Daniel Murphy commits the first of his two errors Thursday, after returning from paternity leave.NEW YORK
FIRST PITCH: After the Washington Nationals completed a three-game sweep on Thursday at Citi Field, Terry Collins insisted his ballclub is better than it demonstrated in the opening series.
The Mets dropped to 0-3 for the fifth time in franchise history, matching the 1962, 1963, 1964 and 2005 editions.
“We’re a lot better team defensively, we’re a lot better team offensively than we’re seeing right now,” Collins said. “It’s three days. It certainly leaves a sour taste in your mouth when you start out the season like this. But I can tell you a few teams that ended up being pretty good that got off to slow starts.”
Friday’s news reports:
• Sources say Collins plans to give Lucas Duda a prolonged look at first base beginning Friday rather than juggle playing time between Duda, Ike Davis and Josh Satin. The Mets are due to face exclusively right-handers over the next two series, negating any thought of using the righty-hitting Satin anyway. “We’ve got to see one of these guys play,” Collins said, without acknowledging which player would get the extensive look. “Then, if he doesn’t get the job done, we’ll shift gears. But we’ve got to give him ample at-bats to have a better idea.” Read more in the Post, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Daniel Murphy committed two errors at second base and felt “sluggish” in the field in his return after missing the season’s first two games on paternity leave. Murphy said he was fully justified in spending time with his wife and newborn son Noah, despite talk-radio criticism of him missing games. Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.Adam Rubin
Chris Young landed on the disabled list Thursday.
• Chris Young landed on the disabled list before Thursday’s game with a right quadriceps strain. That temporarily spared Wilmer Flores a demotion to Las Vegas with Murphy being reactivated from paternity leave. Collins indicated Flores is likely to head to Triple-A on Sunday, when the Mets plan to activate Jonathon Niese from the disabled list to face the Cincinnati Reds. Read more in the Daily News and Record.
• Bobby Parnell indicated it is “50-50” whether he ends up having Tommy John surgery to address a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow. Regardless, Parnell expects a relatively quick resolution so that he can avoid compromising his 2015 availability if he ultimately needs to undergo the procedure. Read more in the Post and Newsday.
• The Mets lost Thursday’s series finale, 8-2, to Washington. The Nats have won eight straight games against the Mets since last Sept. 1. Zack Wheeler expressed disappointment with allowing three runs in six innings. Of course, the bullpen allowed a one-run game to get out of hand. Overall, the underwhelming relief corps surrendered 12 runs (11 earned) in 9 1/3 innings in the three-game series. The Mets were outscored 22-4 after the first inning in the series.
“It was tough. We certainly didn’t pitch as well as we hoped to, but I thought the three starters (Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and Wheeler) did a nice job, kept us in games,” Collins said. “We’ve got to come out of that bullpen and we’ve got to start throwing some strikes. When we’re successful, it’s because you make the other team swing the bat. Not that they can’t get a hit, but when you’re behind in the count, you’re going to get in trouble in this league.”
Collins added that the Mets lacking players -- Chris Young with the quadriceps injury and Murphy for the first two games for fatherhood duties -- has made things more challenging.
“We actually played very well toward the end of camp,” the manager said. “I think one of the things right now is we continue to be unable to put the team out in the field that we hoped to. … I can assure you we’re better than what we’ve seen the last three days.”
Writes columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News:
It has taken the Mets just one series into the season to be officially declared unwatchable.
• Read more on Wheeler in the Post.
• Columnist Anthony Rieber in Newsday suggests the Mets’ early season schedule does them no favors. Writes Rieber:
Strength of schedule often is an overlooked component in baseball and the Mets are facing a difficult opening stretch. For a team that needs a fast start, beginning with Washington-Cincinnati-at Atlanta is not helpful. That's two 2013 playoff teams and one that should have been.
The following four series aren't cakewalks, either: at Angels, at Diamondbacks, then home for the Braves and Cardinals. The Mets may be 10 games under .500 soon after Easter Sunday.
• Juan Lagares hit for the “cycle” if you combine his first two games. It took him seven at-bats. That’s the quickest in the majors to start a season since Ian Kinsler took six at-bats with Texas in 2012, according to Matthew Oshinsky in the Journal. Since 1997, only Kinsler has done it quicker than Lagares.
• Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson presented Jeff Wilpon with an award before Thursday’s game recognizing the Mets’ contribution to Hurricane Sandy relief. Johnson also threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
• Rafael Montero tossed six scoreless innings and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered while going 4-for-4 in Las Vegas’ season-opening 9-2 win against Fresno. Zach Lutz added a grand slam. Bronx native T.J. Rivera’s tiebreaking grand slam helped lift St. Lucie to a 6-5 win against Palm Beach. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Noah Syndergaard makes his Triple-A debut on Friday night. Paul DePodesta confirmed to Marc Carig in Newsday that all the Vegas starters, including Syndergaard, could skip occasional rotation turns during the Pacific Coast League season and instead pitch an inning out of the bullpen on those days to limit their season innings counts.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear returned to Citi Field Thursday afternoon to find the weather vastly improved from Opening Day but the Mets not getting any better. ... MetsMinors.net chats with Allan Dykstra.
BIRTHDAYS: Eric Valent, who hit for the cycle as a Met on July 29, 2004 at Montreal, turns 37. ... The late Gil Hodges and Jim Fregosi were born on this date.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
@AdamRubinESPN Can someone recommend that the whole Mets bullpen get a group twitter account so I only have to go to one place to bash them?
— Keith Raleigh (@raleigh80) April 3, 2014
YOU’RE UP: Do you support Terry Collins’ decision to give Lucas Duda a prolonged look at first base to sink or swim?