New York Mets: Elvin Ramirez

Roster sharpens as Mets leave St. Lucie

March, 29, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets made a flurry of moves as they prepared to depart Port St. Lucie for a trip across the state to Sarasota to face the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

• Non-roster left-hander Scott Rice beat out Robert Carson as the second left-hander in the bullpen. Rice, 31, makes his first major league roster in his 15th professional season.

Omar Quintanilla will head to Triple-A Las Vegas as the shortstop, meaning the Mets will carry no bona fide backup to Ruben Tejada.

Anthony Recker beat out Landon Powell as backup catcher to John Buck.

• Like Rice, Marlon Byrd, LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison were added to the 40-man roster. The Mets previously had freed 40-man spots by outrighting Brandon Hicks and trading Elvin Ramirez to the Los Angeles Angels. They now also have successfully placed Reese Havens and Darin Gorski through waivers. The 40-man roster currently is full, but another spot can be created by shifting Johan Santana to the 60-day DL.

• Right-handers Jeurys Familia and Greg Burke have made the team.

• The lone decision not announced is whether Justin Turner lands on the DL to start the season, although that seems more likely than not. If Turner is on the DL, Zach Lutz and Kirk Nieuwenhuis should be on the roster. If Turner were active, the Mets can only choose one of the other two -- likely, Nieuwenhuis it would seem.

Nieuwenhuis' probable addition, although not official, signals the Mets are dissatisfied with their defensive capability in center field. Nieuwenhuis hit .088 this spring, though.

Shaun Marcum, as expected, will open the season on the disabled list. The Mets will try to ready him to be activated for Game 6, against the Miami Marlins. At that point, the eight-man bullpen would be reduced to seven. If Marcum cannot go, the Mets would have to search for other options -- with Aaron Laffey presumably the leading candidate.

Pedro Feliciano, Tim Byrdak and Matt den Dekker will remain behind in Port St. Lucie. Feliciano has said he will pitch for Class A St. Lucie.

So 23 spots on the roster belong to ...

Catchers (2): John Buck and Anthony Recker

Infielders (5): Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, David Wright and Jordany Valdespin

Outfielders (4):Lucas Duda, Collin Cowgill, Marlon Byrd and Mike Baxter

Rotation (4): Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner

Bullpen (8): Bobby Parnell, Brandon Lyon, LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Atchison, Josh Edgin, Scott Rice, Greg Burke and Jeurys Familia

Plus, two of three from DL-candidate Justin Turner, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Zach Lutz

Morning briefing: Crunch time for roster

March, 28, 2013

FIRST PITCH: Prospect Domingo Tapia starts for the Mets as they make a trip to Viera to face left-hander Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals today at 1:05 p.m.

Tapia, a 21-year-old right-hander, went 6-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts) with Class A Savannah last season.

Thursday’s news reports:

Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Justin Turner suffered a left calf strain Wednesday.

Justin Turner suffered a strained left calf and now may end up on the disabled list to open the season. The Mets had been debating carrying Kirk Nieuwenhuis over Omar Quintanilla on the Opening Day roster. Now, both may fit if Turner opens the season inactive. Read more in Newsday and the Times.

• The Mets plan to have Shaun Marcum (neck) start Tuesday in a minor league or simulated game, then presumably have him activated from the DL to start the sixth game of the regular season, April 7 against the Miami Marlins. That would alleviate the need to carry Aaron Laffey and open a 40-man roster spot -- and presumably allow the Mets to squeeze relievers Greg Burke and Jeurys Familia on the Opening Day roster. Read more in the Post, Newsday and Record.

Daniel Murphy should play in his first Grapefruit League game today, signaling he will be ready to break camp with the club. David Wright, similarly optimistic, will stick to a minor league game. Read more in the Record, Daily News, Star-Ledger and

• See’s updated roster projection here.

Jeremy Hefner survived Tuesday’s sharp comebacker that struck him in the right elbow and is slated for Game 4 of the regular season. Read more in the Times.

Jonathon Niese tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a 74-pitch effort in his final work before facing the San Diego Padres on Opening Day. Marlon Byrd homered and had a two-run double and the Mets beat the Astros, 6-2, Wednesday. Read more in Newsday and

• Niese opposes Edinson Volquez on Monday at Citi Field. Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee also face the San Diego Padres. Check the projected pitching matchups for the first two series here. Read more in the Daily News and Star-Ledger.

Courtesy of New York Mets
Reliever Elvin Ramirez has been traded to the Angels.

• The Mets traded Elvin Ramirez to the Angels for cash to clear a 40-man roster spot. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Forbes values the Mets at $811 million. The Mets annually dispute the assessment. Read more in the Post and Newsday.

Bobby Parnell struck out the side in closing out Wednesday’s Grapefruit win. “I felt pretty strongly about him last year, going into the season, but still worried about him being the guy we wanted late in the game,” pitching coach Dan Warthen told Mike Puma in the Post. “But I think that maturity showed up toward the end of last year and hopefully it will carry on for the rest of his career.”

Pedro Feliciano, who accepted a minor league assignment, said he will pitch with Class A St. Lucie, not Triple-A Las Vegas. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Sports Illustrated has a lengthy piece this week remembering former Mets top prospect Brian Cole, who died in an automobile accident departing spring training in 2001. The Herald-Tribune has a summary.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post describes the Mets as undermanned but keeping the faith. Writes Kernan:

These Mets, of course, had better be ready because there is no help coming over the hill. The Yankees run into major injuries and the next thing you know, they’re dropping $14 million on trying to salvage Vernon Wells’ career. The move may not work, but the Yankees are throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

That is not happening here. This is it as far as talent coming through the Mets’ clubhouse door. And make no mistake: It is going to be a supreme challenge.

“It’s going to be a long year for the Mets,’’ a scout who has followed the team all spring told The Post last night. “I like Matt Harvey and I like Jon Niese, but the other guys in the rotation are all the same kind of guys. They don’t have enough offense and they will have trouble catching the ball.’’

• Jared Diamond in the Journal is unimpressed with the Mets’ options for a second lefty in the bullpen to complement Josh Edgin.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report writes the club should back off readying Wright for Opening Day. … At Mets Police, in 2002 Mets fans were greeted by long post-9/11 security lines and Mo Vaughn.

BIRTHDAYS: Brad Emaus, the Opening Day second baseman two seasons ago, turns 27. … Generation K member Paul Wilson turns 40.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you think Shaun Marcum will be ready to start Game 6 of the season?

Elvin shipped to Angels to free 40-man spot

March, 27, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Reliever Elvin Ramirez has been traded to the Los Angeles Angels for cash. The maneuver frees a 40-man roster spot.

Ramirez, 25, had a 5.48 ERA in 20 relief appearances at the major league level last season.

The Mets' 40-man roster now stands at 38.

Morning briefing: The Wheel demotion deal

March, 11, 2013

Adam Rubin
Zack Wheeler was dispatched to minor league camp Sunday, on the day he faced batters after an oblique injury.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets make their second 2˝-hour drive to Lakeland, Fla., in four days. This time, they get to face Justin Verlander, who mowed down all nine Mets he faced at Tradition Field on March 1.

Jonathon Niese starts for the Mets. Also due to pitch: Aaron Laffey, Greg Burke, Scott Rice and Pedro Feliciano.

Meanwhile, Mookie Wilson has arrived at Port St. Lucie and will be at the Mets complex beginning today.

Monday’s news reports:

• The Mets dispatched Zack Wheeler to minor league camp along with nine other players. Later in the day, Wheeler threw batting practice -- his first time facing hitters since straining his right oblique on Feb. 27. Also optioned to the minors: left-hander Darin Gorski, right-handers Gonzalez Germen, Collin McHugh, Elvin Ramirez and Hansel Robles, infielders Reese Havens and Wilfredo Tovar, and outfielders Juan Lagares and Cesar Puello. Read more in the Times, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News, Record, Post and

David Wright hit .455 with three walks and five RBIs in three first-round games and Team USA advanced in the World Baseball Classic with a 9-4 win against Canada on Sunday at Chase Field. Wright scored three times in the clincher. Team USA next plays Puerto Rico on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Miami.

“It would have been a long trip to go back to St. Lucie and answer questions from my own teammates on why we couldn’t get the job done,” Wright said. “At least we made it out of this round, and plan on making it out of the next round.”

Read more in the Post, Daily News, Times and Newsday.

Shaun Marcum tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings and Jordany Valdespin had a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth as the Mets beat the Cardinals, 3-0. Read more in the Record, Star-Ledger and

• Valdespin is securing a spot on the Opening Day roster. Read more in the Post.

Frank Francisco threw off a mound for the first time since developing elbow inflammation upon arriving at camp. Read more in the Times.

Johan Santana appears destined for the disabled list to open the season, but Sandy Alderson will not proclaim that yet. "His condition will dictate his schedule," Alderson told reporters. "At this point, I'm not going to concern myself with any sort of emotional response. It's all about, ‘Let's get him ready.’” Read more in Newsday, the Post and Daily News.

• Bill Parcells attended Sunday’s Mets-Cardinals game and was presented with an autographed Mets jersey to recognize his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

• Tyler Kepner in the Times visits Mariners camp, where Jason Bay is trying to resurrect his career, as Oliver Perez has done in Seattle. The Mets still owe Bay $21 million, although they deferred $15 million of that sum as part of a buyout. Writes Kepner regarding Bay, whose offseason home is in Seattle:

[GM Jack] Zduriencik said the Mariners hoped to add offense and leadership in the offseason without sacrificing young talent. They accomplished that, he said, by acquiring Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse and the former Yankee Raul Ibanez. But the first move was a modest deal for Bay, who is guaranteed $500,000, an amount that doubles if he makes the opening day roster. Bay, Zduriencik and their wives had dinner before he signed.

“It made a lot of sense for him to try to make a go of it where he’s living,” Zduriencik said. “He can drive his kids to school in the morning and then play baseball. I walked away thinking, ‘What a good guy, what a genuine person.’”

From the bloggers … At Mets Police, Mike V's Countdown to Opening Day stops at 1999, when the Mets slogan asked, "Are You Ready?"

BIRTHDAYS: Jeremy Hefner turns 27.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Given the state of the Mets’ outfield, should they have kept Jason Bay, since they’re paying him anyway?

Zack, 9 others dispatched to minors camp

March, 10, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins had been open in noting top prospect Zack Wheeler was unlikely to make the Mets' Opening Day roster. Still, Wheeler confessed, he felt disappointment when he was summoned into the manager's office Sunday morning with Collins as well as Sandy Alderson and Dan Warthen and was officially told he was being reassigned to minor league camp.

Wheeler's primary regret: A right oblique injury prompted him to be scratched from a start 11 days ago against the St. Louis Cardinals and limited him to one Grapefruit League appearance.

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsZack Wheeler was sent to minor league camp Sunday.
"I don't think the injury helped," Wheeler said.

Wheeler headlined a wave of cuts Sunday at Mets camp. Also dispatched to the minor league side: left-hander Darin Gorski, right-handers Gonzalez Germen, Collin McHugh, Elvin Ramirez and Hansel Robles, infielders Reese Havens and Wilfredo Tovar, and outfielders Juan Lagares and Cesar Puello. The Mets now have 45 players in major league camp.

Wheeler tossed two scoreless innings against the Washington Nationals on Feb. 23 in his lone Grapefruit League appearance. He threw live batting practice Sunday -- his first time facing batters since suffering the oblique strain while swinging in a cage.

"I only got out there one time," Wheeler said. "That's what I'm kind of mad about. I wanted to sort of get out there and prove myself. I hope I'll be up here soon."

Wheeler said the message from Mets brass in the Sunday meeting was to "just keep working down there, make us pull you up, and we'll be looking for you soon."

When might Wheeler reach the big leagues?

That should be dictated by a combination of factors, including an injury at the major league level creating a need and Wheeler's performance at Triple-A Las Vegas. But the general timeline may match the path Matt Harvey followed last season. Harvey's major league debut came July 26, 2012.

Business factors play a part.

If Wheeler stays in the minors for the first 20 days of this season, he will avoid getting credited with a full year of major league service, delaying his free agency from after the 2018 season until after the 2019 season. Also, the Mets can avoid making Wheeler a "Super 2" during the 2015-16 offseason -- which would result in an extra year of arbitration eligibility -- by ensuring he is not in the first 22 percent of rookies called up this year.

One major league executive estimated the cutoff date for the extra year of arbitration eligibility may fall around June 15, so a promotion for Wheeler may be stalled until after that date. The same logic applies to catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud.

"That was my goal -- to make it out of spring training. I've got another goal, to be up here as soon as possible," Wheeler said. "When I'm ready I'll be up here. Hopefully that will be sooner than later."

Wheeler, who lockered between Johan Santana and Harvey in the clubhouse, said he learned "how to conduct yourself around here and stuff like that."

D'Arnaud remains in major league camp, but he is expected to be dispatched to the minors later this month. The duo should form the Opening Day battery for Las Vegas on April 4 at Sacramento.

Wheeler went 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA in six late-season starts at Triple-A Buffalo in 2012.

"Just putting everything together, just getting my command ready to go every inning, every pitch," Wheeler said about what he will polish in Triple-A. "Just refining everything, I guess."

He concluded: "All the starting pitchers over here have to start getting stretched out now. So we -- us minor league pitchers -- have to split ways and get ready for our season."

Venezuela 14, Mets 10: Cabrera unloads

March, 6, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera slugged homers against Carlos Torres and Elvin Ramirez in consecutive innings and Venezuela's World Baseball Classic entrant built a huge lead en route to a 14-10 win against the Mets at Tradition Field on Wednesday afternoon.

Game tidbits:

Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Jon Niese pitches against Venezuela on Wednesday.

FORMIDABLE FOE: Facing a loaded Venezuela lineup, Jonathon Niese was charged with four earned runs on six hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. Two of the runs charged to Niese scored after being inherited by Torres.

Asked if he would ever see anything like the Venezuelan lineup again this year, Niese said: "Obviously not, unless I'm in the All-Star Game. They have an unbelievable lineup, and they battle very well. They made me throw a lot of pitches. I thought I executed some good ones, and then I didn't execute some. They made me pay for a bunch of them."

Niese stands to be the Opening Day starter if Johan Santana is not ready for the April 1 game against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field.

"He's working real hard to get back," Niese said about Santana. "He wants that spot more than anybody. It would be a great honor. I'm thankful that the Mets put that trust in me. But, like I said, Johan is working hard to get to that position."

LUCKY SEVEN: Trailing 12-0, the Mets produced a seven-run fifth inning against Wil Ledezma and Romulo Sanchez. The damage included a three-run homer by Marlon Byrd against Sanchez.

CENTER ATTENTION: Terry Collins used Byrd and then Jordany Valdespin in center field as he tries to identify lineup options. The manager noted postgame that he has been disappointed with the Mets' hitting thus far, so he's clearly experimenting. It marked Byrd's first time in center field and Valdespin's first time in the outfield this spring training.

"Well, he didn't get much action, except for balls blowing over his head that he had to go chase," Collins said about his impressions of Byrd in center. "He's played out there. I just wanted to get him out there and get to see how he looks. I'm going to play him again out there another time. I want to get Valdespin some looks in the outfield. We're not swinging the bats very good. I know it's spring training. I know it's early in spring training. Everybody has got 40 more at-bats to go. I'm looking for somebody to step up here."

DUCK! Zach Lutz was hit with a curveball in the back of the helmet by former Mets farmhand Deolis Guerra, but remained in the game and said he was fine afterward. Lutz had been drilled in the head twice with Triple-A Buffalo in 2011, each time suffering a severe concussion.

PARTING SHOT: Venezuelan Wilmer Flores delivered a solo homer with two out in the ninth against his country's national team to cap the scoring.

Mets 4, Nats 4: Rafael Montero debuts

February, 28, 2013
VIERA, Fla. -- Rafael Montero moved to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, as a 17-year-old and got serious about baseball.

Three years later, he signed with the Mets in 2011.

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Rafael Montero made his Grapefruit League debut Thursday night.

Thursday night, the 22-year-old right-hander made his Grapefruit League debut against a good portion of the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day lineup.

Montero -- the Mets’ organizational pitcher of the year in 2011 for his performances at Class A Savannah and St. Lucie last season (11-5, 2.36 ERA) -- surrendered one run on three hits in two innings against the Nats at Space Coast Stadium.

He appeared unfazed by the stage during a 41-pitch effort.

The Mets and Nats finished in a 4-all tie after 10 innings.

Montero allowed a leadoff double to Denard Span in the first inning, but consecutively retired Kurt Suzuki, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche to strand Span at second. An inning later, Danny Espinosa produced a one-out double and scored on Nats top prospect Anthony Rendon’s double.

Montero identified his fastball as his top pitch. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud agreed.

“I believe so, just because he can locate it to either side of the plate -- any count,” d’Arnaud said. “

Montero throws a sinker, slider and changeup.

“He executed all of his pitches,” d’Arnaud said. “He has a game plan out there. He’s got phenomenal stuff. He keeps the ball down and he’s got three great pitches. He seemed really comfortable. … He had a phenomenal breaking ball, too. He kept it down and he had a good, sharp angle on it. It’s a real hard pitch to hit.”

Said Terry Collins: “He’s got a good arm. I like the fact that he really pounds the strike zone with his stuff. Great poise on the mound. Great demeanor. Pretty impressive.”

Game tidbits:

• Matt den Dekker singled, stole a base and scored on a wild pitch in the seventh as the Mets pulled even at 4.

Jeremy Hefner completed the game with 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings.

• In his second meeting with the Mets, Stephen Strasburg tossed three innings. He allowed only a Mike Baxter sacrifice fly that scored Jordany Valdespin.

Strasburg’s line: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. He threw 52 pitches (30 strikes).

Brandon Lyon allowed one run in one inning. Josh Edgin allowed an unearned run in two innings.

Collin Cowgill went 2-for-4. He’s 6-for-11 with a homer and two walks in Grapefruit play.

Omar Quintanilla (.429) contributed an RBI double against Zach Duke in the fourth inning.

Elvin Ramirez issued a bases-loaded walk in the sixth that had given the Nats a 4-3 lead.

Morning briefing: The games begin

February, 22, 2013

FIRST PITCH: Let the games begin.

The Mets play an intrasquad game at noon today at Tradition Field (admission: $6). Scheduled to pitch: Gonzalez Germen, LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Rice, Collin McHugh, Elvin Ramirez, Greg Burke, Robert Carson, Brandon Lyon and Pedro Feliciano.

“In our particular situation, we’ve got decisions to make, I’ve got to start seeing people play,” Terry Collins said. “And I’m anxious to see them play. Yeah, I want to get started.”

Friday’s news reports:

• Union chief Michael Weiner made his annual visit to Mets camp to speak with players Thursday. Speaking with the media afterward, Weiner said about the Mets’ payroll: “Everybody would like to see the Mets as a competitive team. And it’s going to require a higher payroll.” Weiner also asserted David Wright would have received a more lucrative contract had he tested free agency. Writes Mike Puma in the Post on the Mets’ payroll comment:

A team official responded to Weiner’s criticism by saying the union chief should check the average payrolls of the last three World Series winners. The Giants (2010), Cardinals (2011) and Giants (2012) averaged about $106 million in payroll in claiming the last three world championships.

Read more on Weiner’s visit in Newsday, the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Times, Record and

Courtesy of New York Mets
Ron Darling Bobblehead Day is coming to Citi Field on April 21.

Jenrry Mejia is due to land Friday morning and be at camp by midday now that his visa issue is resolved. Dan Warthen and Wally Backman both project Mejia as a future reliever, but the right-hander will be a starting pitcher again this year … for now. Read more at

• The Mets announced their full 2013 promotional schedule, which includes five bobblehead giveaways: Ron Darling (April 21), John Franco (May 25), Wright (June 30), Dwight Gooden (July 21) and Tom Seaver (Aug. 25).

• Bobby Valentine reportedly will be the next athletic director at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. Read more in the Connecticut Post.

• Ex-Met Chris Young signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals. Read more in The Washington Post.

• Mets farmhand Francisco Pena will play for his father Tony Pena on the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic.

• Grantland is not a fan of the Mets’ outfield. On that topic, columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post found humor that Bobby Bonilla, who is getting $1.2 million annually from the Mets in deferred payments, visited the club on Thursday. Writes Vaccaro:

The highest-paid outfielder in the room wears a green polo shirt, blue slacks, white cross-trainers and about 40 or so pounds from his last listed playing weight. Retirement seems to be agreeing with Bobby Bo, who last played for the Mets in 1999 (both baseball and, somewhat more famously, clubhouse cards) and who last played for anyone in 2001 and now works for the Players’ Association.

• Neil Best in Newsday chats with SNY analyst Bobby Ojeda.

• Collins has good reason to be concerned about the Mets’ baserunning the past two seasons, Jared Diamond notes in the Journal. Writes Diamond:

Their runners went from first base to third base on singles just 25.2 percent of the time last season, which ranked 23rd in baseball. They finished dead last in a statistic the website Baseball-Reference calls "bases taken," which counts the number of bases teams advance on, among other things, fly balls, wild pitches and passed balls. Those elements of baserunning have less to do with pure speed than they do instincts and hustle.

Frank Francisco will begin tossing a baseball Monday after suffering elbow inflammation early in camp, Collins confirmed. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Daily News.

John Buck offers his take on the various starting pitchers to Anthony DiComo at On Jonathon Niese, Buck said: "I like his cutter. It's something that wasn't really in my mind when I faced him on the other side. But now that I've seen a lot more film and concentrated on that aspect, and [hearing] him talk about how that makes him feel comfortable … it stuck out to me."

Steve Moore/Associated PressIke Davis
• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger profiles Ike Davis, who had an extremely slow start in 2012 en route to a 32-homer season. "Every time you come back from an injury and you don’t do very well for a long period of time, you’re like, ‘Did I lose what I once had?’” Davis told Castillo. "You start second-guessing yourself. Then, obviously, I started feeling better and I said, ‘OK, I can do this again. I didn’t lose my talent or lose my skill.’”

• On Sunday against the University of Michigan, Dillon Gee will pitch in his first game since undergoing emergency surgery at last year’s All-Star break to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder. Gee did get on a bullpen mound in September at Citi Field to allay concerns. “I accomplished what I wanted to last year, and that was to be able to come here with some peace of mind,” Gee told Andrew Keh in the Times. “Now I feel like I’m ready to compete again.”

Said Warthen to Keh: “His delivery is a little bit awkward, a little bit rusty, and his command isn’t where he wants it. But his hand feels good, his arm feels good and he can actually feel the baseball out of his hand. He’ll iron out a couple of delivery issues, and we’ll be right where he needs to be.”

• Collins said left-hander Josh Edgin worked on a sinker during the offseason that should make him more effective against righty hitters. Lefties hit .164 and righties hit .263 against Edgin during his rookie season. Read more in the Post.

• Feliciano, who pitches in today’s intrasquad game, tells Kristie Ackert in the Daily News about his shoulder: “I am ready now, ready to pitch. There is nothing there. It is strong. It’s stronger than it was before, because before the surgery and after, I have to work on it. I pitched in Puerto Rico in winter ball and I am ready to go.”

• Wright tells columnist John Harper in the Daily News he is “looking to become a better leader.”

Lucas Duda will receive heavy playing time early in Grapefruit League play because he is working on a new stance, Collins said. Mike Kerwick in the Record speaks with Duda about the challenge of playing the outfield for a natural first baseman.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear in Flushing makes the case for retiring Nos. 31 and 17 -- and quasi-retiring some other significant digits. … Mets Police would like to see a TV show in which Howie Rose interviews ex-Mets. … Contributors to Rising Apple predict which Mets player is most likely to break out in 2013.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever J.J. Putz turns 36.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should Jenrry Mejia be a starter or reliever?

Please use the comments section to weigh in

Mets morning briefing 10.1.12

October, 1, 2012
ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones had a quiet weekend before capacity crowds at Turner Field, but the Atlanta Braves nonetheless beat Jenrry Mejia and the Mets, 6-2, Sunday to win the rubber game. Playoff-bound Atlanta, which staved off division-title elimination for another day, won its major league-record 23rd straight game started by Kris Medlen.

The Mets, who had their rookies dress up as referees with skimpy black skirts for the trip to Miami, now open their final series of the season tonight in Miami. Jeurys Familia makes his first major league start tonight in Miami. Familia (0-0, 8.64 ERA) opposes Josh Johnson (8-14, 3.81) at 7:10 p.m. at Marlins Park.

Chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon is due to meet the Mets in Miami, according to Star-Ledger beat writer Andy McCullough.

Monday's news reports:

Marc Serota/Getty Images
David Wright wants insight into the Mets' plans for the future before signing an extension.

• In an exclusive interview with, David Wright expressed uncertainty about his future with the ballclub. He indicated he wants his next contract to take him to retirement. He also noted he would not be inclined to discuss an extension during next season -- so it's an agreement this offseason or he's headed to free agency. Read the news story and additional comments.

Tim Marchman in the Journal makes the case for trading Wright this offseason. Writes Marchman:

A going-nowhere team like the Mets has every reason to move a valuable player like Wright for young talent. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, it no longer will be possible for one team to seriously outbid others for amateur draft picks or international prospects. Recent successes like Matt Harvey aside, the Mets don't have a great record of scouting or developing players, so if they want good, cheap young ones around whom to build a winner, some of them are probably going to have to come from outside the organization.

There are really only two reasons not to trade Wright. One is that it would damage the team's hopes of contending during what's left of his prime, but they don't have any. The other is that it would outrage fans and leave Citi Field quieter than a toaster, but as the Journal has reported, it already is. The only way to win back the public will be to win, and even if the Wilpon family announces tomorrow that the team has been sold to a mad Russian oil tycoon, that's going to take a couple of years, by which time Wright likely won't be what he was.

Josh Thole was struck in the head with a fourth-inning foul ball off Medlen's bat. Despite initial concerns, Thole appears relatively unscathed. He may have escaped with no more than a cut on the back of his right ear. Read more in the Record.

Sandy Alderson joined the Mets on Sunday for the final four games of the season. He planned to meet with Terry Collins today or tomorrow in part to discuss the fate of the coaching staff. A team source told Post beat writer Mike Puma it would be surprising for pitching coach Dan Warthen to be dismissed.

Kevin Liles/US Presswire
Chipper Jones again was treated royally Sunday by Braves fans.

• Mejia allowed a three-run homer to David Ross and was charged with four runs in five innings. Still, the performance was reviewed positively by Collins. Mejia began the year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He is due to pitch in winter ball as a starter in his native Dominican Republic for Licey, but will be capped at 20 to 25 innings, Collins indicated. Read more in Newsday, the Star-Ledger, Post, Record and Daily News.

• Chipper finished the weekend 1-for-10 with two walks. His final plate appearance against the Mets -- and, for that matter, his final regular-season plate appearance at Turner Field, since the Braves close the season on the road -- ended with Justin Hampson walking him.

"The word that I’ve been using all week is overwhelming," Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his treatment from Braves fans. "I don’t know if I’m worthy of all this. I have my faults and whatnot, but when you’ve got that much love in the building, you feel like you’re 10 feet tall. And when 50,000 people are chanting your name at the same time, that’s pretty cool. It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. I got chill bumps more than a few times today. And, as much as I tried to shrug it off and downplay it, there were a couple times where it was a little too much to handle.” Read more in the Times.

• Familia and Elvin Ramirez are expected to pitch in relief in winter ball for Gigantes in the Dominican Republic.

TRIVIA: Who leads the Marlins in steals this season?

Sunday's answer: Wright drove in the lone run on Opening Day, in a 1-0 win against the Braves on April 5. The RBI single came against Tommy Hanson in the sixth inning and plated Andres Torres.

View from Atlanta: Mets' rookie dress-up

September, 30, 2012

Adam Rubin
While the veterans wore NFL jerseys, Mets rookies were forced to dress as NFL replacement referees -- with skimpy skirts. That included Jenrry Mejia.

Adam Rubin
Jeurys Familia, who starts Monday, and reliever Elvin Ramirez got into the act as well.

Adam Rubin
Collin McHugh poses after getting into his travel gear.

Rapid Reaction: Braves 6, Mets 2

September, 30, 2012
WHAT IT MEANS: Chipper Jones’ torment of the Mets is over.

The longtime nemesis played his 245th and final regular-season game against the Mets on Sunday afternoon as the Atlanta Braves won, 6-2, at Turner Field. He went 1-for-2 with two walks in the series finale after going hitless in eight at-bats during the opening two games.

Chipper's final plate appearance -- also his final in the regular season at Turner Field overall -- came in the seventh against Justin Hampson. After acknowledging a a standing ovation from partisan Braves crowd by raising his helmet, Hampson walked him.

For his career, Jones hit .309 (265-for-858) with 49 homers and 159 RBIs against the Mets. Fans chanted "Chip-per, Chip-per" as the game concluded.

Sunday also belonged to Kris Medlen, who limited the Mets to an unearned run in six innings. The Braves won a game started by Medlen for the 23rd straight time, the longest streak in modern-era major league history, passing 22-game win streaks in games started by Whitey Ford with the Yankees (1950, ’53) and Carl Hubbell with the New York Giants (1936-37).

Mets starter Jenrry Mejia surrendered a three-run homer to David Ross in the second inning and ultimately was charged with four runs in five innings as his ERA swelled to 5.63. The righty-hitting catcher Ross is due to be a free agent after the season.

Collin McHugh, pitching in his native Atlanta, allowed two runs in an inning of relief.

BAD BREAK: Josh Thole, sitting in the dugout on a day off, appeared to be struck with a foul ball off the bat of Medlen in the fourth inning. Cameras showed Thole rubbing the right side of his head after the shot found its way over protective netting and into the dugout. Thole has endured at least four concussions in his professional career, including one this season after receiving a jolt from Ty Wigginton in a plate collision in Philadelphia.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets, donning football jerseys of their favorite NFL teams (or alma mater Georgia Tech in the case of Mike Nickeas), head to Miami for their final series of the season.

Jeurys Familia, who is due to pitch as a reliever along with Elvin Ramirez for Gigantes in the Dominican Republic this winter, makes his first major league start in the series opener. Familia (0-0, 8.64 ERA) opposes right-hander Josh Johnson (8-14, 3.81) in Monday’s 7:10 p.m. game.

R.A. Dickey opposes right-hander Jacob Turner on Tuesday. Jeremy Hefner starts the finale against left-hander Mark Buehrle Wednesday.

Mets morning briefing 9.4.12

September, 4, 2012
Collin McHugh's second major league start lasted only four innings, with McHugh surrendering four runs. The drama, though, came late. With the Mets trailing by a run in the ninth, Andres Torres seemingly led off with a double. But at the instruction of injured ex-Met Carlos Beltran, the St. Louis Cardinals successfully appealed to rookie ump Dave Rackley that Torres missed the first-base bag. The Mets, deprived of the baserunner, lost shortly thereafter, 5-4, on Monday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Daniel Murphy jaws at first base ump Dave Rackley after the final out.

Two-run homers by Kelly Shoppach and Daniel Murphy had clawed the Mets within a run. Despite only 33 at-bats as a Met, Shoppach now has three homers with the club, more than the combined total of Josh Thole (one), Mike Nickeas (one) and Rob Johnson (none). Murphy, meanwhile, produced his first extra-base hit in his past 22 games (18 starts).

Rackley and crew chief Dale Scott stood by the call, despite vehement protest from the Mets. The crew noted neither Torres nor first base coach Tom Goodwin initially complained about the call.

Rackley told Terry Collins he would not have made the ruling had he not been positive it was correct.

"He went over the front corner with his toe and it just kicked dirt up onto the base," Rackley said.

Said Scott after reviewing the video with his crew: "It was exactly what [Rackley] described. His foot went over [the bag], the toes hit the ground, the heel never did [hit the bag]. And did you see where [Rackley] was? He was right there to make the call."

Countered Murphy: "We had access to video. I'm sure you guys did, too. So we know the answer to that."

Now, Matt Harvey makes potentially his second-to-last start of 2012 in Game 2 of the series, tonight at 8:15. Harvey, whose innings cap will be reached with two to three more starts, opposes left-hander Jaime Garcia (3-6, 4.52 ERA).

Tuesday's news reports:

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

Mike Janes/Associated Press
Fred Lewis, 31, has been rewarded for a solid season at Buffalo with a September call-up.

• With Buffalo's season complete, the Mets have summoned six additional minor leaguers to St. Louis: Jordany Valdespin, right-handers Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Elvin Ramirez, left-hander Justin Hampson and outfielder Fred Lewis. Buffalo manager Wally Backman is due to join the Mets on Sunday. Zach Lutz, Nickeas and McHugh already had been added -- giving the Mets nine extra players in total.

Dillon Gee joined the Mets in St. Louis. He already has been cleared to begin tossing a baseball following surgery to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger reviews Harvey's early success, including the influence of former major league pitcher Don Carman on the mental side of the rookie's game.

"Sometimes in the minors, it was, 'I have to get this guy out. I have to go seven innings, eight innings, and completely dominate this game in order to get to the big leagues,'" Harvey said, according to Brian Costa in the Journal, while constrasting minor league struggles with major league success. "Whereas here, it's, 'I have to win.'"

Read about Harvey's impending shutdown after two to three more starts in the Post.

Stephen Strasburg's final start of the season will be Sept. 12 against the Mets at Citi Field.

• Buffalo was rained out at Lehigh Valley on Monday in what is expected to be its final game affiliated with the Mets. Las Vegas has been widely speculated as the Mets' next Triple-A home, but a minor league source said do not rule out Nashville over Las Vegas if the Mets have a choice between those markets. The Brewers currently are affiliated with Nashville and may re-up, though. Meanwhile, Brooklyn sliced its magic number to one with two games remaining to clinch the New York-Penn League's wild card. Like Buffalo, Binghamton and Savannah completed their seasons Monday. St. Lucie opens the Florida State League playoffs tonight at Jupiter. Read the full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: Who preceded Tony La Russa as Cardinals manager?

Monday's answer: Jason Bay's first grand slam as a Met came on June 28, 2011 at Detroit. He and Beltran both had slams that day as the Mets snapped a historic streak in which their opponents had hit an MLB-record 18 consecutive unanswered slams.

Mets to add 6 from Bisons

September, 3, 2012

Associated Press/US Presswire
The final wave of call-ups from Buffalo includes (l to r) Jenrry Mejia, Justin Hampson and Jordany Valdespin.
With Triple-A Buffalo's season ending Monday afternoon, the Mets announced their intention to add six players Tuesday in St. Louis: right-handers Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Elvin Ramirez, left-hander Justin Hampson, outfielder Fred Lewis and Jordany Valdespin.

With Matt Harvey capped at two to three more starts because of an innings limit, Mejia should see time in the rotation down the stretch.

Lewis, 31, is hitting .294 with 13 homers, 45 RBIs and 25 steals in 108 games with Buffalo. He played parts of six major league seasons with the San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds.

The Mets already had added corner infielder Zach Lutz, catcher Mike Nickeas and Collin McHugh.

Adam Rubin
Matt den Dekker will not receive a promotion, but should debut in 2013.

The group bypassed for a promotion included Zack Wheeler, 39-year-old left-hander C.J. Nitkowski, outfielder/third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo and center fielder Matt den Dekker.

Tuiasosopo (.242, 12 HR, 57 RBIs) had a champion in Wally Backman.

Den Dekker does not need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason for Rule 5 protection, since he was drafted in 2010. A strong defensive outfielder, den Dekker hit .340 during the first half at Double-A Binghamton, but struck out 90 times through 295 at-bats in Triple-A, so he needs improvement with his plate discipline.

“His play in the outfield is very, very good. He’s an All-Star caliber center fielder," Backman said. "His power numbers are the same as they were last year. It seems like it takes him half a year to figure it out [at a higher level]. St. Lucie to Double-A, he only hit .235 last year. He leads the league this year in Double-A, hitting .340. So he figured that out. And he’s hitting .220 now. But his outfield play is incredible. He’s a speed guy."

Wheeler hit his innings limit for the season and should make his major league debut at some point in 2013.

The Mets, as expected, did not promote anyone directly from Binghamton. Wilmer Flores, already on the 40-man roster, would have been the primary consideration. He again will play second and third base in winter ball in his native Venezuela with Margarita.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis did not receive a call-up because he is out for the season with a partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot.

Mets morning briefing 9.3.12

September, 3, 2012
Making his first start in a week, Jason Bay delivered his third grand slam as a Met -- a first-inning shot against Mark Buehrle. The Mets went on to beat the Miami Marlins, 5-1, Sunday to sweep the three-game series.

The Mets now play a Labor Day matinee in St. Louis, with Collin McHugh trying to build on the seven scoreless innings he tossed in his major league debut against the Colorado Rockies. McHugh opposes right-hander Joe Kelly (4-6, 3.61 ERA) at 2:15 p.m. ET.

Monday's news reports:

• Bay had only his fourth two-hit game of the season. The Mets' bullpen tossed four scoreless innings in relief of Chris Young and has now limited opponents to one earned run in its past 22 1/3 innings. The Mets swept a series for the first time since June 20, against the Baltimore Orioles at Citi Field. Read game recaps in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News and Times.

Jenrry Mejia allowed six runs in six innings in Triple-A Buffalo's 6-0 loss at Lehigh Valley. St. Lucie posted its club-record 83rd victory in its regular-season finale and opens the playoffs Tuesday at Jupiter. Brooklyn lost to Staten Island, 1-0, to fall into a first-place tie in the New York-Penn League wild-card standings with three games remaining. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.

• Mejia last appeared in the majors in September 2010, before Tommy John surgery. Read about his comeback here. Fellow expected call-up Jeurys Familia may pitch an inning of relief today in Buffalo's finale. The other players expected to join the Mets (along with already promoted Zach Lutz, Mike Nickeas and now McHugh): Jordany Valdespin, Fred Lewis, Elvin Ramirez and possibly Matt Tuiasosopo.

TRIVIA: Against which team was Bay's first grand slam as a Met?

Sunday's answer: Expected call-up Fred Lewis played parts of four seasons for the San Francisco Giants.

Mets morning briefing 9.2.12

September, 2, 2012
Trailing by two runs entering the ninth after being stymied by Josh Johnson, the Mets rallied for four runs and beat the Miami Marlins, 5-3, Saturday night. Lucas Duda had an RBI single, then Kelly Shoppach cleared the bases on a single that was misplayed by Justin Ruggiano in center field.

The Mets aim for the sweep this afternoon when Chris Young (3-7, 4.64 ERA) opposes left-hander Mark Buehrle (12-11, 3.62).

Sunday's news reports:

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post advocates trading David Wright and R.A. Dickey this offseason. Writes Sherman:

In the coming weeks, general manager Sandy Alderson will present ownership three avenues the Mets could follow this offseason: 1. Go the Dodgers route. Expand payroll greatly to try and purchase your way out of a variety of problems. 2. Extend David Wright and, perhaps, R.A. Dickey on long-term contracts, but essentially follow a similar course to the present: Continue to grow the farm, use about $10 million in available funds in a roughly $90 million-ish payroll to address needs and just keep running out the clock on the horrible contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana. 3. Think bigger picture by trading Wright, Dickey and Jonathon Niese to add eight-to-10 prospects and truly begin to address what has long been the Mets’ downfall: Lack of depth up and down the organization. I would pick Door No. 3, because the Mets can’t lie to themselves any longer that they are close to success.

That said, Sherman expects No. 2 -- trying to re-sign Wright with a status quo payroll while biding time until contracts for Jason Bay and Johan Santana come off the books.

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

Zack Wheeler completed his 2012 season by limiting Lehigh Valley to one run in five innings and the Bisons beat the IronPigs, 6-3. St. Lucie posted its 82nd win, breaking a 12-year-old club record. Brandon Nimmo homered and Brooklyn maintained a one-game lead over Batavia in the New York-Penn League wild-card standings. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.

Mike Nickeas and Zach Lutz joined the Mets on Saturday. Collin McHugh is due to be promoted to face the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday at Busch Stadium. The other September call-ups, who will join the Mets after Buffalo's season ends Monday, are expected to be Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Elvin Ramirez, Jordany Valdespin, Fred Lewis and possibly Matt Tuiasosopo,

Terry Collins believes Dickey is Cy Young worthy. "We've had a tough time scoring runs, especially in the second half of the season, and he continues to win," Collins said, according to Anthony Rieber in Newsday. "We are [eight] games below .500 and he's [13] games over .500. That says a lot. ... I know we've had a collapse in the second half, but when you look at what he's done the entire year, he's racked up numbers against every team in baseball. No matter who he's faced, he's pitched great."

Seth Berkman in the Times looks at Collins' playing career, which included six seasons in Triple-A, but no major league experience. Writes Berkman:

Collins, who as a minor leaguer played shortstop, third base, first base and outfield and even pitched in six games (0-0, 1.00 earned run average, two strikeouts), said he stuck around the minors out of passion more than a belief that he would ever reach the majors. “I had one year where the big club, the Dodgers, had some injuries and I thought maybe, due to the fact that I played all over the place, I had a shot, but I didn’t and that was fine,” he said. “My years in Triple-A, I was not an everyday player. Backup players in Triple-A, you got to be in the right place at the right time.” During his last few years with Albuquerque, in the early 1980s, Collins was a player-coach. The Dodgers had initiated a system for developing older players into managers, who could also fill in for a game or two if a player was injured. Collins was recruited.

TRIVIA: For which major league team did the expected call-up Fred Lewis play for parts of four seasons?

Saturday's answer: Ike Davis had the Mets' first homer at Marlins Park, off Buehrle in the Amazin's first game there, on May 11.



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