New York Mets: Dave Racaniello

Morning Briefing: .500 slipping away

September, 16, 2014

FIRST PITCH: The Mets’ tragic number for postseason elimination is down to five. The Amazin’s trail the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second wild-card spot by eight games with 11 to play.

Even reaching .500 is slipping away. The Mets (72-79) must going 9-2 the rest of the way to avoid a sixth straight losing season. If they again finish below .500, they will match the Houston Astros for MLB’s longest active streak of losing seasons -- six straight.

Bartolo Colon (13-12, 4.14 ERA) tries to get the Mets back on track Tuesday. He opposes Miami Marlins right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (6-11, 4.29) at 7:10 p.m.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Jacob deGrom matched a modern-day major league record by striking out the first eight batters he faced, but Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia could not hold a lead in the eighth and the Mets lost to the Marlins, 6-5, Monday. DeGrom, who had a no-decision, finished with a career-high 13 strikeouts.

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

Matt Harvey's 2014 throwing program is in the books. Harvey put on one final show at Citi Field on Monday afternoon, throwing a simulated game on the main mound. He regularly touched 95 mph despite not quite throwing 100 percent. He used all of his pitches except the slider. Sandy Alderson expects Harvey to be on the same program as other starting pitchers during spring training. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Record.

• Alderson and Terry Collins are due to meet in Atlanta this weekend to discuss Collins’ future as well as plan for 2015. Both are expected to return.

Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post on the topic:

Alderson and Collins have overseen a mostly janitorial period with these Mets (72-79), one during which the Wilpons and Saul Katz have slashed payroll at a record-setting pace. Inaction and inertia have largely defined this time, so much so that it often felt difficult to evaluate these two men given how handcuffed they were by their superiors.

Yet with four years nearly in the books, we finally know Alderson’s and Collins’ strengths and weaknesses. And therefore the Mets should know how both men need to improve for this franchise to make its much-desired leap to bona fide contention.

For Alderson, it’s about filling out the roster and sweeping away the silliness. For Collins, it’s about maximizing that roster and embracing Citi Field.

Read columnist David Lennon’s take in Newsday and more in the Daily News.

• The Mets presented Sterling Awards to Steven Matz as the organization’s top pitcher and Dilson Herrera as the organization’s top position player. They also gave out awards during a pregame ceremony for the top performers at each level of the minors.

Long Island’s Matz spoke with media Monday afternoon about flirting with a no-hitter in Binghamton’s Eastern League championship clincher. Arizona Fall League-bound Matt Reynolds said he understood the September call-up snub. Alderson said Brandon Nimmo is a “lot more man” than a year ago. Kevin Plawecki said batterymate Noah Syndergaard’s numbers did not tell the whole story at Las Vegas. Plawecki also said his vertigo has not resurfaced.

Vic Black was diagnosed with a mild rotator-cuff strain in his right shoulder. He will refrain from throwing for five to six days. While he is not officially shut down for the season, Black may not appear again in 2014. Read more in the Post and Newsday.

Jeremy Hefner “likely” is headed for a second Tommy John surgery after an unfavorable visit to Dr. James Andrews.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal prints the opening two rounds of the Mets’ fantasy-football draft. The Dillon Gee/bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello team took Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy first overall. Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles went second overall to Harvey and strength coach Jim Malone.

• Harvey was named among New York's most stylish by Us Weekly.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear reflects on witnessing pitching history.

BIRTHDAYS: Orel Hershiser turns 56. ... Desi Relaford is 41. ... Chris (Animal) Carter is 32.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Does reaching .500 matter for the Mets?

Morning Briefing: Mets change scenery

June, 3, 2014

FIRST PITCH: The Mets finally get a change of scenery. After a five-game series in Philly that included consecutive 14-, 14- and 11-inning games, the Mets open a three-game set against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Zack Wheeler, coming off a dominating performance against the Philadelphia Phillies in which he allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings and struck out nine, starts the opener for the Mets, who look to reach .500. Wheeler (2-5, 4.31 ERA) opposes right-hander Jake Arrieta (1-1, 3.20).

“To go through what we went through, we’re tired,” Terry Collins said. “I’m not going to make any bones about it. This team is tired. We’re going to try to get some guys some days off this week.”

Asked if the firing of Dave Hudgens and release of Jose Valverde may have spurred the 6-1 week against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Phillies, Collins added: “I don’t know. I can’t answer that. We did something that a lot of places do it, a lot of businesses do it. They made a change they thought was necessary. I don’t know what the players thought of it. We haven’t necessarily gone crazy, but I think it got people’s attention, that’s for sure.”

Tuesday’s news reports:

Matt den Dekker robbed Philadelphia of two runs -- reaching over the wall to take away a homer from Ryan Howard and also throwing out Reid Brignac at the plate -- as the Mets beat the Phillies, 11-2, Monday at Citizens Bank Park. Wilmer Flores finished with a career-high six RBIs, capped by a ninth-inning grand slam. Dana Eveland recorded a pair of big outs in his first major league game in two years. The Mets (28-29) took four of five from the Phillies to move within a game of .500.

Drew Hallowell/Getty ImagesBartolo Colon pitched into the eighth inning Monday at Philly.

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

David Wright and Daniel Murphy are scheduled to get days off during the remainder of this road trip, with Wright’s potentially coming in the series opener at Wrigley Field.

• Den Dekker batted No. 1 Tuesday and will get the first chance in the leadoff role. Beyond that, Collins is not sure who he might try. It could even be Kirk Nieuwenhuis, presuming he gets promoted once the Mets shed a relief pitcher and return to a five-man bench. Read more in the Post.

Juan Lagares officially landed on the disabled list Monday afternoon with a strained intercostal muscle on his right side. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at

Matt Harvey remains on track to throw off a mound Monday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22. Read more in Newsday.

Eric Young Jr. is due to test his strained right hamstring running outdoors Tuesday for the first time since landing on the disabled list. He is not eligible to return until next Tuesday.

Gonzalez Germen (infection) restarted a rehab assignment Monday with Class A St. Lucie.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger writes that the Mets set the single-day cheesesteak consumption record in the visitors’ clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park on April 30 by collectively downing 103 of the Philly delicacies. Of course, bullpen catchers Dave Racaniello and Eric Langill did plenty of the damage. And it came during a rainout in which the Mets spent hours at the ballpark awaiting their flight to Denver. Writes Vorkunov:

Though impressive, perhaps it should not have been surprising. When it comes to eating cheesesteaks, the Mets are the 1961 Yankees, and their bullpen catchers, Dave Racaniello and Eric Langill, are the Mantle and Maris.

Last season, from April 8-10, Langill set the three-game series record by eating 17 cheesesteaks. He broke Racaniello’s record of 14 -- which had stood for years.

The cheesesteak-eating competition is not without rules and calls for prior planning. To viably set a record, cheesesteaks can only be eaten after getting to the ballpark until batting practice, from the end of batting practice until the game begins, and for an hour window after the game has concluded. There are moratoriums during batting practice and the game, likely so that players and coaches can proceed with their day jobs.

• Former Mets executive Dave Howard is out as president of MSG Sports.

• Although the Mets have settled on Jenrry Mejia as the closer, former pitcher C.J. Nitkowski writes at that the club has an opportunity to test sabermetric theories by not having a specific ninth-inning arm. Writes Nitkowski:

The Mets have an opportunity here to say to their best relievers, we have no closer, be ready from the sixth or seventh inning on because you could be called upon to get the biggest outs of the game. It is a great way to develop these young arms. Pitching in tight spots late in the game only makes you better as those games test your fortitude. If the Mets put their best young relievers in these games regardless of the inning, the result will be a group of battle-tested arms that will be ready to handle any and all situations.

Expensive closer are great when they are consistent, but so few are. Why force someone into the closer role when you don’t really have one? The Mets have some bright young arms both in their bullpen and in their rotation. This is an ideal time to train those relievers differently, both physically and mentally.

• Demoted Rafael Montero is due to start for Las Vegas on Tuesday. Noah Syndergaard (forearm) is penciled in to reenter the rotation Thursday for the Triple-A club.

Andrew Brown and Danny Muno had two-run homers and Miguel Socolovich earned his first save with two scoreless innings as Las Vegas beat Reno, 6-4. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Anthony DiComo at previews Thursday’s opening round of the draft. The team web site, like ESPN’s Keith Law, continues to project the Mets selecting University of Hartford left-hander Sean Newcomb.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal calculates where historically the Mets and Phillies playing 57 innings in a series fits.

BIRTHDAYS: Racaniello, the bullpen catcher, turns 36. ... Las Vegas infielder Zach Lutz is 28. ... Ex-catcher Barry Lyons is 54. ... Savannah outfielder Victor Cruzado is 22.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Who should bat leadoff for the Mets?

Morning Briefing: Harvey Coronation Day

July, 15, 2013

Kathy Willens/Associated PressMike Piazza and Rickey Henderson fool around during Sunday's celebrity softball game at Citi Field, which will be televised by ESPN tonight after the Home Run Derby.

FIRST PITCH: Barring a shocking turn of events, Matt Harvey is expected to be on the dais at a 1:30 p.m. press conference in the Caesars Club at Citi Field today, being introduced as the National League starting pitcher for Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

Harvey should become the fifth All-Star pitcher to start in his home ballpark since MLB expanded 52 years ago. He will join Roger Clemens (Houston, 2004), Esteban Loiaza (Chicago, 2003), Pedro Martinez (Boston, 1999) and Steve Rogers (Montreal, 1982), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“I’d be very surprised,” David Wright said about anything other than Harvey being named the starter occurring. “I think he’s deserving. It sucks that he missed this start [in Pittsburgh], but hopefully he’s ready to pitch on Tuesday.”

He will be ready. Harvey’s blister issue is resolved, according to Terry Collins.

Wright takes center stage Monday evening, when he competes on ESPN at 8 p.m. in the Home Run Derby. It is Wright’s first time participating in the event since finishing as the runner-up to Ryan Howard in Pittsburgh in 2006, in his inaugural All-Star year. That time, Paul Lo Duca pitched to Wright. This time, bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello draws the assignment.

“I’d say lefties probably have the better chance, just with the porch,” Wright said. “It’s probably a little more left-handed friendly down the line.”

Meanwhile, since dropping 15 games under .500 on June 17 with a series-opening loss at Atlanta, the Mets have posted a 16-10 record. The positive spurt happens to coincide with Eric Young Jr.’s arrival.

Still, the Mets (41-50) have dug a deep hole. They are nine games under .500 and own their worst All-Star break record since 2003, when they were 40-53 in Art Howe’s first season as manager.

For the optimists, the Mets are 10 games behind the Cincinnati Reds for the second wild-card spot and 11 games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves.

“Well, we’re disappointed,” Collins said. “We’re not happy with where we’re sitting. We got off to such a good start.

“We’ve had ups and downs. Heck, we’ve lost three-fifths of our starting rotation (Johan Santana, Shaun Marcum and Jonathon Niese). We’ve been scrambling to find guys to replace them. Ike [Davis] had a bad first half. We’re hoping he has a tremendous second half, like he did last year. We’ve lost Lucas [Duda]. We’ve lost [Justin] Turner. We’ve had a lot of injuries. We lost our closer.

“Fortunately, we had a guy pick up that (Bobby Parnell). We’ve had to play through a lot, as all teams have. But we’re certainly not satisfied with where we are. That’s why I’m saying: I’m very proud of the way they’ve played in the last month. I had one of the guys that’s not on our team the other day tell me: ‘You know, a lot of teams could have cashed it in in your situation. And your team hasn’t.’ That’s a pat on the back to those guys in that clubhouse.”

Said Wright: “You always want to win games, no matter what position you’re in. I think it’s nice that … we have a little more confidence moving forward into the second half. But there’s still a long way to go. But we had a nice month after a couple of pretty bad months. It’s nice that we’re progressively getting better. So hopefully the best is yet to come and we continue that trend.”

Monday’s news reports:

Jordany Valdespin reportedly had a temper tantrum with dismayed teammates watching after getting demoted Saturday, according to the Star-Ledger. The Post subsequently reported Valdespin cursed out Collins and demanded to be placed on the disabled list. Given Valdespin’s past baggage, who knows if we’ll see him again?

Mike Piazza will become the 27th member of the Mets’ Hall of Fame. He will be inducted before a Sept. 29 game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post, Daily News, Newsday and

Dillon Gee allowed one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings and the Mets completed a first-half-closing road trip with a 4-2 win against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. Scott Atchison returned from the disabled list and stranded two runners inherited from Gee.

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

William Perlman/USA TODAY SportsYou could find Brandon Nimmo on Sunday at the Futures Game. He went 0-for-2.

• Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero each tossed scoreless innings in the Futures Game at Citi Field, with Montero requiring only nine pitches for a 1-2-3 frame. Brandon Nimmo, who spoke about his season playing for Savannah pregame, went 0-for-2. See a photo of the Mets’ trio of prospects here.

Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News about Syndergaard:

He’s the new phenom, with [Zack] Wheeler in the big leagues now, showing the same type of stuff that again has scouts drooling.

“There’s a lot of buzz about him,” was the way GM Sandy Alderson put it on Sunday. “Every call I get [regarding trades] starts with, ‘What about Syndergaard?’ ”

Alderson all but hangs up at that point. Though he doesn’t say it, he doesn’t argue either when it is suggested that the 20-year old right-hander has become an untouchable.

Indeed, another person in the organization says flatly, “We’re not trading Syndergaard.”

Read more in the Times, Journal, Daily News, Ledger and Newsday.

• Wright was booed each plate appearance during all three weekend games in Pittsburgh. The faulty reasoning? He did not originally put Pedro Alvarez on the NL’s Home Run Derby squad. Alvarez eventually replaced Carlos Gonzalez last Thursday. Collins said the booing was misguided. Read more in Newsday.

Josh Satin reached base twice in four plate appearances, while Ike Davis grounded into a double play as a pinch hitter in the ninth. Afterward, Collins was noncommittal about playing-time distribution at first base after the All-Star break.

• Read more on Harvey in the Star-Ledger.

• Erik Goeddel tossed six scoreless innings and Pedro Feliciano inherited and stranded the bases loaded as Binghamton beat Portland, 4-0. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Wilmer Flores, who has been selected as the Mets’ lone representative in Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game in Reno, Nev., only suffered a “mild” ankle sprain when he left Saturday game, Paul DePodesta said.

• Anna Benson appeared on “America’s Most Wanted” in the 1990s. She reportedly was suspected of being linked to an execution-style murder. Read more in the Daily News.

• The Post All-Star preview package includes Steve Serby’s joint Q&A with Harvey and Wright, things to see around the All-Star Game, a look back at the ’64 game in the inaugural year at Shea Stadium, and a fan vote for an all-time Mets team by position.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal details what goes into readying a stadium for an All-Star Game. Diamond also gives out midseason Mets awards.

From the bloggers … Mets Police takes a look at some tweaks to Citi Field for All-Star Week. … Trading Bobby Parnell or Marlon Byrd just creates further holes, writes John Delcos at Mets Report.

BIRTHDAYS: Jerry Manuel-favorite Fernando Nieve, currently in Triple-A with Cleveland, turns 31. … Wilson Delgado is 41. … James Baldwin is 42. … Don Clendenon was born on this date in 1935. He died in 2005.


Morning Briefing: Almost break time

July, 14, 2013

FIRST PITCH: The Mets soon will have a chance to recharge their batteries -- well, with the exception of David Wright and Matt Harvey, who should be plenty busy over the next few days.

Dillon Gee (6-7, 4.60 ERA) opposes rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole (4-2, 3.68) in today’s 1:35 p.m. first-half finale at PNC Park as the Mets look to avoid getting swept. All-Star southpaw Jeff Locke was scratched from the start by the Pirates.

Courtesy of New York MetsNoah Syndergaard is the starter for Team USA in today's Futures Game.

Less than a half-hour after the Mets-Pirates game gets under way, the All-Star events at Citi Field begin with the 2 p.m. Futures Game, which will be televised live on ESPN2.

Mets farmhands Noah Syndergaard (Team USA) and Rafael Montero (World) will start opposite each other on the mound. The squads will be managed by Mookie Wilson and Edgardo Alfonzo. 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo will come off the bench for Team USA.

Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi, in a radio interview Saturday, projected Montero as a No. 4 starter in the majors and raved about Syndergaard’s electric fastball and power sinker.

The celebrity softball game featuring Mike Piazza, John Franco, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Rickey Henderson will be played today at Citi Field after the Futures Game. It will be televised by ESPN on Monday, after the 8 p.m. Home Run Derby, at approximately 10:30 p.m.

Sunday’s news reports:

• After Saturday’s game, Jordany Valdespin was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. Scott Atchison will return from the disabled list to give the Mets an extra relief arm for the first-half finale. Valdespin was 2-for-his-last-36. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Post.

• Despite Carlos Torres contributing five solid innings in his first major league start in three years, the Mets lost to the Pirates, 4-2, Saturday at PNC Park. Ike Davis was unable to make a pair of fielding plays in Pittsburgh’s two-run seventh inning.

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

• Sandy Alderson told he does not foresee the roster “looking substantially different” after the July 31 trade deadline.

Alderson, in a separate interview in Newsday, said about Marlon Byrd: "We're not looking to move Marlon. Obviously, we have our eye on the future, but we want to be as good as we can be this year as well. Now, if what we can get for the future exceeds the value of the present, we'd have to look at that. But we're not anxious to do it."

Regarding Bobby Parnell, the GM added: "We've been looking for a closer for two years. Looks like we've found one. Why would we want to give him away immediately? This is not a guy we're looking to move, either."

Ricciardi, matching Alderson’s comments, said the Mets are not eager to trade Byrd.

Read more in the Post.

• Alderson told Kristie Ackert in the Daily News that Harvey skipping Saturday’s start primarily was to curtail his innings and was not about the All-Star Game. “He would pitch in the All-Star Game whether he pitched today or not,” Alderson told Ackert on Saturday. “That wasn’t the reason we made the decision. We made the decision on his projected workload over the course of the season. His blister was a factor.”

• John Harper and Anthony McCarron in the Daily News catch up with Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Gooden, Ron Darling and Al Leiter about their first All-Star Game experiences. Ken Davidoff in the Post talks with 72-year-old Ron Hunt, the last Met to start an All-Star Game in Queens, back in 1964 at Shea Stadium.

• Seaver will serve as the grand marshal of Tuesday’s 1 p.m. All-Star parade, which will travel across 42nd St., beginning at Sixth Ave. and continuing to Third Ave.

• Regarding his first All-Star Game, Harvey tells Kevin Kernan in the Post: “This is a huge honor for me, and to be able to put that uniform on is really awesome, especially being there with David. David told me to keep my eyes open, keep my ears open and really just enjoy it. All of this is new, and I’m taking it in stride. But when it comes to Cliff Lee and guys who have done it multiple times, it’s really something I’m looking forward to. And, hopefully, it’s not my last All-Star Game.”

• Anthony Rieber in Newsday talks with Wright on the eve of another All-Star appearance, while colleague Marc Carig in Newsday talks with Harvey about his first-half success.

Jeremy Hefner will start the second-half opener for the Mets against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday at Citi Field. Zack Wheeler starts on Saturday, followed by Harvey on Sunday. Gee then gets next Monday’s series opener against the Atlanta Braves, followed by Torres.

• Terry Collins identifies outfield production as one reason for the Mets’ improved team performance, the Times writes.

• Wright’s pitcher in Monday’s Home Run Derby is bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Justin Turner began a rehab assignment for a strained intercostal muscle on his left side on Saturday as the DH in the Gulf Coast League. He is expected to play for Class A St. Lucie on Sunday, signaling a return right after the All-Star break.

Jenrry Mejia, on a rehab assignment, tossed five scoreless innings as Binghamton completed a doubleheader sweep of Portland. Wilmer Flores, who had been due to play in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday, departed Sunday’s Las Vegas game after one inning with a hamstring injury. Anthony Chavez’s RBI double in the top of the ninth lifted Brooklyn to a 2-1 win against Connecticut. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Ken Belson in the Times discusses the benefit to the host team of putting on an All-Star Game. Writes Belson:

The main financial lift for the host club is to use the All-Star Game to help push ticket sales to every other game on the schedule.

“For us, the big plus is you expand your season-ticket base going into that year,” said Kevin Uhlich, the senior vice president for business operations for the Kansas City Royals, who were the hosts for the All-Star Game in 2012. “While our play on the field didn’t change, our season tickets were up 25 percent because the only way to guarantee All-Star tickets was to buy a ticket plan.”

• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger discusses Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ improved performance with the center fielder.

• Cody Derespina in Newsday suggests Harvey has pitched better than his 7-2 record indicates.

• Jordan Lauterbach in Newsday profiles Brooklyn second baseman LJ Mazzilli, son of Lee Mazzilli.

• Steven Marcus in Newsday writes that All-Star venue Citi Field evokes memories of Ebbets Field, as Fred Wilpon intended.

BIRTHDAYS: White Sox manager/ex-Met Robin Ventura turns 46. He will be one of the AL coaches at Tuesday’s All-Star Game, along with Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. The NL coaches also have Mets ties: Collins and Davey Johnson. ... Las Vegas reliever Jack Leathersich is 23.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should Terry Collins use Josh Satin at first base on Sunday, even though the Pirates now are using a right-hander?

Rac gets call to pitch to Wright in Derby

July, 13, 2013

Scott Rovak/US PresswireDavid Wright finished as the runner-up in the 2006 Home Run Derby in Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH -- Bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello will throw to David Wright in Monday's Home Run Derby at Citi Field.

Racaniello had been slated to throw to Wright in Pittsburgh at the 2006 All-Star Game, but had to bail because of back surgery. Paul Lo Duca instead pitched to Wright, who reached the finals before losing to Ryan Howard.

The Home Run Derby will be televised live by ESPN at 8 p.m.

Mets morning briefing 4.30.12

April, 30, 2012
Johan Santana tossed six scoreless innings. Yet the southpaw was saddled with a no-decision because Todd Helton belted a grand slam in the eighth off Tim Byrdak. Frank Francisco blew his first save as a Met by also surrendering a game-tying homer, on a solo shot by Carlos Gonzalez in the 10th. But the Mets ultimately prevailed on Ike Davis' RBI single in the 11th to win Sunday's rubber game at Coors Field, 6-5.

Monday's news reports:

• Santana remained winless this season, despite having allowed one run or fewer in all but one of his starts. It marks the first time since his rookie season in 2000 with the Minnesota Twins that Santana has failed to be credited with a victory in any of his opening five starts of a season. Terry Collins had a logical explanation for pulling Santana at 90 pitches after six scoreless innings. Santana was working on standard rest for the first time in the regular season since undergoing Sept. 14, 2010 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. Santana also was coming off his highest pitch count since his comeback. He had tossed 105 pitches against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.

• After completing a rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Buffalo, Andres Torres is due to be activated from the disabled list Monday in Houston. Assistant GM John Ricco announced righty-hitting corner infielder Zach Lutz would be demoted over Jordany Valdespin to create roster room. The biggest curiosity is the outfield alignment with Torres back. Collins announced pregame that Kirk Nieuwenhuis would move to left field, a position he has never played. After the game, and after Nieuwenhuis had a highlight-reel diving catch in left-center to keep Santana's outing scoreless in the fifth, Collins wavered slightly. Torres has started 30 major league games in left field. Still, Collins indicated, Nieuwenhuis is more likely than Torres to be in left field on Monday when the Mets face Astros right-hander Bud Norris at Minute Maid Park.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger suggests the perception among a segment of fans that Torres is an inferior center fielder to Nieuwenhuis is misguided. Writes McCullough:

Torres is the more accomplished fielder. From 2009 to 2011, he ranked seventh among center fielders in Ultimate Zone Rating, an advanced metric that attempts to quantify how many runs a defender saves. During that time period, Torres saved 19.4 runs while with San Francisco. Heading into the season, scouts questioned Nieuwenhuis’ ability to handle center field full-time. But he’s performed a series of high-wire catches since becoming the team’s regular there the second game of the season.

Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.

• In part to build team chemistry, Mets veterans suggested in spring training that players and staff wear western apparel during the trip from Denver to Houston. R.A. Dickey had an elaborate sheriff's outfit complete with fake gun, holster and badge. Daniel Murphy introduced pink to his cowboy ensemble. David Wright, Mike Nickeas and bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello dressed as the colorful "Three Amigos," complete with sombreros and fake mustaches. Mets players similarly plan a hockey-themed attire day for the May 18-20 interleague series at Toronto, during a trip that continues in Pittsburgh. See dress-up photos here.

• Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning visited Coors Field on Sunday. He attended the University of Tennessee along with Dickey and Helton, and is particularly friendly with the Rockies first baseman. Wright, while wearing his sombrero and fake mustache, bumped into Manning while entering the stadium in the morning, which amused the older brother of Eli. Read more in Newsday.

• Davis confessed to thinking back to his season-ending ankle injury in Denver last May 10 as he fielded a 10th-inning popup Sunday. Wright stayed out of the way this time.

Ruben Tejada had 10 hits in the three-game series and is now hitting .310. The last Met to have 10 hits in a three games series? That was Edgardo Alfonzo in 2000, also against Colorado. If Tejada has another three-hit game Monday in Houston, he will match the franchise record for consecutive three-plus-hit games. Brett Butler accomplished the feat in four straight games in 1995. Read more in Newsday.

• Read game recaps from Sunday's seesaw affair in the Post, Star-Ledger, Times, Daily News, Record, Journal and Newsday.

Zack Wheeler -- who had been the victim of a lack of run support -- finally picked up his first Double-A win, and 2008 first-round pick Reese Havens returned from injury with a homer in his first 2012 at-bat, as Binghamton beat Erie, 7-1, Sunday. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Broadcaster Howie Rose, who skipped the weekend series in Denver, was inducted into the Nationals Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum at Commack, Long Island, on Sunday. Wrote Steven Marcus in Newsday:

When he and his friends went to Shea and the Mets won, Rose recalled one of his chums yelling, "Put it in the books!'' It became Rose's signature line. Rose, who lives in Woodbury, also calls Islanders games on TV but is famously known for calling Stephane Matteau's winning goal in the second overtime for the Rangers against the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals during the 1994 run to the Stanley Cup. "I'm amazed 18 years later at how the Matteau call has endured,'' Rose said. "There are very few days when I'm in a public setting where somebody doesn't yell out 'Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!' " Rose, 58, also thanked Marv Albert for being an early mentor.

TRIVIA: Who did the Mets receive when they traded Mike Scott to the Astros on Dec. 10, 1982?

Sunday's answer: Larry Dierker won 14 career games against the Mets, the most of any Houston pitcher. Joe Niekro and Don Wilson rank second on that list with 12 career wins apiece against the Mets.

Byrdak 'pushing' for Opening Day

March, 28, 2012

Adam Rubin
Tim Byrdak and Dan Warthen exchange fist bumps after the southpaw's first mound session since surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Tim Byrdak may be overly optimistic, but the left-handed reliever said he is "pushing" to be ready for Opening Day.

Byrdak threw off a mound Wednesday for the first time since March 13 surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee and had no apparent issue. He hopes to pitch in a minor league game Friday, assuming he feels OK tomorrow, but it's not clear the organization will let him push that rapidly.

Adam Rubin
Tim Byrdak throws off a mound Wednesday.

If Byrdak does not appear in a Grapefruit League game during the final week of spring training, he only would be required to miss the first four games of the regular season on the disabled list because of backdating rules. The Mets are preparing to take Daniel Herrera north as a short-term plug for Byrdak.

Byrdak being ready for the April 5 opener against the Atlanta Braves -- albeit not the likely scenario -- would alleviate the need to clear a third 40-man roster spot. The Mets are expected to need to clear room for backup outfielder Mike Baxter and reliever Miguel Batista, and potentially another spot if Andres Torres (calf) were not ready.

Byrdak was in good spirits during Wednesday's session with bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello.

"You ready to be amazed?" the comedic Byrdak asked Racaniello at the outset.

"I'm already amazed a man your age can pitch," Rac shot back.

After throwing a pitch, Byrdak then exclaimed: "Like I've never missed a beat."

"Lot of movement," Byrdak told Rac mid-session.

"Lot of movement," Rac repeated.

"That's not a bad thing to have," Byrdak said.

Gary Carter patches now on uniforms

March, 1, 2012

Adam Rubin
Bullpen catchers Dave Racaniello and Eric Langill wear the new patch remembering Gary Carter on their right sleeves. The "KID 8" patch was added to all uniforms, including spring-training jerseys, in time for Thursday's workout.

Light moment -- 'Rac' sets record

May, 2, 2011
The chants of "U-S-A" in the visitors clubhouse after the game were partially reflecting the international news. But they also were celebrating an American tradition -- gorging oneself.

Bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello set the official visitors' clubhouse record at Citizens Bank Park with 14 cheese steaks consumed. The previous record had belonged to former major leaguer Dmitri Young.

Sunday night bowling will be serious

February, 7, 2011
Think the Sunday night bowling events Terry Collins is organizing for the Mets are going to be laid back? Think again, apparently.

After David Wright took batting practice Monday in Port St. Lucie, the conversation between Collins, bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello and Wright shifted to the start-up bowling league. The trio resolved that the first Sunday should be to gauge people's ability, so that teams can be balanced. They also discussed finding a scorekeeper, so standings and overall pin totals can be kept week-to-week. (Assistant GM John Ricco's name came up as a potential commissioner -- or at least scorekeeper -- but the trio quickly laughed it off, concluding Ricco had plenty on his plate as it is.)

“I love doing stuff like that anyway, whether it’s golfing, bowling," Wright said. "I love getting together with the guys and just having a competition like that. I guess we’ll find out soon what kind of bowler I am. But if I’m going to participate, I’m going to try to go out there and win."

Bored in Virginia this offseason, Wright has picked up a bowling ball a few times this winter.

“Sometimes there’s not a lot to do," the third baseman said. "I’ve picked up the bowling ball a few times this offseason, especially once I heard we’re going to have this league. I don’t want to be surprised by anything. So I practiced a little bit and I think I’m ready to go.”

Wright originally was coy about what he can bowl, but then offered: “I think it’s just the same with my baseball -- just a lot of inconsistencies. Every once in a while I’ll creep up around 200. I can also bowl a 120 or 130. Just like baseball, I think it’s kind of parallel. I need to find some consistency in baseball, find some consistency in bowling.”

Collins offered a similar analysis, saying he's fully capable of hitting 190, but he's just as capable of bowling a 140 or even 110. The 61-year-old Collins acknowledged part of the fluctation is the result of arthritis in his bowling hand that tends to flare up.

Wright said he loves Collins' idea to get the team together for weekly bowling nights.

“I love the fact that he’s so energetic, not only about baseball, just about everything in general," Wright said about his manager. "... I think there’s a lot to be said for the kind of chemistry you have in the clubhouse, and I think that builds it, so I think it’s a tremendous idea.”



Daniel Murphy
.289 9 57 79
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187