening Day roster. He has only played a half-season at Double-A, and struck out a combined 156 times in 539 at-bats between Binghamton and Class A St. Lucie last season.

Den Dekker is a fifth-round pick in 2010 out of the University of Florida, where he attended classes with Tim Tebow, notes Anthony Rieber in Newsday. "I like Tebow, but I don't like getting caught up in so much Tebowmania," den Dekker told Rieber. "Plus, I'm a Dolphins fan, too. I was kind of hoping Peyton Manning would go to the Dolphins."

• Critic Phil Mushnick in the Post isn't impressed with Fred Wilpon and family's court settlement being labeled a victory, even though the $162 million settlement can be offset by losses from other funds, meaning the Wilpons may part with only a fraction of that amount -- and not for at least four years. Mushnick makes reference to a previous Ponzi scheme, Bayou, in which Sterling Stamos, the Wilpons' hedge fund company, became entangled years earlier, resulting in a multimillion dollar payback settlement. Writes Mushnick:

By the way, how many Ponzi schemes does one have to be part of -- sink hundreds of millions into, no questions asked -- before one confesses that his sense of big-time investing at least leans toward the too-good-to-be-true, toward the crooked? Is it three? Four? How many Ponzis does one fund before he chooses to take a shower -- before he’s forced to take a bath? A or B? A: “I gave Bernie Madoff all my money, but I don’t know how he did it; I never asked.” B: “I gave him all my money and I agreed not to ask, thus I agreed not to know.” Either way, Wilpon and Saul Katz allowed their business to become none of their business? Forgive those of us who just can’t believe that.

• Left-hander Mark Cohoon tossed five no-hit innings as Binghamton beat the Marlins' Double-A affiliate, 14-5, Thursday. Read the full minor league recap here.

Richard Sandomir in the Times notes that the value of the Mets franchise has tumbled in recent years in Forbes' calculations. The organization is now worth $719 million, according to the magazine, which previously valued the Mets at $912 million in 2009, $858 million in 2010 and $747 million last year. The Mets annually dispute Forbes' calculations.

Steven Cohen is the frontrunner to have the winning bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bill Madden reports in the Daily News. A successful acquisition would require him to sell his just-purchased $20 million share of the Mets. Of the $240 million infused into the Mets, Cohen's contribution represents 20 percent of the $100 million in "new money," according to the Times; $140 million was infused by the Wilpons as well as SNY partners Time Warner and Comcast, the newspaper reported.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger notes that many Mets pitchers use visualization -- seeing an outcome in your mind you want to happen in the future -- as a way to find success. Writes McCullough regarding Dillon Gee using the practice:

Gee experienced success with the concept as a teenager growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. One winter a friend invited him to go snowboarding. The only other time Gee had tried was disastrous. “How am I going to learn how to snowboard in Texas?” he wondered. So to avoid further embarrassment, he said, every time he took a shower he imagined himself traversing the slopes. “And I swear to God,” Gee said, “the next time I went, I wasn’t awesome, but I was 10 times better.”

TRIVIA: Who was the last Met to finish in the top five in National League MVP balloting?

Thursday's answer: Vinny Rottino represented Italy in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Valentino Pascucci also was on that team, which had Mike Piazza as a coach. Pascucci already has been dispatched to Mets minor league camp.

James reassigned, lefty battle narrows

March, 22, 2012

Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
Chuck James was sent to minor league camp after Thursday's game.

Left-handed reliever Chuck James was reassigned to minor league camp after Thursday's game against the Houston Astros, leaving three remaining southpaw relievers in camp to vie for the specialist role until Tim Byrdak returns.

Garrett Olson appears most likely to make the Opening Day roster, with prospect Josh Edgin as well as Daniel Herrera also still in camp.

James had a 7.36 ERA in five Grapefruit League appearances spanning 3 2/3 innings. He allowed six hits, walked four and hit a batter.

Byrdak, who underwent surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee March 13, plans to begin tossing a baseball Friday and could be throwing off a mound next week. He is doubtful to be ready for Opening Day, but may only miss a week or two of the regular season.

The Mets now have 39 players in major league camp.

Mets morning briefing 3.18.12

March, 18, 2012
Mike Pelfrey takes the mound as the Mets make a two-plus-hour drive to Kissimmee to take on the Houston Astros. The Mets then will have Monday off, with the complex closed until a Tuesday night game. Monday will not be quiet, however. Inside U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff's courtroom in lower Manhattan, jury selection and opening statements are expected to occur Monday in the $386 million lawsuit against Fred Wilpon and family regarding Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. The trial is scheduled to last 10 additional days.

Sunday's news reports:

Jon Niese tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings despite allowing all six leadoff batters he faced to reach. Still, the Mets lost to a split-squad Atlanta Braves team, 3-2, on Saturday at Digital Domain Park. Daniel Murphy had a two-run single for the Mets, but Chuck James and Ramon Ramirez combined to allow three eighth-inning runs. The Mets are 0-7-1 in their past eight games and have the worst record either in the Grapefruit or Cactus League. Read more in Newsday and the Daily News.

Zack Wheeler allowed an unearned run while tossing three innings for the Double-A squad in the first day of minor league exhibition games. Read the full Buffalo and Binghamton recaps here. Watch video of Wheeler facing Cardinals farmhand Raniel Rosario here. Read more on Wheeler's outing in the Daily News, Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• The Mets signed infielder Oswaldo Navarro to a minor league contract.

Anthony Destefano in Newsday previews the Madoff-related civil trial that opens Monday. Writes Destefano:

[Trustee Irving] Picard's case, Rakoff has said a number of times, is far from rock solid. The trustee has to prove that the Wilpon defendants were willfully blind and ignored warnings about Madoff. Noted white-collar defense attorney and author Stanley Arkin describes the concept of willful blindness this way: "You turn your head away from facts that cry out for inquiry and you take no steps to make inquiry." Rakoff said it will be up to the Wilpons and partners to demonstrate that they weren't willfully blind to the fraud.

Barry Meier in the Times suggests Mets fans may want the Wilpons to lose the entire $386 million at stake. Of that amount, Rakoff already has declared the trustee is entitled to the profits made in the two years before Madoff's arrest -- as much as $83 million. Writes Meier:

The proceeding took place in the people’s food court (technically, the bar and snack stands along the right-field line) at Digital Domain Park before Friday’s game, in which a Mets squad was demolished by the Detroit Tigers, 9-0. The verdict of fans polled, while not unanimous, was clear. Put simply, they would like to see Wilpon and Katz have their financial clocks cleaned so the only option will be selling the team. “That is the biggest hope that I have for the Mets this year,” said Judy Sromovsky, a longtime fan who lives in Bridgewater, N. J.

The Daily News also outlines what's at stake in the case.

Jeff Bradley in the Star-Ledger has a Q&A with Justin Turner. Turner credits former Cincinnati Reds GM Wayne Krivsky, also a former special assistant with the Mets, for his opportunities at the major league level. "He was the GM of the Reds and drafted me in 2006," Turner told Bradley. "He got let go by the Reds and went to the Orioles and traded for me there. And then he came over to the Mets and picked me up when the Orioles put me on waivers. I owe a lot to him. He believed in me. He’s the reason I got this chance." Krivsky now has landed with the Minnesota Twins, where his career first ascended.

• Bench coach Bob Geren, a former major league catcher, tells the Star-Ledger Josh Thole is going to be prepared for games. Writes Bradley:

“He’s going to come to the field at a certain time at the start of the series to do his preparation from the video,” Geren begins. “Then, at a certain time, he’s going to meet with the pitching coach to go over it. He’s going to be heavily involved in the pitchers’ meeting, passing on what he’s observed. He’ll talk to the pitchers in between innings about how that inning went and who’s coming up next. That’s just the beginning.” Geren says when other players are playing cards on team flights, he expects to see Thole with his iPad, watching video of the next opponent. Not only does Geren want to see Thole putting in extra time, he wants the pitchers to see it.

Mike Kerwick in the Record looks at the competitors to take the lefty specialist role in the bullpen while Tim Byrdak takes approximately another five weeks to recover from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Garrett Olson likely is the frontrunner. The Mets have pulled Josh Edgin into major league camp, even though he has not pitched above Class A. James appears the primary consideration beyond Olson. Daniel Herrera is the fourth competitor. Writes Kerwick:

On road trips, the left-handed reliever likes to sneak away, stealing a moment for himself in the cheap seats. Accompanied by his Nikon D700, he sets up shop high above home plate. Garrett Olson chooses a lens. He snaps a photo. Then he quietly returns to the clubhouse. These are his butterflies, the camera his net. Olson has attempted to capture a portrait of every major league stadium. During his six seasons in the majors, he has compiled a modest collection. "Not all 30," Olson said before the Mets' 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday at Digital Domain Park. "Maybe half. Just a guess." There is one important stadium missing – the leopard absent from his safari. "This one," he said. "Citi Field. Certainly this and a lot of National League teams."

Mike Puma in the Post quotes pitching coach Dan Warthen regarding Edgin as saying: "I’m not going to talk about major leagues right now for him. But I wouldn’t be surprised if some time this year we saw him.”

• The Post quotes a Mets official as saying it's "50-50" whether the Mets sign left-hander C.J. Nitkowski. Newsday reported last week a deal was likely and seemed imminent.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post wonders whether Johan Santana or Andy Pettitte will contribute more this season. Writes Sherman:

Both lefties missed all of last season, albeit for different reasons. Santana was recovering from shoulder surgery while Pettitte took what now amounts to a one-year sabbatical. Santana is close to a necessity for the 2012 rotation-thin Mets. Pettitte appears a luxury for the rotation-deep Yankees. Santana is seven years younger than Pettitte, but the shoulder ailment he is trying to return from does not come with a high success rate, and certainly not a speedy one.

• Sherman also says there really are only four positives for the Mets -- Santana, the middle of the order, the bullpen and their pitching prospects.

• Infield coach Tim Teufel tells columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post that he is using Chase Utley as an example to Murphy of how to turn double plays, because Utley also has a larger frame. Teufel also is repositioning his middle infielders. “The goal for us is to become better at double-play turns, and that means being more aggressive on groundballs, getting the transfer a little bit quicker,’’ Teufel told Kernan. “So I’m moving the guys in a step and one step closer to the bag. We’re going to give up a little bit in the hole, but it’s more important that we are on time and under control, a little less lateral and back movements and a little more angle direct to the ball movements as an infield.’’

TRIVIA: Eight players started in right field for the Mets last season. Can you name them?

Saturday's answer: Jose Valentin started for the Mets at second base on Opening Day in 2007. Luis Castillo had the Game 1 nod at the position the next three seasons, followed by shortlived Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus in 2011.



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