- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets take a relatively short drive to Jupiter on Saturday to face the Miami Marlins.
Terry Collins expects Daniel Murphy to play in his first Grapefruit League game since Sunday, when Murphy injured his right calf.
Saturday’s news reports:
• A day after Ike Davis snapped an 18-day absence from Grapefruit League play, Lucas Duda snapped an absence of identical length. Duda belted a two-run homer and logged five innings at first base Friday against the Minnesota Twins. Duda also demonstrated that the left hamstring issue that hampered him for more than two weeks may truly be behind him. He hustled to score from first base on a first-inning double by Davis with no apparent ill effect. Collins said early season appearances for Duda in the outfield are pretty much off the table because the hamstring injury prevented Duda from getting work out there. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Expected Opening Day starter Dillon Gee limited the Twins to one run in 5 1/3 innings as the Mets beat Minnesota, 9-1, at Hammond Stadium. Gee still has yet to walk a batter this spring training. The Mets scored seven first-inning runs against ex-Marlin Ricky Nolasco, capped by a two-run homer from Taylor Teagarden. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Free-agent Stephen Drew is willing to sign a one-year, $14 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, who have lost shortstop Jose Iglesias to stress fractures in his shins, John Lowe writes in the Detroit Free Press. The Tigers nonetheless helped address their shortstop deficiency by acquiring Andrew Romine from the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. Romine is a former teammate of Ike Davis at Arizona State.
• The 7 Line, which produces Mets-themed T-shirts, is now an officially licensed MLB brand and will have a kiosk near Shake Shack at Citi Field, the company announced. Founder Darren Meenan launched the business in 2010 “printing T-shirts in my parents’ basement,” he wrote.
• Bobby Parnell skipped the three-hour trip to Fort Myers and instead allowed one hit in two scoreless innings in a minor-league game in Port St. Lucie. Parnell reportedly topped out at 94 mph, a good sign since his velocity has been down this spring training. Jose Valverde, who also is ticketed for the Opening Day bullpen, had a perfect frame against minor leaguers.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal studies the Mets’ plan to bat the pitcher eighth on occasion. The conclusion: There may be a benefit, but it is negligible.
Diamond writes that teams averaged 4.51 runs per game when batting the pitcher eighth since 1980. Those same teams averaged 4.33 runs per game batting the pitcher ninth during that span.
“You just can’t create runs -- or lose them -- by moving hitters around in the lineup,” renowned statistician Bill James told Diamond. “… To the small extent that it may matter, I think it is extremely likely that you’re better off with the pitcher batting eighth, rather than the pitcher batting ninth.”
The Mets’ logic in batting the pitcher eighth is that the No. 9 batter, likely Juan Lagares, essentially becomes a leadoff hitter, with No. 3 David Wright batting cleanup, the second time through the order. That should give Wright more opportunities to drive in runs.
• From the bloggers … Blogging Mets predicts more losing for the Amazin’s in 2014.
BIRTHDAYS: Ike Davis turns 27 today. ... Former Mets reliever Joe Smith, now with the Angels, is 30.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
An aerial view of the first pitch of the 2014 @MLB season. #OpeningSeries pic.twitter.com/NA8ZUPAKLo
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) March 22, 2014
YOU’RE UP: How should Terry Collins divide playing time between Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin in April?