New York Mets: Frank Viola

Morning Briefing: Day 2!

February, 22, 2015
Feb 22
6:58
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: It will not be a sleepy Sunday morning at the Mets’ spring-training complex.

After all, it’s Day 2 of official workouts.

Players head outdoors at roughly 10 a.m.

Sunday’s news reports:

Matt Harvey was excited after going through his first official workout with fellow pitchers Saturday. He is due to throw a bullpen session on Sunday, then repeat that two days later. That should be the final step before he faces batters for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery. That session may come as soon as Thursday.


Adam RubinMatt Harvey


Harvey will pitch during the opening five games of the regular season, Terry Collins said, although that does not necessarily preclude Harvey also starting the home opener. Also, the Mets prefer capping Harvey’s early starts at 85 pitches or so as opposed to skipping starts, according to the manager.

What can the Mets expect from Harvey this season? A leading medical expert regarding Tommy John surgery says there is a six-month period once game action resumes in which the pitcher typically needs to work up to his past performance. The good news: The Mets may pattern Harvey’s return from the procedure after Adam Wainwright’s. And Wainwright threw 198 T innings during the regular season and another 15 in the playoffs in his first season back.

Meanwhile, Harvey dismissed any tension existing with the Mets during his rehab. He essentially called the flaps over his exposure -- including doing a radio interview during a game -- a media creation. Still, columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post didn’t like the attention-seeking while idle. Writes Davidoff:

This naturally evokes the legendary line that Ed Wade, then the Phillies’ general manager, used to describe his noisy ace Curt Schilling: “Every fifth day, Curt’s our horse. The other four days, he’s our horse’s ass.”

Harvey hasn’t approached Schilling’s toxicity level. Then again, he hasn’t approached Schilling’s accomplishments, either. It feels like we all -- the media, Mets fans, Mets employees and Harvey himself -- need to remind ourselves Harvey has pitched in 36 major league games, totaling 237 / innings, numbers Nolan Ryan frequently exceeded in one season. He has yet to complete a major league campaign, starting line to finish line.

Read more on Harvey in the Times, Post, Record, Journal, Newsday and at MLB.com.

• Collins said the Mets are a playoff-caliber team in 2015. Read more at MLB.com and NJ.com and in the Daily News and Record.

• Despite winter pronouncements of it being Bobby Parnell's job to lose, Jenrry Mejia will have a chance to remain the closer once Parnell is activated from the DL. Read more in Newsday and at NJ.com.

• It is “up in the air” who will be the leadoff man between Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson. Also, Collins sees merit in batting Daniel Murphy down in the order -- say No. 6 -- over in the two-hole. Read more in the Post and at NJ.com.

• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Lagares. The Gold Glove winner believes he is capable of stealing 25 to 30 bases. His favorite outfielders to watch are close friend Carlos Gomez as well as Andrew McCutchen. His favorite movie is “Fast and Furious.”

• Versatile Eric Campbell is working out with catchers and will be available for emergency duty behind the plate this season.

Travis d'Arnaud discussed the impact of a bone spur in his right elbow on his 2014 throwing.

• An ill Zack Wheeler missed Saturday’s first official workout.

• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News notes that it took Frank Cashen until Year 5 of his tenure as GM before the Mets became a winning team. Sandy Alderson is now entering his fifth season.

• No surprise, but Collins confirmed that Dillon Gee would be the probable odd-man out of the rotation if there are no injuries or trades. Read more at NJ.com.

• Reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom said he delayed his honeymoon in Hawaii at the Mets’ request to be available for the award announcement. Read more on deGrom in Newsday, NJ.com, the Daily News and at MLB.com.

David Wright will address the media on Sunday, but Collins already has insisted the captain’s balky left shoulder is healthy.

• Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin has an uphill battle to stick as a Met. The only player to last a season and officially become Mets property via that draft in the past 20 years is Pedro Beato.

• Often critical of Ruben Tejada, Collins paid the early reporting infielder a compliment Saturday.

• Frank Viola offered a comparison between lefty relief prospect Jack Leathersich and ’80s-era Met Sid Fernandez.

• Apparently, Steve Gelbs has never been officially named as Kevin Burkhardt’s replacement for SNY’s Mets telecast. Neil Best in Newsday reports the announcement is coming Monday.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report wonders if the Mets’ confidence in the playoffs is optimism or wishful thinking.

BIRTHDAYS: J.J. Putz turns 38. ... Minor-league right-hander Tim Peterson is 24.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: What should the Mets’ batting order be this season?

Jack Leathersich reminds Viola of El Sid

February, 21, 2015
Feb 21
9:04
PM ET

Adam RubinJack Leathersich takes part in a pitcher fielding drill on Saturday at Mets camp.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola offered a 1980s-era Met as a comparison when discussing 24-year-old lefty reliever Jack Leathersich.

“You remember Sid Fernandez? He’s very much like Sid,” Viola said Saturday. “The ball comes out of his hand, it looks like it’s coming 100 mph. And you look at the radar gun, it’s 92. But it just sneaks up on you because of the angle of the arm slot.”

Leathersich, a fifth-round pick in 2011 out of UMass-Lowell, has gaudy career strikeout totals. He has K’d 334 batters in 197 1/3 professional innings. That’s a 15.2 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate.

The area for improvement, though, is control. Las Vegas manager Wally Backman recently compared Leathersich to former reliever Mitch Williams, whose nickname happened to be “Wild Thing.” Leathersich has walked 36 in 37 1/3 career Triple-A innings.

“All he’s got to do is slow down, take a deep breath and slow the pace of the game down, he’s going to be fine,” Viola said.

Said Leathersich: “My No. 1 thing this year is just to throw more strikes -- throw more offspeed for strikes. I’m not really worried about the strikeouts. I’m worried about getting the walks down, getting ahead of batters. I’ve seen in the past when I’ve struggled a little bit in Vegas, it’s getting behind guys and walking guys. So this year my motivation is to keep my same spice on the mound with definitely throwing more strikes.”

Viola agreed that getting ahead of hitters is the key. The best way to tempt batters to chase fastballs up and out of the strike zone for Ks is to have them defensive because they are behind in the count.

“Hitters aren’t going to chase balls when they’re 1-0, 2-0 all the time,” Viola said. “If he’s able to do that, his strikeout totals might not be as drastic as they are. But they will still stay [up] there.”

Mets set full-season coaching staffs

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
12:36
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Here are the minor league staffs for the Mets' full-season teams:

LAS VEGAS 51s (Triple-A)

Adam RubinWally Backman again leads Las Vegas during the 2015 season.


Wally Backman, manager
Frank Viola, pitching coach
Jack Voigt, hitting coach
Joe Golia, athletic trainer
Jon Cioffi, strength and conditioning coach

BINGHAMTON METS (Double-A)
Pedro Lopez, manager
Glenn Abbott, pitching coach
Luis Natera, hitting coach
Deb Iwanow, athletic trainer
Dane Inderrieden, strength and conditioning coach

ST. LUCIE METS (high-A)
Luis Rojas, manager
Phil Regan, pitching coach
Joel Fuentes, hitting coach
Matt Hunter, athletic trainer
Tristan McLaren, strength and conditioning coach

SAVANNAH SAND GNATS (low-A)
Jose Leger, manager
Marc Valdes, pitching coach
Valentino Pascucci, hitting coach
Eric Velazquez, athletic trainer
Kory Wan, strength and conditioning coach

Wally's Vegas staff set with Viola, Voigt

January, 9, 2015
Jan 9
2:00
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Frank Viola is due to return to Wally Backman's Triple-A staff as pitching coach, while Jack Voigt will take over as hitting coach for the Las Vegas club, a source told ESPNNewYork.com.

Backman, who took over as manager of Licey in the Dominican Republic in late November, will be the Mets' Triple-A manager for the fourth consecutive season.

Viola will be in his second season as the 51s' pitching coach.

Voigt succeeds George Greer as Las Vegas hitting coach. Greer, passed over for the major league hitting coach gig, left for the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

Voigt spent the past four seasons as the organization's outfield and baserunning coordinator. He is entering his 10th season overall with the Mets. He served as Triple-A Buffalo's hitting coach in 2010. He played six seasons in the majors, with Baltimore, Texas, Milwaukee and Oakland.

Twins interview, pass on Viola as coach

November, 20, 2014
11/20/14
12:46
PM ET

Adam RubinFrank Viola is expected to remain pitching coach for Triple-A Las Vegas.
NEW YORK -- Frank Viola interviewed by phone for the vacant Minnesota Twins pitching coach position, but will not be hired, he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Viola, who starred for the Twins before a 1989 trade to the Mets, expects to return to Triple-A Las Vegas as Wally Backman's pitching coach.

“Things have gone well in that organization," Viola told the Pioneer Press about the Mets, "but I’ve always been a Twin a heart. That never leaves you.

"I thought it was a good scenario, but people make choices," he continued, referring to being passed over for the Minnesota job. "That’s their prerogative. One thing the Twins have done, from the manager to the coaches, is they’ve really done a long process. Hopefully they get it right. The Twins deserve to get a winner again.

“It’s very tough for guys to get a foot in the door. You have all these other guys recycling all over the place. But there’s always a reason for everything. Hopefully I’m meant for better things down the line with somebody else. Right now the Mets are the ones who believe in me. I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”

Morning Briefing: The drive for 89 begins

August, 31, 2014
8/31/14
5:28
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: David Wright was pragmatic in the postgame clubhouse after Saturday’s loss officially ensured the Mets would not reach 90 wins.

“This season hasn’t gone the way we would’ve liked it to,” Wright said. “We all put forth expectations for ourselves, and whether it’s individual or the team, when you don’t meet those expectations, of course it’s disappointing.”

On Sunday, the Mets (63-73) play their final game in the season series against the Phillies (62-73). Fourth place is at stake as Dillon Gee (5-6, 3.77 ERA) opposes fellow right-hander A.J. Burnett (7-14, 4.30 ERA) at 1:10 p.m.

Philadelphia has occupied last place since June 28.

Not only would a Mets win keep the Phillies in the basement, it would give the Mets 13 wins against Philadelphia in 2014 -- matching their most ever in a season series between the clubs.

Meanwhile, Sunday also marks the deadline for players to be traded and be eligible for the acquiring team’s postseason roster.

Sunday’s news reports:

Bartolo Colon allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings and Curtis Granderson left the bases loaded in the seventh with a strikeout against Antonio Bastardo as the Phillies beat the Mets, 7-2, on Saturday. Dilson Herrera produced his first major league hit with a seventh-inning single against Phillies starter Jerome Williams.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record, Times and at MLB.com.

R.A. Dickey, who never saw a microphone he didn’t love, told David Lennon in Newsday that the Mets should not be trying to muzzle Matt Harvey.

"I enjoyed telling the truth in conversations," Dickey told Lennon. "I didn't feel like I ever threw anybody under the bus, but I also didn't want to give the ‘SportsCenter’ answers because that's not what I was really believing. And Harvey's a lot like that. We may be similar in that. I remember how he was upset that nobody retaliated for David [Wright], and that's valid. I feel like he shouldn't be chastised for speaking his mind unless he's throwing people under the bus. That's a different thing."

• Tim Rohan in the Times writes about the bond between Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola and prospect Noah Syndergaard.

• Wally Backman expressed appreciation for being named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year.

“It’s an honor to get chosen by your colleagues. I’m thankful I got picked by my peers,” Backman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There’s no question Triple-A is the toughest level to manage at because of the player movement. That’s what makes it tough. There are so many different guys going back and forth.

“To win as many games as we have each year with as much movement as we’ve had, I’ve got to give the organization credit for giving us players to replace the ones who’ve gone to the majors.”

Columnist John Harper in the Daily News advocates Backman serving as Terry Collins’ bench coach next season. Writes Harper:

In that position he shouldn’t be regarded as a threat to Collins, especially given [Sandy] Alderson’s apparent lack of regard for Backman as a managerial candidate. And after all, if Collins is indeed the manager next season, he will be on a very short leash.

That is, if he doesn’t win he’ll be out, and perhaps quickly, regardless of who is perceived as a manager-in-waiting by the media or fans.

Read more on Backman in Newsday.

• Alderson told Anthony Rieber in Newsday that there is no hard-and-fast “330 rule,” even though Collins recently cited it. Collins had said the organization does not want a pitcher throwing more than 330 pitches in a three-start stretch.

"I think there's a rule of thumb," Alderson told Rieber. "I think if you go back and look at the numbers for some of our starters, it's not followed uniformly. So I'd say no, there's not a rule."

Ruben Tejada tells columnist George Willis in the Post he does not know what the future holds. “I know this is a business,” Tejada said. “Right now, I’m working for this team. But you never know whether you’re going to stay here or go to another team.”

• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News writes about Wright:

The Mets can only hope their 31-year-old captain’s power outage is the product of a bum shoulder since he is owed $107 million through 2020. Still, .264 with eight home runs is a horrific decline and intolerable for a No. 3 hitter. For all their pitching depth, the coming-into-their-own of Lucas Duda, Juan Lagares and Travis d'Arnaud, and the great promise of Dilson Herrera and Kevin Plawecki, the Mets cannot expect to be any less offensively challenged and inconsistent next year than they’ve been this year if Wright is not the 20-homer, 100-RBI No. 3 hitter [of] most of his first nine years with them.

• Rieber in Newsday cites the bullpen as a positive for the 2014 Mets.

• Jay Schreiber in the Times offers his take on the Mets’ 90-win mantra.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear seeks Citi Field solace in overpriced beer.

BIRTHDAYS: Ramon Ramirez turns 33. ... Claudell Washington was born on this date in 1954. ... Kingsport infielder Pedro Perez turns 20.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets hold off the Phillies for fourth place in the division?

Morning Briefing: 2 days until deadline

July, 29, 2014
7/29/14
5:15
AM ET
FIRST PITCH: On a roll, the Mets turn to Dillon Gee on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. to face the Philadelphia Phillies.

Gee (4-3, 3.49 ERA) has allowed 10 runs in 10 innings in two starts since the All-Star break. He opposes left-hander Cole Hamels (5-5, 2.72).

Tuesday’s news reports:

• Sandy Alderson said the Mets consummating a deal before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline is “unlikely.” The GM went on to suggest that trading Bartolo Colon might be more sensible during the offseason, when teams may view the $11 million owed to Colon in 2015 a bargain relative to the price of a comparably talented free-agent pitcher.

Whether for Colon, Phillies starter A.J. Burnett or otherwise, scouts from the Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers were among those in attendance at Citi Field on Monday.

Writes columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post on the trade topic:

Let’s make this perfectly clear. Don’t trade any of the young pitchers, Mets. There is too much to lose. Dealing Bartolo Colon, however, for an offensive piece is a must.

Read more in the Post, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.

• Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports reports the Mets would be willing to trade Noah Syndergaard in a deal for Troy Tulowitzki. Writes Passan:


Icon SMIThere are conflicting reports about what the Mets would be willing to surrender in a deal for Troy Tulowitzki.


The St. Louis Cardinals expressed significant interest in him last offseason. They continue to reach out to the Rockies, as have the New York Mets, who are prepared to offer top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard in a deal for the 29-year-old. And the response is: Not yet. We’re not ready to deal him. We want to hear it from him.

Which is to say: We want him to be the bad guy, not us. It’s a ludicrous way to run a business, of course, and it highlights how little confidence the Rockies have in themselves to make the sort of a deal that reinvigorates and reenergizes a ballclub in desperate need of both.

Columnist David Lennon in Newsday has a different understanding, at least with respect to Syndergaard. Writes Lennon:

Tulowitzki is everything the Mets need -- a power bat for the middle of the lineup and a Gold-Glove caliber shortstop. What could be more perfect? But there also is a reluctance to plow headfirst into such a trade, a feeling that after stockpiling so much pitching talent, it's not a deal that has to get done tomorrow.

That's why the Mets -- for now -- are holding back on including Noah Syndergaard in any package, for Tulo or otherwise, according to a source. Syndergaard is the name at the top of every team's wish list, and as long as the Mets won't budge on that demand, it's going to take longer to work around such an obstacle for a player like Tulowitzki -- if a compromise can be struck at all.


Brian D. Kersey/Getty ImagesJacob deGrom is co-NL Player of the Week.


Jacob deGrom shared the NL Player of the Week Award with Miami Marlins closer Steve Cishek. Given deGrom and the Mets’ overall success of late, Alderson indicated there are no immediate plans to dislodge deGrom from the rotation, even though an 185-inning cap is creeping closer. Read more in the Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.

• Colon took a scoreless effort into the eighth inning and Juan Lagares snapped an 0-for-17 drought with an opposite-field two-run double to cap a four-run first inning as the Mets beat the Phillies, 7-1, Monday at Citi Field. Travis d'Arnaud had a three-run homer and doubled twice as the Mets exceeded three runs for the first time in 10 games. With 56 games remaining, the Mets (51-55) trail the first-place Washington Nationals by 7 games. The Amazin’s are six games back of the second wild-card position, which is shared by the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants.

In what was his final start before the non-waiver trade deadline, Colon notched career win No. 199. On Sunday with the Mets -- or elsewhere, in the less-likely scenario he is traded -- Colon will try to join Juan Marichal (243) and Pedro Martinez (219) are the only Dominican-born pitchers to reach the 200-win plateau. Martinez notched No. 200 as a Met back in 2006.

Colon became only the second major league pitcher in the last five years to reach 10 wins in a season at age 41 order older, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Andy Pettitte won his 10th game last season when he was eight days older than Colon’s age Monday.

“I’m happy here,” Colon said through an interpreter regarding the trade deadline. “I would like to stay here, but it’s really not up to me.”

Read game recaps in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.

• Read more on d’Arnaud in the Star-Ledger.

Dana Eveland took a line drive to the left elbow and was forced to depart in the ninth inning. X-rays were negative.

Daisuke Matsuzaka's elbow injury, which landed him on the DL on Friday, is not severe. Matsuzaka should resume tossing a baseball within days, Terry Collins said.

• Alderson said he has “absolutely no recollection whatsoever” of a conversation with Tony La Russa during their Oakland days in which La Russa allegedly conveyed concerns about players using steroids. Read more in the Daily News, Newsday and Star-Ledger.

• Kevin Plawecki went 2-for-4 with an RBI in his return from vertigo and John Lannan tossed six scoreless innings in his season debut in Triple-A as Las Vegas beat Salt Lake, 5-3. Albert Cordero’s single in the 12th plated Gavin Cecchini as St. Lucie beat Dunedin, 7-6. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Tim Rohan in the Times profiles the introverted Lucas Duda.

• Mets bench coach Ricky Bones will serve as the pitching coach for Margarita in Venezuela during the winter season, a source told ESPNNewYork.com. Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez will serve as the bench coach for Dave Hudgens with Caracas.

• Will Sammon in Newsday catches up with Marlon Byrd, who could be traded by the Phillies in the next two days.

• Displeased with his ejection Sunday, Vegas pitching coach Frank Viola tweeted:

Amazing, my contemporaries are going into the Hall, and I'm getting tossed by kids who don't know a thing about the game. #gamegoingtohell

He then added in another tweet:

Tossed out of my 2nd AAAgame in a month! Can'topen mouth, otherwise I'm gone!;Still haven't said anything wrong, but been tossed twice!;BS!!

BIRTHDAYS: Felix Mantilla, who played 141 games for the original '62 Mets, was born on this date in 1934.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you believe Sandy Alderson that the Mets likely will make no deals by Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline?

Minors 7.27.14: Reynolds homer lifts 51s

July, 27, 2014
7/27/14
9:28
PM ET
LAS VEGAS 6, SALT LAKE 5: Matt Reynolds launched a three-run homer against Michael Kohn with one out in the seventh as the 51s overcame a 5-3 deficit. It marked only

lastname
Reynolds
Reynolds' third homer in 337 at-bats this season between Triple-A and Double-A. The Bees had scored three runs in the top half of the inning. The damage included a two-run double by ex-Met John Buck against Gonzalez Germen. Germen had inherited those runners from Miguel Socolovich. Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out eight in five innings. He threw 103 pitches (68 strikes). In his past two starts, Syndergaard has allowed one earned run in 11 1/3 innings. Chasen Bradford tossed a scoreless ninth for his second save despite allowing a leadoff single to Buck. After a sac bunt advanced pinch runner Zach Zaneski to second, Bradford struck out Roberto Lopez and John Hester. Pitching coach Frank Viola was ejected in the fifth inning by plate umpire Scott Mahoney. Box

TRENTON 7, BINGHAMTON 3: B-Mets starter Rainy Lara was tagged for seven runs on 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. The damage included a four-run sixth, capped by Jake Cave's two-run triple that staked the Thunder to a 7-2 lead. Jayce Boyd went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored in the loss. Binghamton had opened the scoring in the third inning against Manny Banuelos. Travis Taijeron walked and moved to second when Kai Gronauer reached on Banuelos' throwing error. Both runners then advanced on a wild pitch. Rylan Sandoval followed with an RBI groundout. Trenton answered in the bottom half against Lara on Cave's solo homer. The Thunder took a 3-1 lead in the fifth. Casey Stevenson produced a solo homer. Back-to-back singles by Ali Castillo and Cave then put runners on the corners with none out. Ben Gamel produced a sacrifice fly. Binghamton got a run back in the sixth against Danny Burawa. T.J. Rivera smacked a one-out single and moved to second on a passed ball. Boyd also singled to plate Rivera and cut the deficit to 3-2. Chase Huchingson and Adam Kolarek blanked Trenton over the final 2 1/3 innings. Banuelos went four innings and surrendered one unearned run. Box

DAYTONA 4, ST. LUCIE 3
DAYTONA 6, ST. LUCIE 5: After three Gulf Coast League appearances since returning from

lastname
Hefner
Tommy John surgery, Jeremy Hefner allowed three runs on three hits and four walks in three innings in Game 1 of a Florida State League doubleheader. All three runs against Hefner came in the first inning. St. Lucie evened the score with a three-run fifth that included consecutive RBI doubles by Gilbert Gomez and Eudy Pina. Wilfredo Tovar, who was just assigned to the FSL club as he returns from thumb-ligament surgery, added a game-tying RBI single. The Cubs broke the 3-all tie in the bottom half without the benefit of a hit. Jake Kuebler issued a leadoff walk to Marco Hernandez. Hernandez advanced to third on a wild pitch and passed ball and scored the decisive run on Kyle Schwarber's sacrifice fly. Kuebler (3-2) suffered the loss on the unearned run despite not yielding any other baserunners in three relief innings.

In Game 2, St. Lucie took a 5-4 lead with a three-run fifth inning that included Jared King's tiebreaking RBI double. However, T.J. Chism surrendered a two-run homer in the bottom half to Dan Vogelbach after inheriting a runner from Luis Cessa. Box 1, Box 2

LEXINGTON 5, SAVANNAH 2: Dario Alvarez uncorked a wild pitch in the seventh that allowed a runner inherited from Bret Mitchell to race home and even the score at 2. An inning later, Alvarez surrendered three more runs. He had a throwing error on a bunt attempt as the tiebreaking run scored. The Gnats had taken a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Matt Oberste tripled and scored on a passed ball. Starter John Gant allowed one run on seven hits and four walks in five innings in a no-decision. Box

KINGSPORT 11, BURLINGTON 3: Pedro Perez had a pair of doubles and drove in three runs as the K-Mets overcame an early 2-1 deficit. Starter Blake Taylor allowed three runs in six innings. Box

BROOKLYN 9, LOWELL 3: Michael Bernal went 4-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs off

lastname
Bernal
the bench after replacing injured first baseman Michael Katz as the Cyclones overcame an early 3-1 deficit. First-round pick Michael Conforto went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and walk to lift his average to .412. Conforto has hit safely in all nine games since signing and joining Brooklyn. Starter Marcos Molina allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks in six innings. Katz was injured in the third inning when Danny Mars hit a groundball into the hole between Katz and second baseman Tyler Moore. Moore was able to get to the ball and tried to retire Mars at first base. As Katz tried to catch Moore’s throw he twisted a knee. Box

Compiled with team reports

Morning Briefing: Almost back

July, 17, 2014
7/17/14
6:48
AM ET

Courtesy of New York MetsCurtis Granderson hosted a youth clinic Wednesday in Chicago at a stadium bearing his name.
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Tomorrow, tomorrow …

The second half is only a day away.

The Mets resume their season on Friday at 10:10 p.m. ET at Petco Park in San Diego. Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.99 ERA) opposes right-hander Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47).

Read the Mets-Padres series preview here.

Thursday’s news reports:

• Columnist David Lennon in Newsday assesses what Sandy Alderson ought to do at the trade deadline. Writes Lennon:

The determining factor there will be the market for Colon and [Daniel] Murphy, two players that could be very attractive to contending clubs -- and not necessarily cripple the Mets' own chances. Colon's contract, with $11 million coming to him next season, was practically designed to be moved. While he's been a solid placeholder for [Matt] Harvey, the Mets are now finding others pushing for permanent spots, like [Jacob] deGrom, and before too long, Noah Syndergaard. …

As for Murphy, it's strange that the Mets' lone representative at the All-Star Game may not even be on the team by August. But the argument to deal him may just be too compelling for Alderson to pass up -- peak value, a big arbitration bump this winter and a waiting replacement in Wilmer Flores, who is raking at Triple-A Las Vegas with a .368/.405/896 slash line over his last 10 games, including six homers.

• Mike Puma in the Post asks five questions for the second half.

• Marc Carig in Newsday looks at Travis d'Arnaud’s turnaround after a demotion to Las Vegas. Upon joining the Triple-A club, d’Arnaud had a two-hour meeting with Wally Backman, hitting coach George Greer and pitching coach Frank Viola.

"He just needed to slow things down and understand that he was good enough to be who they wanted him to be," Viola told Carig. "But he had to be good enough for him first. He was putting so much undue pressure on himself that he just had to take a little time to step back."

Said d’Arnaud: "If I have a good at-bat, I'm happy now. Before, if I had a productive out, if I lined out, I would get on myself so much because I was so worried about getting a hit. It helps me to stay even-keeled.”

• The Mets project attendance to rise over 2013, when they officially drew 2.14 million fans, Steven Marcus writes in Newsday.

"Halfway through the year we have our slight uptick in attendance already," chief revenue officer Lou DePaoli told the newspaper. "So, now it's a matter of what kind of hay we can make the rest of the season. The team has been playing well and the fans have reacted just in the last week or so. You saw some pretty nice crowds toward the end, and I'm sure if the team continues to play at that level we'll see more increased interest."

• Also in Newsday, Carig writes about young players fueling the Mets’ ascent, three key players for the second half and three key questions.

• Anthony DiComo at MLB.com assesses the state of the Mets as they enter the second half.

• Kristie Ackert in the Daily News hands out grades.

Curtis Granderson and his Grand Kids Foundation hosted a baseball clinic at Curtis Granderson Stadium at the University of Illinois at Chicago on Wednesday. Granderson recently contributed $5 million toward the college stadium, which also hosts Chicago youth organizations.

• Matt Ehalt in the Record reviews prospects who could be called up in the second half.

• Ehalt in the Record also looks at Granderson’s successful conclusion to the first half after a Jason Bay-like start to his Mets career. Granderson is hitting .274 with 13 homers and 36 RBIs since May 1.

• Allan Dykstra went hitless in three at-bats as the DH as the Pacific Coast League lost the Triple-A All-Star Game, 7-3, at Durham, N.C. Binghamton outfielder Kyle Johnson went 2-for-2 in the Eastern League All-Star Game, but his East squad lost, 5-2. Wuilmer Becerra went 5-for-5, but Kingsport lost to Burlington, 4-3. Taylor Teagarden caught all five innings in a rain-shortened win by the Gulf Coast League Mets. Read the minor-league recap here.

• Binghamton prospect Brandon Nimmo chats with WBNG.

From the bloggers … Blogging Mets thinks Jacob deGrom has pushed his way into the Rookie of the Year conversation.

BIRTHDAYS: The late Roy McMillan, a former shortstop for the Mets, was born on this date in 1929.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets sweep the Padres?

Farm report: Reynolds surges with B-Mets

June, 11, 2014
6/11/14
8:05
AM ET
NEW YORK -- One year certainly has made a dramatic difference for 23-year-old middle infielder Matt Reynolds, the Mets’ second-round pick in 2012 out of the University of Arkansas.

A year ago, in his first full professional season, Reynolds hit only .226 in 433 at-bats with Class A St. Lucie.

This season, he has a .361 average in 194 at-bats with Double-A Binghamton. Add in 27 walks and Reynolds has a .437 on-base percentage. The batting average is tied for second in all of minor league baseball.

Reynolds indicated his offseason work with Rick Strickland in St. Louis paid big dividends.


Courtesy of New York MetsMatt Reynolds


Reynolds’ agent, Jason Wood, sent him to work with Strickland. Another client, the Phillies’ Cody Asche, also had success working with the part-time Mets scout and former Yankees minor leaguer.

“Luis Rivera, our [Binghamton] hitting coach, has been huge with me, too,” Reynolds added. “We’ve just been working on staying through the middle, having a confident approach at the plate, and really just getting a good pitch to drive. And if they don’t give it to me, and I get to two strikes, just battle and find a way to get on base.

“I’m trying to keep a positive attitude, even when things are going bad. So far things really haven’t gone too bad. So it’s pretty easy to keep a positive mental state. But even when things start going bad, just to stay positive and keep working.”

Reynolds missed six days last week with a back issue, but he has come back on fire. He is 11-for-24 in five games since returning.

“It was just muscle tightness,” Reynolds said. “They never really said specifically what it was, but they said if I kept having pain to take time off until I was better. I think I took four days off and felt 100 percent. I feel a lot better now.”

Reynolds “definitely” continues to aspire to be a shortstop, although deficiencies may result in him playing elsewhere. He also sees roughly two games a week at second base with the B-Mets.

“I only played a couple of games in college at second, but I worked there a lot and practiced and everything,” Reynolds said. “I actually played summer ball at second. So I have a little background at second. I just had to get used to it again after playing third and short in college and everything. It’s nothing different to me -- just another position to help my value and to get better.”

Asked what he wanted to still polish in the minors, Reynolds added: “I really want to improve on being able to pull the ball a little bit better, and my defense, obviously. I want to stay at shortstop or even at second base. And I know there are a lot of things that I need to work on, like my hands and footwork, to be able to stay at that position. I know that may not come today or tomorrow, but eventually I feel like I’ll be able to get everything I need to do to play at those positions.”

Reynolds is athletic. A point guard in high school, he indicated he had invitations to walk on to basketball programs at Iowa State, Furman and Butler.

“After my sophomore year [of high school], I was almost for sure that I was going to play basketball in college,” Reynolds said. “I was close to playing basketball in college. And then I had a good junior year. And in the summer of my junior year I was talking to some professional scouts and they said I really had a chance of being a good player in baseball. I sat down with my parents and decided that baseball was probably my best route to go -- better than basketball – because I was a 6-foot guy trying to make it in an NBA where the point guards are 6-8 now. So it would be have been tough for me.”

Organization leaders

Average: Matt Reynolds, Binghamton, .361; Jairo Perez, St. Lucie, .353; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, .351; Kevin Plawecki, Binghamton, .344; Jeff McNeil, Savannah, .341; Brandon Nimmo, St. Lucie, .327; Matt Clark, Binghamton, .313; L.J. Mazzilli, Savannah, .304; Dilson Herrera, St. Lucie, .302; Allan Dykstra, Vegas, .299.

Homers: Andrew Brown, Vegas, 13; Matt Clark, Binghamton, 9; Allan Dykstra, Vegas, 9; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Vegas, 9.

RBIs: Allan Dykstra, Vegas, 46; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, 45; L.J. Mazzilli, Savannah, 43; Kevin Plawecki, Binghamton, 40; Aderlin Rodriguez, St. Lucie, 39.

Steals: Dilson Herrera, St. Lucie, 14; Jeff McNeil, Savannah, 14; Patrick Biondi, Savannah, 13; L.J. Mazzilli, Savannah, 11; Brandon Nimmo, St. Lucie, 9.

ERA: Steven Matz, St. Lucie, 2.13; Kevin McGowan, Savannah, 2.14; John Gant, Savannah, 2.36; Darin Gorski, Vegas, 2.81; Matt Koch, St. Lucie, 3.24; Gabriel Ynoa, St. Lucie, 3.45; Ricky Knapp, Savannah, 3.99; Luis Cessa, St. Lucie, 4.08; Matt Bowman, Binghamton, 4.44; Noah Syndergaard, Vegas, 4.47.

Wins: Matt Koch, St. Lucie, 6; John Gant, Savannah, 6; Gabriel Ynoa, St. Lucie, 6.

Saves: Chasen Bradford, Binghamton, 11; Robert Coles, Savannah, 11; Randy Fontanez, St. Lucie, 9; Vic Black, Vegas, 7; Jeff Walters, Vegas, 6; Beck Wheeler, St. Lucie, 6.

Strikeouts: Darin Gorski, Vegas, 64; Miller Diaz, Savannah, 59; Dana Eveland, Vegas, 58; Dario Alvarez, Savannah, 58; Noah Syndergaard, Vegas, 57.

Short hops

Sandy Alderson indicated the Mets are within days of signing first-round pick Michael Conforto, an outfielder from Oregon State. The GM added that third-round pick Milton Ramos, a prep shortstop from Florida, is even closer to being signed. Other picks already in or en route to Port St. Lucie include Eudor Garcia (fourth round), Josh Prevost (fifth), Dash Winningham (eighth), Erik Manoah (13th), Darryl Knight (14th), David Roseboom (17th), Tyler Badamo (24th) and Matt Blackham (29th).

• Discussing his rationale for the first time for demoting Travis d’Arnaud, Alderson said: “He needs to go down without the pressure of playing every day at the major league level, get his swing back, get his confidence back, and I would expect that he’ll be back -- hopefully -- relatively soon. It’s not unusual. Sometimes we expect that guys will come up and everything will click immediately with a young player and it’s nothing but an upward trajectory. And that doesn’t always happen. I think we have to recognize that and be a little patient. As far as we’re concerned, there’s no reason Travis can’t come back and be a very productive player for us.”

• After seven weeks mysteriously away from the organization, John Lannan threw roughly 45 pitches off a mound at the Mets’ Florida complex on Tuesday morning. In a post-throwing-session interview with the St. Lucie News Tribune’s Jon Santucci, Lannan declined to disclose his whereabouts during his absence. The Mets have labeled it a personal/family matter. Lannan will work as a starter in the minors. He will pitch in the Gulf Coast League or Florida State League to ramp up before being dispatched to Las Vegas.

“Let’s call it a mini-spring training -- just stretch out and see how it goes,” Lannan told Santucci. “I’ve been throwing, so now I’m just going to get back in the swing of things, face some batters and get my pitch count up. My arm feels good. I just have to get back on a five-day rotation and get my pitch count going.”

• Shortstop Amed Rosario, temporarily with Savannah, is expected to highlight the roster of the Brooklyn Cyclones, who open play Friday at Staten Island. The 18-year-old Rosario signed two years ago for $1.75 million, a franchise record for an international teenager. The Cyclones also will include 2013 third-round pick Casey Meisner, a right-hander out of high school in Texas, as well as infielder Jhoan Urena, catcher Tomas Nido, outfielder Joe Tuschak and right-handers Marcos Molina, Corey Oswalt and Brandon Welch.

Kingsport opens play June 19, with the Gulf Coast League season beginning the following day.

• Vegas reliever Jeff Walters, a 40-man roster member, is debating whether to proceed with Tommy John surgery or to try to rehab after being diagnosed with an ulnar collateral ligament tear in his right elbow. Walters unwittingly had been pitching through the tear this season. He produced an 8.86 ERA in 23 Pacific Coast League relief appearances. He had 38 saves last season with Binghamton.

• 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo remains sidelined since getting struck with a pitch in the right wrist Friday by Dunedin’s Matt Boyd. X-rays were negative, but the wrist remains tender and Nimmo is unable to swing. Also injured with St. Lucie, reliever Beck Wheeler and shortstop Phillip Evans have landed on the DL with right-knee strains.

(Read full post)

Minors 6.6.14: Ynoa Ks 11 in shutout

June, 7, 2014
6/07/14
1:31
AM ET
FRESNO 10, LAS VEGAS 1: Noah Syndergaard (A/C joint sprain) watched the game from the stands wearing a sling. Pitching coach Frank Viola joined the 51s after recovering from April 2 open-heart surgery. Starter Darin Gorski allowed four runs in five innings. Relievers Zack Thornton, Miguel Socolovich and John Church allowed two runs apiece. Box

NEW BRITAIN 6, BINGHAMTON 3: New Britain first baseman Kennys Vargas produced a grand slam and two-run double to hand the B-Mets their sixth loss in seven games. Before Vargas’ power display, Binghamton opened scoring in the first against New Britain starter Virgil Vasquez. Brian Burgamy worked a one-out walk and moved to third on a single by Jayce Boyd. Darrell Ceciliani laced a two-out single to plate both runners for a 2-0 lead. B-Mets starter Matt Bowman fanned six batters through the first five innings, but ran into trouble in the sixth. Tony Thomas started a Rock Cats rally with a single. Eddie Rosario then doubled and Bowman walked Nate Hanson to load the bases. That brought Vargas to the plate with none out. He smashed a pitch over the right-field wall to give the Rock Cats a 4-2 lead. The B-Mets got a run back in the bottom half on Matt Clark's solo homer. That would be all Binghamton could produce against Vasquez. At one point, the veteran righty retired 14 of 15 B-Mets batters. Vargas drove in two insurance runs in the seventh against Adam Kolarek. Bowman (3-4) went 5 2/3 innings, gave up four runs and struck out seven. Cody Satterwhite and Ryan Fraser combined to pitch 2 2/3 scoreless relief innings in the loss. Box

ST. LUCIE 5, DUNEDIN 0: Gabriel Ynoa tossed seven scoreless innings and limited the Blue Jays to four hits. He struck out 11, a season high for any Mets pitcher, and did not

lastname
Ynoa
issue a walk. 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo was forced to leave the game after he was hit by Matt Boyd on the right wrist/forearm in the fifth. He initially stayed in the game, but departed an inning later after trying to swing a bat. In the first inning, T.J. Rivera had a two-out single against Boyd. Jairo Perez then drilled a ball to left field. With the sun in his eyes, Dwight Smith Jr. misjudged the ball and it went passed him, allowing Rivera to score. In the sixth, Eudy Pina singled home Perez with the bases loaded to make it 2-0. Albert Cordero crushed his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the eighth, to extend the lead to 4-0. Perez made it a two-hit night in the ninth, driving in Dilson Herrera to cap the scoring. Ynoa surrendered a pair of two-out singles in the first, but Cordero tagged out Marcus Knecht trying to score on a double-steal bid to end the inning. Ynoa retired 18 of the last 20 he faced, including the final seven. Gonzalez Germen, in his fourth rehab appearance, allowed one hit and struck out two in the eighth. Randy Fontanez, voted to the Florida State League All-Star Game earlier this week, struck out two and also stranded two in the ninth to close out the game. Box

SAVANNAH 10, CHARLESTON 4: L.J. Mazzilli and Amed Rosario homered. Jeff McNeil went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and raised his average to .345. Dario Alvarez (4-0), Akeel Morris and Tyler Vanderheiden combined for 4 1/3 innings of scoreless pitching in relief of Robert Gsellman. Box

Compiled with team reports

Morning Briefing: From least to beast

June, 6, 2014
6/06/14
5:07
AM ET

Adam RubinThe Mets spend the weekend in San Francisco, home of aggressive seagulls.
CHICAGO

FIRST PITCH: The lowly Chicago Cubs completed a sweep of the Mets on Thursday at Wrigley Field. And captain David Wright summed it up this way postgame: “We didn’t play well at all.”

Now, things truly get challenging for the Amazin’s.

The Mets begin a three-game series in San Francisco on Friday. The Giants own an MLB-best 39-21 record.

Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.69 ERA) opposes right-hander Matt Cain (1-3, 3.66) in the 10:15 p.m. ET opener at AT&T Park. Cain is returning from a DL stint for a mild right hamstring strain.

Friday’s news reports:

• Top prospect Noah Syndergaard’s return from a forearm strain had an abrupt ending. Syndergaard was forced to depart in the first inning with discomfort in his left, non-throwing shoulder after taking a jolt in a plate collision after uncorking a wild pitch. He was headed for X-rays late Thursday night.

Aside from the injury, Wally Backman told Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Syndergaard needed more minor league experience.

“Everybody thinks he’s on the Wheeler-Harvey type of system. I think he’ll stay here a little bit longer than those guys did, just to develop,” Backman told Dewey. “He’s a 21-year-old kid who’s got a very special arm. I think the organization wants to make sure that he’s right when he goes to the big leagues. With the pitching they have, there’s not a need to push him as quickly as Wheeler last year.”

Read more on the initial details of Syndergaard’s injury in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.


Win McNamee/Getty ImagesWith the 10th overall pick, the Mets selected Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto.


• The Mets selected Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto with the 10th overall pick in the draft. The organization did not have a second-round pick because they signed Curtis Granderson during the offseason. The draft resumes Friday afternoon, beginning with the third round.

How quickly can the power-hitting Conforto, a two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year, reach the majors? Paul DePodesta did not care to speculate.

A look at last year’s first round reveals Texas right-hander pitcher Corey Knebel (supplemental pick/39th overall by the Tigers) is the lone player to make his major league debut so far.

Four players from the 2012 first round have debuted in the majors: catcher Mike Zunino (Mariners, third overall, University of Florida), right-hander Kevin Gausman (Orioles, fourth, LSU), right-hander Michael Wacha (Cardinals, 19th, Texas A&M) and right-hander Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays, 22nd, Duke).

Oregon State’s season ended Monday with a regional loss to UC Irvine.

Read more on Conforto in the Oregonian, Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and at MLB.com.

• Frank Viola is due to rejoin the Las Vegas 51s on Friday as pitching coach. Viola underwent open-heart surgery on April 2. He represented the Mets alongside Mike Piazza at the draft on Thursday night.

Listen to a podcast of Viola speaking with WOR’s Pete McCarthy about Jacob deGrom and returning from open-heart surgery here.

• Out of an abundance of caution, the Mets reportedly will delay Matt Harvey getting on a mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22. Harvey had aimed to get on a mound Monday. Read more in the Daily News.

• Piazza tells Jason Rubinstein in the Daily News that Citi Field is not the reason for the Mets’ woes.

“As a player, I played in some really tough hitters’ ballparks. I understand that [Citi Field] might not be a great hitters’ ballpark,” Piazza told Rubinstein. “But, to me, just take a step back, just hit the ball hard. Doubles and singles and walks are good, too. If you get the home run, you get the home run. There has to be a synergy, there has to be a plan offensively.

“It’s a tough game, and I’ve been there. You hit a ball into the wind and a guy catches it, then you're ticked off. It’s easier said than done, but you've got to find a way to push through it.”

Listen to a WOR podcast with Piazza here.

Vic Black surrendered a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh to Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs ultimately beat the Mets, 7-4, to complete their first three-game sweep of the Amazin’s at Wrigley Field since 2004. DeGrom remained winless. The rookie was charged with four runs in five innings, but did not get much help from his fielders during a three-run second inning that included a failure to turn a double play by Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores.

Wright was double-switched out of the game in the eighth.

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

• Cory Vaughn went 0-for-3 with a walk in his Triple-A debut as Las Vegas lost to Fresno. Jairo Perez’s two-run homer went for naught as Dunedin beat St. Lucie, 7-4. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal speaks with experts about the relative protection of hockey-style and traditional catcher’s masks. The hockey style appears marginally safer, but Travis d’Arnaud has switched back to the traditional style since returning from his latest concussion.

• D’Arnaud’s average has plummeted to .184, but Terry Collins is preaching patience.

• Dave McNary at Variety writes that a Lenny Dykstra movie is in the works. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post writes about the influence of advice from Yogi Berra on Savannah’s L.J. Mazzilli, the son of ex-Met Lee Mazzilli.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger writes about how Lamar Johnson is adjusting to the abundance of information available compared with the last time he served as a major league hitting coach.

BIRTHDAYS: Bud Harrelson, now a co-owner of the independent Long Island Ducks, turns 70. ... Outfielder Jesus Feliciano is 35.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: What should the Mets do with Travis d’Arnaud and the catching situation?
NEW YORK -- Right-hander Jon Velasquez has considered retiring from professional baseball at least twice in the past few years, first after playing independent ball for the Rockland Boulders in 2012, then again when he went to winter ball last November to pitch for Santurce in Puerto Rico.

Eight months later, the 28-year-old Bronx native is pitching in Double-A for the Binghamton Mets, where he has a 3-2 record and 3.52 ERA in 19 appearances. He has produced a 0.913 WHIP.

He throws a fastball that sits at 93-94 mph, cutter and changeup while working in relief.


Courtesy of New York MetsJon Velasquez


“I wasn’t in the right state of mind. I thought the game was getting a bit unfair to me,” Velasquez said about his flirtations with walking away. “But I only know myself to play baseball and I knew this is what I wanted to do. Graduating from college and having student loans, it’s hard to deal with. It was getting hard to make ends meet at the time. That was pretty much what it came down to, because I wasn’t making much in indy ball.”

After graduating from Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx, Velasquez played college ball, picking up an associate degree in entertainment and sports promotion management, then a bachelor’s degree in management from Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Undrafted, he signed with the Phillies and rose to the Florida State League. In 2010 with Clearwater, he went 3-9 with a 3.19 ERA in 45 appearances (five starts) for the high-A club.

Velasquez subsequently was released. He pitched for Rockland in the Can-Am League in 2011 and ’12 and was prepared to walk away and get a regular job when his manager, former major league pitcher Dave LaPoint, called with an opportunity to finish the season with Camden in the Atlantic League.

Velasquez enjoyed the experience and returned for 2013.

“I was thinking about retiring and just moving on with life and getting a regular job,” Velasquez said. “My manager, Dave LaPoint, called me up like 12 days after our Can-Am season and asked me if I wanted to go out and play in the Atlantic League. I was like, ‘Sure.’ So I went there and played and had such a great time. I had a newfound love for the game after I went to Camden. They asked me if I wanted to play in 2013.”

Still, though, independent ball can be a difficult way to make a living. And Velasquez still did not get an offer from a major league club to join its farm system, even though he posted a 1.95 ERA in 61 relief appearances last year with Camden.

He resolved to go to winter ball in Puerto Rico to try to draw interest. If that did not work, he was done with pro baseball.

The decision worked out. The Minnesota Twins signed Velasquez less than a month after he arrived in Puerto Rico. Then things got interesting.

Because he had signed only a week or so before the winter meetings, Velasquez was exposed for the minor-league phases of the Rule 5 draft. The Mets selected him. Velasquez, not expecting such a move, found out via Facebook while trying to reach a Spanish-language baseball site’s alert on his phone. Velasquez is of Puerto Rican descent but not perfectly fluent in Spanish.

“I had a notification on Facebook and I clicked on it,” Velasquez said. “Usually they just put things up if I pitched the night before with how I did. I was like, ‘I didn’t pitch yesterday. Why did they tag me?’ And I started reading it. It was in Spanish, and I’m not really fluent. It takes me a little bit to understand. So I was reading through it and I kind of saw something about the Mets. As soon as I was like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’ my agent called me.”

Organization leaders

Average: Andrew Brown, Vegas, .359; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, .356; Eric Campbell, Vegas, .355; Matt Reynolds, Binghamton, .352; Jairo Perez, St. Lucie, .351; Jeff McNeil, Savannah, .346; Kevin Plawecki, Binghamton, .335; Brandon Nimmo, St. Lucie, .332; Matt Clark, Binghamton, .331; Wilfredo Tovar, Binghamton, .313.

Homers: Andrew Brown, Vegas, 13; Taylor Teagarden, Vegas, 8; Matt Clark, Binghamton, 8; Allan Dykstra, Vegas, 8.

RBIs: Allan Dykstra, Vegas, 44; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, 44.

Steals: Jeff McNeil, Savannah, 14; Patrick Biondi, Savannah, 13; Dilson Herrera, St. Lucie, 13; Brandon Nimmo, St. Lucie, 9.

ERA: Kevin McGowan, Savannah, 1.66; Steven Matz, St. Lucie, 1.73; Darin Gorski, Vegas, 2.44; John Gant, Savannah, 2.67; Matt Koch, St. Lucie, 2.70; Ricky Knapp, Savannah, 3.09; Gabriel Ynoa, St. Lucie, 3.88; Luis Cessa, St. Lucie, 3.98; Noah Syndergaard, Vegas, 4.02.

Wins: Matt Koch, St. Lucie, 6; Miller Diaz, Savannah, 5; John Gant, Savannah, 5; Noah Syndergaard, Vegas, 5; Gabriel Ynoa, St. Lucie, 5.

Saves: Chasen Bradford, Binghamton, 11; Robert Coles, Savannah, 10; Vic Black, Vegas, 7; Randy Fontanez, St. Lucie, 7; Jeff Walters, Vegas, 6; Beck Wheeler, St. Lucie, 6.

Strikeouts: Darin Gorski, Vegas, 59; Dana Eveland, Vegas, 58; Noah Syndergaard, Vegas, 57; Miller Diaz, Savannah, 53; Dario Alvarez, Savannah, 52.

Short hops

• St. Lucie will have seven players in the Florida State League All-Star Game on June 14 in Bradenton, Fla.: second baseman Dilson Herrera, center fielder Brandon Nimmo, infielder T.J. Rivera, catcher Cam Maron, left-hander Steven Matz and right-handers Matt Koch and Randy Fontanez.

• Savannah placed seven players in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, which will be played June 16 in Hickory, N.C.: right-handers Kevin McGowan, Miller Diaz, Akeel Morris and Robert Coles, left-hander Dario Alvarez, third baseman Jeff McNeil and shortstop Gavin Cecchini. Gnats manager Luis Rojas will lead the Southern Division team.

Nimmo resumed playing Monday after missing three days with pinkeye. Rivera also just returned from a three-game absence because of soreness.

Frank Viola, who underwent open-heart surgery on April 2, is due to join Las Vegas on Friday as pitching coach. Viola and Mike Piazza first will represent the Mets on the opening day of the draft Thursday at Secaucus, N.J.

• The player to be named in the Ike Davis trade with the Pirates will not be announced immediately after the draft. The PTBN can be announced a year after he signed his first pro contract, not a year after he was drafted. If it does turn out to be Connecticut prep right-hander Neil Kozikowski, which has been speculated, he signed June 21. So the Mets would have to wait until the one-year anniversary to receive him. Kozikowski was selected in the eighth round and signed for an over slot $425,000 in 2013.

Rafael Montero walked four in 5 1/3 innings in his return to Las Vegas on Tuesday night. Combined between the Mets and 51s this season, Montero has walked 33 in 67 innings, or 4.4 per nine innings. That is the highest rate of his career by a wide margin. The rate was 1.6 per nine innings in 2011, 1.4 in 2012 and 2.0 in 2013.

Noah Syndergaaard is due to reenter the Vegas rotation Thursday after dealing with a forearm strain.

Cory Mazzoni, who suffered a lat-muscle injury starting for the Mets in the final Grapefruit League game, is due to pitch an inning in extended spring training on Wednesday for the first time since suffering the injury.

Rob Whalen, who raced to a 4-0 start with a 1.80 ERA through 20 innings with Savannah before developing an infection in his pitching hand, has been cleared to start throwing on flat ground.

Amed Rosario is not yet done with Savannah, even though he was transferred off their roster temporarily to clear a spot. The 18-year-old shortstop still will be joining Brooklyn when the New York-Penn League season opens June 13 at Staten Island. Rosario struck out in all five at-bats in his lone South Atlantic League appearance so far.

Jairo Perez, who missed two weeks in April with a right hamstring pull, now has enough at-bats to qualify for the Florida State League leaderboard. Perez checks in at No. 2, with a .351 average. Rivera, his teammate, is first overall at .356. Nimmo ranks fourth in the league at .332.

Morning Briefing: How about another 14?

June, 1, 2014
6/01/14
5:34
AM ET
PHILADELPHIA

FIRST PITCH: Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.74 ERA) opposes Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels (1-3, 4.43) in Sunday’s 1:35 p.m. game at Citizens Bank Park.

If the Mets could keep the game under four hours, it would be appreciated.

“There’s some tired bodies out there,” Terry Collins said after the Mets played their second straight 14-inning game Saturday.

Sunday’s news reports:

David Wright had a tiebreaking RBI single in the top of the 14th against Antonio Bastardo and the Mets beat the Phillies, 5-4, Saturday. The Mets played consecutive five-hour games for the first time in franchise history. Despite allowing a three-run homer in the seventh to Ryan Howard, Jacob deGrom left in position for his first major league victory. Instead, he remained winless in four solid starts. Jeurys Familia suffered a blown save in the ninth. Buddy Carlyle tossed three scoreless relief innings in his first major league action since 2011 and earned his first win in six years.


Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesDavid Wright (who had the go-ahead RBI) and Carlos Torres (who had the save) celebrate Saturday's 14-inning win.


“Ideally, for the long run, you never want to play 14-inning games, much less back to back,” Wright told reporters postgame. “But if you’re out there, you want to win. It was also nice to pick one up for the bullpen, because they had been so good.”

Read game recaps in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.

• Rookie Rafael Montero was demoted before Saturday’s game to clear the roster spot for Carlyle. Daisuke Matsuzaka will enter the rotation Wednesday at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs in Montero’s spot. Matsuzaka could be in the rotation for a while, since Dillon Gee (lat muscle strain) has not picked up a baseball since having to halt a session last Sunday after two tosses because of discomfort. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.

Juan Lagares was scratched from Saturday’s start with a rib-cage issue but insisted the injury is “nothing bad.”

• After the Mets played consecutive 14-inning games and taxed the bullpen, left-hander Dana Eveland has been promoted from Las Vegas for Sunday’s matinee. The Mets did not announce a corresponding move Saturday. Barring an unexpected DL stint for Lagares, though, Carlyle logically could be out because he likely would be unavailable as he recovers from Saturday’s appearance.

• Sandy Alderson said it’s time for the Mets “to turn the corner.”

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post asserts that touting a slow-and-steady building of the farm system is a good diversionary tactic from woes at the big-league level and does not ensure future prosperity. Writes Sherman:

If you say, well maybe the Mets will be the Rays, know that the Rays have had three original signings since 2007 do much in the majors -- David Price (who was a first overall pick in 2007), Matt Moore (who is out after Tommy John surgery) and Derek Dietrich (who was traded for Yunel Escobar). Tampa Bay has found its success being ingenious in other ways.

If you are thinking the Moneyball A’s are the touchstone because of Alderson’s roots, then know that Oakland had four players it originally brought to its organization on the Opening Day roster, though one was Sonny Gray, who Alderson passed up in his first draft (2011) to take [Brandon] Nimmo. Again, Oakland has upheld success not with a lengthy buildup of personnel, but with crafty maneuvering of personnel.

So while the Mets continue in the slow-and-steady portion of the program, you might wonder if it is a fable that will work.

• Marc Carig in Newsday takes a detailed look at the Mets’ hitting philosophy, which will not change even with the firing of Dave Hudgens. Writes Carig:

The confusion begins with the ultimate goal. It is not to take pitches. It is not to run up pitch counts. It is not even necessarily to draw more walks. While these are beneficial byproducts, the real goal is to hit the ball with authority.

This can happen with the first pitch of an at-bat. Or the 10th. Proponents insist it doesn't matter, so long as hitters swing only at pitches they can crush. Within the system, taking a good pitch to hit and chasing a bad pitch out of the strike zone are equal sins.

Paul DePodesta, a longtime Alderson lieutenant, called the philosophy "focused aggression."

• The Mets received a scolding from the umpiring crew for leaving the field before an official call reversal for the final out of an inning Saturday.

• Umps have been incorrectly warning the Mets that Familia is balking, Collins said.

• Jairo Perez’s tiebreaking three-run homer lifted St. Lucie to a 4-3 win against Daytona. Champ Stuart went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs as Savannah beat Rome, 6-2. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Frank Viola, who underwent open-heart surgery in April, tells the Post he’s eager to get to work as pitching coach for Las Vegas beginning Friday.

“Right now I’m in Port St. Lucie. I’m going through a regular spring-training arm-strengthening program,” Viola said. “I figure I should be back throwing BP in two weeks. … Being away I realized how much I missed it. I have to continue to take better care of myself, but I’m really glad to be back.”

• Mike Puma in the Post recaps the Mets’ 11-18 May.

• Jeff Roberts in the Record looks at the rash of Tommy John surgeries in baseball.

• Garin Cecchini, the brother of Mets 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini, reportedly has been promoted to the majors by the Boston Red Sox.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear realizes that perhaps you can have too much baseball.

BIRTHDAYS: Rick Baldwin, who made 105 relief appearances for the Mets in the mid-’70s, was born on this date in 1953.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: How should the Mets clear the roster spot for Dana Eveland’s addition?

Morning Briefing: Zack opens trip with 'W'

May, 30, 2014
5/30/14
5:30
AM ET

Bill Streicher/USA TODAY SportsZack Wheeler retired 14 straight batters at one point en route to a win against the Phillies on Thursday.
PHILADELPHIA

FIRST PITCH: Don’t look now but the Mets are on a three-game winning streak, coinciding with the ascension of Lamar Johnson to hitting coach.

Rafael Montero (0-2, 4.96 ERA) opposes Philadelphia Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett (3-4, 3.51) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park.

Terry Collins indicated Bobby Abreu is expected to start in the outfield.

Friday’s news reports:

Zack Wheeler struck out nine and took a scoreless effort into the seventh as the Mets won the opener of a five-game series against the Phillies, 4-1, Thursday. Jenrry Mejia struck out the side in the ninth for his fifth save. Vic Black recorded four outs, three via strikeout, as the setup man as Collins finally seems to have some late-inning arms at his disposal. Wheeler had retired 14 straight until Marlon Byrd’s solo homer in the seventh on pitch No. 108 chased him.

Chris Young had a two-run homer and finished 2-for-4 to lift his average to .205.

Young, who thought his limited playing time in Oakland last season after getting off to a slow start further hindered his production, was out of the starting lineup for three straight games earlier this week. He essentially said he deserved it, though.

“I’ve been dealing with it,” Young said. “It gets to a point where, as a player, you have to hold yourself accountable. You have to understand what’s going on around you. And you have to understand we’ve got to win ballgames. I trust that when I start feeling better, I start driving the ball more, it will be more consistent [playing time]. At some point you have to take the responsibility upon yourself and go out there and have quality at-bats.”

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

• Frank Viola, who underwent open-heart surgery on April 2, plans to assume his originally intended role as Triple-A Las Vegas pitching coach next Friday. Read more in Newsday.

• The Mets continue to add vice presidents to newly created positions to bulk up their marketing and sales efforts. The club announced Thursday the hiring of Wes Engram from the Kansas City Royals as vice president of corporate partnerships sales and service. Since Dave Howard left to run MSG in March 2013, the team also has hired Lou DePaoli as chief revenue officer, Will Carafello as director of social media and Harold Kaufman as executive director of communications.


Adam RubinMatt den Dekker is one of three Mets with a lower-case "d" beginning his surname.


• With the Mets having set a major-league record for surnames beginning with a lower-case “d” -- with Travis d’Arnaud, Jacob deGrom and Matt den Dekker -- Paul Lukas at ESPN.com examines lettering on uniforms. Writes Lukas:

Three primary schools of thought have emerged from these discussions: one that believes player names on jerseys should always be all caps, period; one that loves the lowercase letters; and a compromise position that advocates for the use of small caps instead of lowercase letters.

• The Mets began a stretch on Thursday in which they play 25 of 33 games on the road. Jared Diamond in the Journal notes that no team has played more road games in a 33-game span since 1995 than the Mets will during this stretch. MLB senior VP Katy Feeney suggested the Yankees are partly responsible. Yankee Stadium needed to avoid baseball games for part of May because of NYU graduation ceremonies taking place there. That meant the Mets were home more than usual during that period, while the Yankees were away.

• D’Arnaud went 0-for-4 and grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in his first game since returning from a concussion. Collins said Mets catchers collectively need to pick up their production at the plate. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

• Hansel Robles allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings and Brian Burgamy had a two-run homer as Binghamton beat New Hampshire, 7-2. L.J. Mazzilli’s RBI single in the 12th plated Patrick Biondi in Savannah’s 3-2, walk-off win against Rome. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Columnist Phil Mushnick in the Post is not a fan of 50 Cent performing at Citi Field.

• Justin Terranova in the Post asks former GM Steve Phillips about the Wilpons as owners.

“Fred and Jeff desperately want to win and that part was never a question for me,” Phillips said. “There’s always this perceived notion when George Steinbrenner was alive that he always wanted to win more, but the Mets run their team as a business and they want to win. They are kind of caught in between right now of still giving young guys opportunities, while adding those veteran pieces that are necessary, too. They don’t blindly go after that without having a prudent business plan.”

BIRTHDAYS: Wheeler has another reason to celebrate besides his performance in the series opener. He turns 24.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will Zack Wheeler end up being an ace after all?

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.289 9 57 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187