New York Mets: Jay Horwitz
Getty Images, Associated PressOmar Minaya and the Mets put in an aggressive posting bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka back in 2006.
FIRST PITCH: A day after officially joining the organization, Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his Mets debut when he starts tonight’s series opener against the Detroit Tigers at Citi Field.
Matsuzaka, now 32, nearly became a Met in his prime.
Former GM Omar Minaya on Thursday recalled the Mets finishing second to the Boston Red Sox in the posting bidding for Matsuzaka after the Japanese icon declared his intent to come to the United States during a November 2006 press conference at the Takanawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo.
Minaya remembered Mets officials feeling good about their chances of landing Matsuzaka after submitting a posting bid in the $35 million vicinity.
At the time, the Mets’ bid was poised to wildly surpass the highest figure ever submitted for a player posted from Japan. The record at the time: The Seattle Mariners had won the rights to negotiate with Ichiro Suzuki back in 2000 for a $13 million posting fee to the Orix Blue Wave.
However, the Mets lost out on Matsuzaka when the bids were unsealed and it was learned the Red Sox had submitted a whopping posting bid of $51.11 million to the Seibu Lions.
In subsequent negotiations, Matsuzaka received a $52 million contract over six years from Boston, making the Red Sox’s total outlay to land him $103.11 million.
“We thought we had a good number at the time, but the bottom line is they were much higher than us,” recalled Minaya, now a special assistant with the San Diego Padres. “After that season, we were kind of looking for that No. 1 guy. And the guys we were considering were Dice-K and [Barry] Zito at the time, too. Dice-K and him were the two best guys out there.
“At that time, I think the biggest [posting bid ever] was Ichiro -- not even $15 million. And we finished third with Ichiro. But the bottom line is we went up to the middle $30s -- or high $30s, I think it was -- with Dice-K. And we thought we had a good chance. The bottom line is they went up to the $50s.
“I had seen Dice-K a lot. I saw Dice-K in Japan. I saw Dice-K in Australia and in the Olympics. So I had a lot of history with him. And at the time he was a pretty good pitcher -- a very good pitcher.
“The question was: How much does he bring to the marketing side? At that time Boston felt he was going to bring them a lot of extra marketing, and that’s why they went to that number.”
Matsuzaka likely will have a short outing, since he will work on short rest after throwing 85 pitches Monday for Triple-A Columbus. Carlos Torres, originally penciled in for the start, should piggyback Matsuzaka’s outing.
Read the series Mets-Tigers preview here.
Friday’s news reports:
• Zack Wheeler tells Marc Carig in Newsday he does not mind a team-imposed innings cap. The rookie noted his fastball velocity is now hovering in the lower-90s mph, which signals he is pitching deeper into a season than before and his energy is getting sapped. Wheeler’s brother, Adam, was a flame-throwing Yankees farmhand before tearing a labrum and undergoing surgery that derailed his career. So Wheeler acutely understands the dangers of overwork.
Wheeler currently is at a combined 138 1/3 innings between the majors at minors this season. He logged 149 innings last year. A roughly 30-inning jump from the previous season generally is within the acceptable limit. So Wheeler may have 40 or so more innings left before a shutdown.
"Of course, I'm young and I want to pitch as long as I can,” Wheeler tells Carig. “And with them sort of limiting innings and pitches and all that stuff, I think it will help me out down the road. I'm not mad about it, honestly.''
• The Mets dispatched Greg Burke to Triple-A Las Vegas to clear a roster spot for Matsuzaka. Burke should return after the 51s complete their season and major league rosters have expanded.
Read more on Matsuzaka’s signing in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Times, Journal and MLB.com.
• John Buck tells Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger he is embracing the role of mentoring Travis d’Arnaud. Buck generously made an effort to dine with d’Arnaud this summer when the rookie was in New York for a follow-up exam on his fractured foot. “I still have a responsibility to the Mets and to this team,” Buck said. “Travis is my teammate. I have a lot of family members and stuff that think I’m crazy. But that’s just who I am.”
• Giancarlo Alvarado tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings and Zach Lutz drove in three runs as Las Vegas beat Fresno, 5-0. Rob Whalen tossed seven scoreless innings and Kingsport blanked Bluefield, 7-0. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Former Mets minor league catcher Landon Powell, whose emotional story was documented in an E:60 piece, has joined Furman University as a volunteer assistant coach.
• Jeremy Hefner was shocked by the murder of an Australian man playing college baseball in Hefner’s home state of Oklahoma, he told the Daily News.
• From the bloggers: Rising Apple expects the Mets to be in contention in 2014. … John Delcos at Mets Report speculates about a potential Jose Reyes-Mets winter reunion.
BIRTHDAYS: Julio Franco turns 55. … Ed Hearn is 53. … Prentice Redman turns 34. … Pat Strange is 33.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Would you prefer Daisuke Matsuzaka, Carlos Torres, Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom getting starts down the stretch?
Harvey vs. Scherzer on Saturday? Sorry kid, we're not watching The Wiggles this weekend. #Mets— Nick (@drsexington) August 22, 2013
Adam RubinThe weather, and the group of players on the roster, were considerably different when the Mets visited Minnesota in April.
FIRST PITCH: Snow, then freezing rain during a mid-April visit to Minneapolis forced the postponement of the interleague series finale against the Minnesota Twins during a season-open road trip. So the Mets swing by Target Field today for a makeup game to cap a four-city, 11-game road trip.
Dillon Gee (8-8, 3.79 ERA) opposes rookie right-hander Kyle Gibson (2-3, 6.27) in the 2:10 p.m. ET game.
The forecast: mostly sunny, with a high of 89 degrees.
Monday’s news reports:
• Pedro Feliciano surrendered a walk-off homer to Will Venable and the Mets lost to the Padres, 4-3, Sunday to split their four-game series. The Mets dropped to 13-12 in games started by Matt Harvey this season, despite Harvey limiting San Diego to two runs in six innings. The Mets suffered their 12th walk-off loss of the season, matching the Miami Marlins for the most in MLB.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Journal, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.
• Travis d’Arnaud will remain with the major league club once John Buck returns from paternity leave for Tuesday’s homestand opener against the Atlanta Braves, Foxsports.com reported. However, multiple team officials insisted to ESPNNewYork.com on Sunday night that they had not yet committed to that decision, while acknowledging that may very well end up the resolution. D’Arnaud is 0-for-4 with four walks through two games in his major league career.
• Before Sunday’s game, the Mets placed Jenrry Mejia on the disabled list and promoted reliever Greg Burke. Terry Collins expects Mejia will undergo surgery soon to remove a bone spur from his right elbow, giving him ample time to recover for spring training. As for the rotation void, the Mets appeared to be leaning toward skipping the Mejia turn because of Thursday’s off-day and having Harvey pitch on standard rest Friday against the Detroit Tigers at Citi Field.
Harvey throwing only 86 pitches Sunday helps make that feasible. The alternative is for Carlos Torres to make a spot start Friday and Harvey to continue to pitch with an extra day of rest Saturday. Longer term, Collins indicated, September call-ups should plug Mejia’s rotation spot.
Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Journal and Newsday.
• Jeremy Hefner is due for another examination today to determine whether he will require Tommy John surgery for a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right elbow. Undergoing that procedure would cause Hefner to miss most if not all of the 2014 season.
• Jacob deGrom took a perfect-game bid into the sixth inning and Las Vegas ultimately beat Salt Lake, 6-3. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Jay Horwitz appeared on WABC-TV to discuss the motivation for his upcoming bobblehead day. Watch here.
BIRTHDAYS: Pitcher-turned-broadcaster Ron Darling turns 53. … Ex-Met Chris Capuano, now in the Dodgers rotation, is 35. … Matt Franco turns 44.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
FIRST PITCH: Zack Wheeler, who tossed six scoreless innings in his major league debut at Turner Field in Atlanta, albeit with five walks, gets another crack at the Braves in an early start this afternoon.
Wheeler (3-1, 3.58 ERA) opposes rookie left-hander Alex Wood (0-2, 2.45) as the Mets look to salvage a split of the four-game series. First pitch: 12:10 p.m.
Wood steps in for fellow southpaw Paul Maholm, who landed on the disabled list on the eve of the series with a bruised wrist.
With the Mets facing a left-hander, Josh Satin should start at first base and Juan Lagares in center field. Justin Turner also is due for his first start since returning from the disabled list.
Terry Collins planned for Turner to be used at a middle-infield position, but Turner might start at third base if David Wright needs a day for a sore back/neck. Wright inadvertently hit himself with the shattered bat during his own swing in the fourth inning Wednesday night.
Thursday’s news reports:
• The Texas Rangers are scouting Marlon Byrd among a bevy of outfield options, writes CBSSports.com. Alex Rios of the Chicago White Sox appears Texas’ primary target, according to the report. Writes Jon Heyman:
Ideally, Texas would have loved to make a run at young Marlins superstar Giancarlo Stanton, Hunter Pence (a local, being a U-T Arlington product) or perhaps Michael Cuddyer, but with those three apparently unavailable at the moment, the Rangers are surveying a market that's heavy on far lesser talents. Pence would seem to have the best chance to be traded of those three, and Texas would target him if he becomes free. Nolan Ryan is said to be a fan.
Seattle, which has Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse, isn't ready to trade anybody yet. And most believe they'll ultimately keep at least Ibanez and Morales now that they are showing decent signs of life. …
The Rangers reportedly have looked at Norichika Aoki, as well, and Danny Knobler reported they are scouting Marlon Byrd, their former player. Other outfielders who could go in trades include Justin Ruggiano, Chris Denorfia, Nate Schierholtz and Alejandro De Aza.
• Tim Hudson suffered a gruesome fracture of his right ankle when he was stepped on while covering first base by runner Eric Young Jr. on Wednesday night. Hudson had taken a scoreless effort into the eighth inning when the injury occurred.
“I saw them get tangled up,” Dan Uggla told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I was just hoping he Charley-horsed him or something. I didn’t see the extent of it. Once I saw Huddy’s reaction, I was like, ‘Oh, no. This isn’t good.’ …
“He was kind of in disbelief, obviously in a lot of pain. You could see just the thoughts going through his head, ‘This can’t be happening. … This is unbelievable.’ That sort of thing. I know he was in a lot of pain.”
Young expressed remorse for what happened.
"I'm hustling down the line like I always do, going for the base," Young said. "I saw his foot, as I'm going for the base, right there in the middle, as I came down, I knew I didn't get any of the base. I know I got all of his foot. I pretty much knew it was probably broke right as I did it, and that's why I sprinted right back to him and tried to console him as much as I could and apologize.
"I was able to see Tim before they took him to the hospital. He told me it wasn't my fault, just one of those freak plays that happened."
Read more on the injury and reaction in the Post and Daily News.
• Evan Gattis, Uggla and Andrelton Simmons all homered against Jeremy Hefner as the Braves beat the Mets, 8-2 at Citi Field. Hefner surrendered six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings. He became the first Mets pitcher to allow three homers in a home game this season. Hefner has allowed 13 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings over his past two starts. Daniel Murphy had two doubles, but also committed two errors.
Columnist John Harper in the Daily News summarizes the night.
Read game recaps in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times and MLB.com.
• Read more on Wright’s status after getting struck with his own bat in the Star-Ledger and Daily News.
• Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud returned to game action for the first time Wednesday, in the same Gulf Coast League game. D’Arnaud went 1-for-3 and caught five innings in his first official action since fracturing the first metatarsal in his left foot on April 17 with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Duda, who landed on the DL with an intercostal muscle strain on his left side after a June 21 game, went 0-for-2 with a walk. He played five innings in left field. It would have been far more noteworthy because of the implications for Ike Davis if Duda had played first base, but that was not the case. Read more in the Post.
• Jonathon Niese, on the DL with a shoulder issue, is ready to pitch in a Gulf Coast League game this weekend or shortly thereafter. He likely will need multiple rehab starts before returning, so rejoining the Mets in mid-August is most likely. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Jenrry Mejia joined the Mets in advance of Friday’s start opposite Jordan Zimmermann in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Nationals Park. Matt Harvey opposes Ross Ohlendorf in the nightcap that day. The other matchups that series: Dillon Gee versus Dan Haren on Saturday and Carlos Torres versus Taylor Jordan on Sunday.
• Matching an event annually staged at San Francisco’s A&T Park, the Mets will host a sleepover for fans at Citi Field on Aug. 10. Unlike with the Giants, it will not occur the night of a home day game. Tickets, which range $175-$200 per person and include admission to the Sept. 28 game against the Milwaukee Brewers, go on sale at 10 a.m. today at Mets.com/sleepover. The Mets also announced PR man Jay Horwitz bobblehead day will be held Aug. 23. There’s also a Third Eye Blind concert after that game against the Detroit Tigers.
• Columnist Larry Brooks in the Post suggests the Mets are laying the groundwork for a brighter future.
• Mark Cohoon became the all-time innings-pitched leader in Binghamton history and closer Jeff Walters matched Jerrod Riggan’s B-Mets single-season record with save No. 28 in a 6-3 win against Reading. Read the minor league recap here.
BIRTHDAYS: Billy Wagner, now spending time with his alpacas, turns 42. … Where’s Mota? Guillermo Mota is celebrating his 40th birthday.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Still thinking about the people affected by the ASIANA crash in SF! We just landed right next to it!! pic.twitter.com/uZ34tOEY9U— Dillon Gee (@DillonGee35) July 8, 2013
Just landed in SF. Wreckage of plane that crashed yesterday visible on left as we touched down. Scary.— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) July 8, 2013
Just landed and saw the plane that crashed. Unreal!!!— Zack wheeler (@Wheelerpro45) July 8, 2013
Wheeler is due to make what his likely his final start with Triple-A Las Vegas tonight at Tacoma.
Jay Horwitz, the team’s vice president for media relations, flew to the West Coast during Monday’s Mets off-day to prep Wheeler for dealing with the New York media.
Wheeler, 23, is 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 11 Pacific Coast League starts.
The Mets have been waiting until after the “Super 2” deadline to promote Wheeler. By ensuring he is not in the first portion of MLB prospects called up this season, the Mets can delay Wheeler’s arbitration eligibility by a year, until after the 2016 season. Either way at this point, Wheeler would not be eligible for free agency until after the ’19 season.
Wheeler’s promotion would come amid solid recent performances by Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner, which complicates the decision. Still, the Mets might not immediately need to bounce anyone from the rotation because of a doubleheader on June 18 in Atlanta, which will create the need for an extra starter for one turn.
Southpaw Jeff Locke (3-1, 3.21 ERA) faces Dillon Gee (2-4, 6.16) in the series opener. Left-handers Wandy Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano -- the latter in his Pirates debut -- start the following two days before the Mets see 25-year-old right-hander Jeanmar Gomez on Mother’s Day opposite Matt Harvey.
Thursday’s news reports:
• The Mets lost to the White Sox, 6-3, Wednesday at Citi Field to split a two-game series against Robin Ventura’s crew. Jeremy Hefner (0-4) surrendered a homer to the game’s first batter, Alejandro De Aza, and ultimately was charged with four earned runs on eight hits and a walk in six innings.
The Mets fell to 0-6 in games started by Jeremy Hefner this season.
Lucas Duda had a solo homer against Jake Peavy in the second inning to even the score at 1. Duda now has seven homers, but only 11 RBIs.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Hefner acknowledged before Wednesday’s start he would be on thin ice if Zack Wheeler were promoted now. “If it was right now, if he came up today, then yeah I would probably be the one that gets sent down,” Hefner told Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger. “I’m realistic enough to know that, but I can’t control that.” Wheeler next pitches for Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday.
• After delivering a pinch-hit single in the eighth, Justin Turner remained in the game in left field -- his first outfield action since limited exposure in 2006 with Class A Billings. Turner, who had one spring-training appearance in the outfield in March, did not have any chances Wednesday -- just a homer over his head off the bat of Alex Rios. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Harvey discussed Tuesday’s flirtation with a perfect game with Mike Lupica on ESPN New York 98.7. Listen to the podcast here.
After 24 hours to enjoy his near perfection Tuesday, Matt Harvey is back to being all business.
Bill James once devised a method of determining how many no-hitters a pitcher could be expected to have pitched based on how often he allowed hits and how many games he started. While the method was somewhat accurate, with [Nolan] Ryan expected to have thrown the most, the same calculations effectively showed how hard it is to predict a no-hitter. Besides Ryan, the only pitchers reasonably expected to have thrown even one no-hitter over the course of their careers were Walter Johnson, Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens.
Clemens, who twice struck out 20 batters in a game, never threw a no-hitter at any level despite finishing his career with a higher expected no-hit total (1.07) than Sandy Koufax (0.92), who threw four.
Using the James method, it would take hundreds of starts for Harvey to be expected to throw a no-hitter regardless of how well he pitches, but his incredibly low hits per nine innings, which outpaced any of the pitchers at the top of James’s list, makes each of his starts intriguing as long as his current magic lasts.
Ron Darling, comparing Dwight Gooden with Harvey to columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record, said: “The results are about the same in their ability to win at-bats even in a hitter’s count. But whereas Doc was Baryshnikov, Harvey is more workmanlike. With Doc, it was all about the strikeouts; Harvey can defeat you in different ways because he has more pitches.”
Read more thoughts on Harvey’s outing after time to reflect in the Times, Newsday and Star-Ledger. By the way, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was among who texted Harvey after the dominating performance against the Sox.
• Cody Derespina in Newsday recreates the timeline of Mets PR man Jay Horwitz’s tweets about Harvey’s supposed intention to skip last night’s Mets game to watch the Rangers at MSG. Horwitz was joking, but some on Twitter took him literally. Read more in the Daily News.
• Frank Francisco worked a scoreless inning with two walks for Class A St. Lucie on Wednesday. Francisco, nearing activation from the disabled list after experiencing spring-training elbow inflammation, pitched for the third time in four days.
• Cesar Puello homered twice, Logan Verrett came within an out of his third career complete game and Jeff Walters produced his Eastern League-leading ninth save in Binghamton’s 3-1 win against Trenton. Aderlin Rodriguez had a walk-off single that plated T.J. Rivera as St. Lucie beat Daytona, 6-5, in 10 innings. Zach Lutz produced a three-run homer and Kirk Nieuwenhuis also went deep after replacing ejected Collin Cowgill, but starter Carlos Torres surrendered nine runs in four innings as Las Vegas lost to Round Rock, 9-5. Wally Backman also was ejected by the first-base ump after Cowgill was ruled out to end the fifth inning.
• White Sox left-hander Hector Santiago, who tossed seven scoreless innings opposite Harvey on Tuesday, talks in the Star-Ledger about his Newark roots. Santiago’s favorite player growing up: fellow southpaw John Franco.
• From the bloggers … Mike Baxter discusses the Mets' hitting approach with Metsmerized Online. … Mets Police offers some unofficial rules for Saturday’s Banner Day. … Faith and Fear reports on one Mets fan who experienced his own kind of perfection at Citi Field Tuesday. … John Delcos at Mets Report writes that it isn’t important for Harvey to pitch a no-hitter -- just to pitch.
BIRTHDAYS: Jerry Buchek, an infielder in the late ’60s with the Mets, was born on this date in 1942.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Horwitz's recent tweets have created a stir, though, among those who take him literally:
Because we only come to Colorado once, MLB has given the Mets and Rockies the go-ahead to play a triple header this week.11,4 and 8 times,— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) April 15, 2013
Have the start of flu coming on. Stopped on the way to park to pick up some Medical Marijuana.It's legal here you know.Game should be fun.— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) April 15, 2013
FIRST PITCH: Precisely one week from Opening Day, the Mets make a trip to Disney to face the Atlanta Braves at 1:05 p.m.
Dillon Gee, who has allowed 11 earned runs on 10 hits and five walks in six innings over his past two Grapefruit League starts, opposes left-hander Mike Minor.
Matt den Dekker's electrifying catches are on hold now that he has a broken right wrist.
• Matt den Dekker’s highlight-reel-filled spring training ended with a broken right wrist, which he suffered trying to brace himself in deep center on an attempted catch of a shot by Detroit’s Austin Jackson. Den Dekker will head to New York today, where team doctors will evaluate if surgery will be required. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Times, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Travis d’Arnaud was sent to minor league camp after hitting .343 in Grapefruit League play. If the Mets want to delay his arbitration eligibility by a year, they likely would have to wait until late June to promote d’Arnaud. Also headed to minor league camp: Brandon Hicks, who was outrighted off the 40-man roster, as well as Aaron Laffey, Andrew Brown, Brian Bixler and Jamie Hoffmann.
Hicks’ departure signals Omar Quintanilla will be Ruben Tejada’s backup at shortstop. And the departures of Hicks and Bixler seem to signal that Zach Lutz briefly would open the season with the club if Daniel Murphy were to land on the disabled list.
The Mets now have 36 in major league camp, although that includes players not ready to perform, such as Johan Santana (shoulder), Frank Francisco (elbow), Jenrry Mejia (forearm), Tim Byrdak (shoulder), David Wright (side), Murphy (side) and den Dekker.
Read more on the roster cuts in the Star-Ledger, Post, Newsday, Times and Record.
• Murphy went 1-for-2 with a walk and manned second base for five innings in a minor league game Sunday. That marked his first time seeing game pitching this spring training. Wright took live batting practice for the first time since being scratched from the World Baseball Classic game against the Dominican Republic. Wright still has some lingering inflammation on his left side, where he suffered an intercostal muscle strain.
"Mentally it's somewhat of a hurdle to get over, not knowing how it's going to feel when you swing," Wright told reporters about seeing the batting-practice pitching.
Terry Collins noted that a DL stint to open the season, if it were to occur, should be brief for either player. Because DL time can be backdated nine days into spring training, Murphy or Wright could miss as little as the first six days/five games of the season.
Read more in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Times, Post, Record, Journal and MLB.com.
• Lutz homered and had three RBIs and Laffey was roughed up four runs in three innings as the Mets won a split-squad game in Jupiter, 10-7, against the Cardinals. Back in Port St. Lucie, Matt Harvey surrendered four runs in five innings and Brandon Lyon surrendered five runs while recording only one out as the Mets lost to the Tigers, 9-4. Read more in the Daily News and MLB.com.
• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post predicts five outfielders who could become available via trade in the next nine months: Andre Ethier, Carlos Gonzalez, Giancarlo Stanton, Chase Headley and Josh Willingham.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis discusses with Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger a disappointing spring training that included suffering a bone bruise on his left knee. Nieuwenhuis now is expected to open the season with Triple-A Las Vegas.
• Brian Costa in the Journal profiles Mets PR man Jay Horwitz’s propensity for pocket-dialing current and former Mets. "When I got back to my locker, I checked my phone and the missed call was from 8:10 p.m.," Ike Davis told Costa. "I'm like, why would he call me at that time? I'm at first base. He sees me at first base."
• There's an unflattering profile of Lenny Dykstra in the Post.
• From the bloggers … At Mets Police, Mike V's Countdown to Opening Day stops at 2003. Tom Glavine took over as ace, David Cone was back and 53,586 showed up at Shea to "Experience It!"
BIRTHDAYS: Tom Glavine isn’t devastated to be turning 47. …. Lee Mazzilli turns 58.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets have had Travis d’Arnaud start the season in the majors, even if it means him becoming eligible for free agency after the 2018 season instead of after the 2019 season?
@adamrubinespn Adam, what are the chances we see the return of Moises alou this year in a met uniform?— Steve Watt (@a1000watts) March 24, 2013
Rafael Montero returns to Grapefruit League action for a cameo today.
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez starts for the Nats.
Montero, 22, went a combined 11-5 with a 2.36 ERA in 20 starts between Savannah and St. Lucie in Class A in 2012. He had allowed two runs in four innings in Grapefruit League play this spring training before being among the first reassignments to the minor-league side.
Saturday’s news reports:
• Shaun Marcum (shoulder) will reenter the rotation Thursday and is lined up for the second game of the regular season, after Jonathon Niese gets Opening Day, a team insider told ESPNNewYork.com. Matt Harvey should get Game 3, followed by Dillon Gee and then Jeremy Hefner. The Mets have not resolved whether to use Niese twice before turning to Hefner, or whether to just go straight through the rotation in order.
• Terry Collins confirmed the obvious: Johan Santana will not break camp with the Mets. Read more in the Record, Newsday, Times, Daily News and MLB.com.
• Sandy Alderson says the Mets will go with what they’ve got in the outfield and not seek outside help. The projected outfield is Lucas Duda, Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill, Jordany Valdespin and Mike Baxter.
"I think we've got a sense of who the five or six are who might be on the team," Alderson told Marc Carig in Newsday. "How exactly they're used is something that we'll talk about over the next week or so. What we have is what we're going to have, and we're not entirely displeased with that."
• Daniel Murphy (side) will not play in a minor league game today as hope continues to fade about him being ready for Opening Day. David Wright (side) did field grounders, run and toss a baseball Friday. Justin Turner (ankle) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (knee) played in the field for the first time in a minor league game. Read more in Newsday.
• Almost-forgotten Frank Francisco told the Post he will throw live batting practice Sunday and should be in a minor league game midweek. He is due to open the season on the DL.
Neither Captain America nor David Wright has a "C" displayed.
“You just saw the way David gravitated toward Joe McEwing, who had a great work ethic, and Joe kind of took him under his wing,” Franco told Mike Puma in the Post about Wright’s first spring training in major league camp. “And you would just see the way David would handle himself around the clubhouse, and he knew exactly where he belonged. He knew what to do and what not to do and he just always had a smile on his face, and to this day he still does have a smile on his face.
“The three previous captains, we came from other organizations,” Franco continued. “David has grown with this organization, so he’s been here a long time and is deserving.”
Teammates also praised the captainship decision, writes Kristie Ackert in the Daily News.
• Andrew Keh in the Times examines the Mets’ use of the TrackMan radar tracking system, which can chart a pitchers’ release point, angle of his pitches and spin rate. The data system has been used in golf for years. “We don’t really know exactly what the teams do with it,” TrackMan baseball GM John Olshan told Keh about the data. “We give the rubber. They make the tires.”
• Since opening Grapefruit League play with a homer against Stephen Strasburg, Ruben Tejada is 3-for-39. Collins said that Tejada had been trying to pull too many pitches early in spring training.
"Right now I’m thinking more than anything on feeling good instead of the results," Tejada told Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger. "I’m trying to take a lot of pitches and make good contact because the results right now don’t matter. It’s more about feeling comfortable at home plate."
• Josh Rodriguez had a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth and Niese logged five innings as the Mets beat the Marlins, 4-2, Friday night. Read more in Newsday and MLB.com.
• Jay Horwitz’s Twitter account gets more attention in the Times, this time for accidentally slighting R.A. Dickey.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal delves into a baseball clubhouse tradition: crossword puzzles. Hefner, Scott Rice and Scott Atchison are most active.
• From the bloggers … The Eddie Kranepool Society discusses who has to come up big for this season not to be a disaster. … Faith and Fear in Flushing offers praise for Wright ... and Hefner.
BIRTHDAYS: Reliever Mike Remlinger, who pitched for the Mets in the mid-’90s during a 14-year major league career, turns 47.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets stand pat and make no acquisitions before Opening Day?
Managemen DM 'lifestyle modification' dilakukan saat pertama kali terdiagnosa tnpa komplikasi, tnpa emergensi, tanpa fktr resiko lain #Mets— Noorcahya Amalia (@ucha_amalia) March 23, 2013
FIRST PITCH: Dillon Gee and the Mets face the Detroit Tigers this afternoon at 1:10 at Tradition Field.
Detroit hit five Mets batters with pitches in two games in the past week, including Jordany Valdespin in the groin.
Right-hander Doug Fister starts for the Tigers. Also due to pitch for the Mets: LaTroy Hawkins, Pedro Feliciano, Greg Burke and Josh Edgin.
Thursday’s news reports:
• Johan Santana spoke with ESPNNewYork.com about the state of his shoulder. As for criticism he is not in pitching shape, Santana said: “I've been here every single day. I've been doing everything the way they asked me to. I've been working out, keeping track of everything.” Terry Collins said Santana is “not too close” to stepping on a mound. Sandy Alderson and Santana spoke earlier this week to get on the same page. Read more in Newsday, the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Record, Post and MLB.com.
Matt Harvey allowed a three-run homer to Bryce Harper but no other damage in four innings Wednesday.
• If David Wright is dubbed “Captain America,” it stands to reason he will be captain of the Mets as well, right? Well, the Mets are being tightlipped, but it looks like that honor will happen once he returns to camp.
Wright and Team USA try to advance to the semifinals in San Francisco when they face Robinson Cano and the Dominican Republic tonight at 7 in Miami. The loser would need to subsequently defeat Puerto Rico in order to join the Final Four at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. Writes David Lennon in Newsday:
Wright's teammates had a laugh with the whole Captain America nickname Wednesday morning at the team's breakfast meeting. Instead of the usual place-setting with his name, Wright's card had his head superimposed on the costumed body of Captain America.
"They were having fun with it," Wright said. "I think they're about as tired of it as probably everybody else is. It's a cool superhero, so I'm thrilled about that, at least."
One person who hopes that Wright keeps his comic-book powers for another game is tonight's starter, R.A. Dickey, who didn't have his best knuckleball in the first-round loss to Mexico. As for the nickname, Dickey thinks it's a good fit, but added, "We don't have a shield for him or anything.
"I think he's stepping forward on a team full of superstars," Dickey said, "and kind of becoming that visual leader."
Read more in the Times, Post, Daily News and MLB.com.
• Daniel Murphy (side-muscle strain) should play in a game this weekend on the minor league side. … Kirk Nieuwenhuis (bruised knee) may resume outdoor baseball activities today.
• Valdespin said he erred in not wearing a cup -- a mistake he vows never to repeat. Read more on Valdespin in the Journal.
• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger notes Mets pitchers began hitting in Grapefruit League games Wednesday. Writes Andrew Keh in the Times:
As a group, the Mets’ pitchers batted .155, the third-highest average in the National League after the Nationals’ and the Cincinnati Reds’ [in 2012]. And their pitchers boasted the lowest strikeout rate of any N.L. team, at 27.7 percent.
Hitting numbers for pitchers involve small sample sizes -- N.L. teams tend to get just under 400 total plate appearances from their pitchers -- and many circumstantial factors. Owing partly to this, perhaps, the Mets’ statistics have varied significantly from year to year.
In 2010, the Mets’ pitchers batted .171, the league’s fourth-best average. One season later, their .104 average was the league’s second worst. Relative to the batting averages of players at other positions, even the highest averages among pitchers seem comically low. But players and coaches insist they matter.
• The Mets have only “marginal” interest in outfielder Brennan Boesch, according to the Post. Boesch was released by the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. The lefty hitter had a .240 average and .286 OBP with 12 homers in 470 at-bats last season.
• From the bloggers … Shannon from Mets Police isn't having trouble finding 12 seats together for Opening Day and wonders how ticket sales are going. … John Delcos at New York Mets Report makes a case for Matt den Dekker to make the club. … Faith and Fear in Flushing explores the inevitable downfall of Santana -- and every other superstar athlete.
BIRTHDAYS: Reliever Josh Stinson, a waiver claim by the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of last year’s spring training, turns 25.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: What do you make of Jay Horwitz dressing up as Captain America’s sidekick Bucky?
In case you can't open video,Bucky is wishing his boss Captain America luck tomorrow against the Dominican Republic. twitter.com/Jay_HorwitzPR/…— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) March 13, 2013
FIRST PITCH: The Mets get their first glimpse of the Atlanta Braves this afternoon as Tim Hudson and crew visit Tradition Field.
Jeremy Hefner, who might be the rotation alternative if Johan Santana cannot get ready for the start of the season, pitches for the Mets, along with Rafael Montero and Bobby Parnell.
Monday’s news reports:
• Santana was displeased with all the attention he received Sunday, a day after Sandy Alderson said he the southpaw did not come into camp in pitching shape and suggested it might be 10 days before Santana stepped onto a mound. Perhaps driven by the negative attention, pitching coach Dan Warthen suggested, Santana threw off a mound Sunday for the first time since Feb. 19. Catcher Anthony Recker set up in front of the plate to cut the distance during the light session.
Johan Santana was not a happy camper Sunday.
Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post isn’t impressed with how the Mets handled the Santana issue. Writes Sherman:
All in all, this was another Amway moment for the Mets. There was nothing technically wrong with how either party behaved -- like there is nothing technically wrong with partnering with a company that has been accused of being a pyramid scheme. It just looks terrible when this organization is trying to regain credibility that it is trustworthy and knows what it is doing.
Here were the Mets claiming to have both monitored Santana this offseason -- which Alderson said they did -- and being shocked he did so little work he was not ready to pitch at the outset.
Read more in the Record, Newsday, Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis suffered a left-knee injury stealing second Sunday. Read more in the Daily News and MLB.com.
• Dillon Gee tossed three scoreless innings in his first appearance against major leaguers since undergoing surgery at last year’s All-Star break and John Buck produced a three-run homer against his former club, but the Mets lost to the Marlins, 6-4, Sunday in Jupiter, Fla. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Warthen told Mike Kerwick in the Record he hopes to have Zack Wheeler (oblique) back on a mound midweek and in a game in about seven days.
• David Lennon in Newsday notes Mike Piazza did himself little favor with his autobiography if he hoped to be honored by the Mets. Writes Lennon:
The committee for the franchise's own Hall of Fame has yet to meet on any of this year's candidates, including Piazza, but the Mets weren't thrilled by some of the catcher's comments about the club in "Long Shot." COO Jeff Wilpon, who has the last word on both the Hall of Fame's recommendations and the retired numbers, was criticized in the book as Piazza claimed Wilpon urged him to play with an injury in a spring-training game because it was a sellout. Piazza also ripped longtime media relations director Jay Horwitz, who happens to be a member of the Mets' HOF committee, for not doing a better job of shielding the team's players.
"I felt he was more loyal to the writers and the broadcasters than he was to the players," Piazza wrote.
Are a few stinging sentences enough for one of the Mets' most popular stars of the past two decades to be alienated? That depends. Piazza also declined an invitation to attend SNY's unveiling of the team's 50 greatest players last year (he was No. 6) and team officials buzzed about that dis for months. There is little -- if any -- communication these days between Piazza and the Mets, who are confused as to why he's pulled away to this degree.
• Mets bullpen coach Ricky Bones has left camp to serve as the pitching coach for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
• Ken Belson in the Times takes a look at the team’s Mr. Met hats. Belson writes that teams are permitted to wear these new spring-training caps during regular-season games as well, although the Mets would not say if they planned to do so.
• Third base used to be a revolving door for the Mets. But since mid-2004, and presumably now for another eight seasons, it will belong to David Wright. So Jared Diamond in the Journal asked players who also man that position in camp what it feels like to be boxed out. The Mets are playing Wilmer Flores at second base, not third base, in Grapefruit League games -- although the in-season plan apparently remains for Flores to be used at both spots. Writes Diamond:
Since 2005, only one player has appeared in more games at any position for one team than Wright's 1,184 at third with the Mets: Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano (1,197). And while Cano's impending free agency makes his future with the Yankees murky, Wright will likely be a Met for life. … That leaves any third baseman in the Mets system with two options: pray for a trade that may never come -- or find a new position.
"I can't be David Wright. I'm not trying to be David Wright," said Zach Lutz, who has played 269 minor-league games at third base over the past six seasons.
• Jeff Wilpon told Jon Heyman at CBSSports.com he is rooting for Jason Bay to succeed in Seattle. The Mets still owe Bay $21 million this year, but they deferred $15 million of that sum.
"I wish Jason nothing but the best," Wilpon said. "He was a great teammate. He did everything he could. He put in a lot of work, and he was always at his locker. He's a stand-up guy. It just didn't work out. It was best for him and for us to part ways. If he was a jerk, maybe I'd feel differently. But he's a great person. I'll root for Jason Bay 100 times out of 100 times."
• From the bloggers … The Eddie Kranepool Society suggests the Mets need Santana ready in July, at the trade deadline, not on Opening Day. … Mike V's Countdown to Opening Day at Mets Police stops off at 1998. It marked the first regular-season game played in New York City in March.
BIRTHDAYS: Jack Fisher, who lost 24 games for the ’65 Mets despite a 3.94 ERA, was born in 1939.
TWEET OF THE DAY: Jenrry Mejia, Collin McHugh or Aaron Laffey?
Johan Santana now might be 10 days from getting on a mound, according to Sandy Alderson.
FIRST PITCH: Johan Santana had torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee repaired after the 2008 season. He had his elbow cleaned out the following year. Then, in 2010, his season was cut short to undergo surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, which forced him to rehab for two straight offseasons.
So, in essence, Santana rehabbed rather than had a routine winter after each of his first four seasons as a Met.
This time, before arriving at camp, the soon-to-be-34-year-old Santana decided to have a less-taxing-than-normal offseason, figuring a long spring training would allow him plenty of time to prepare. He instead learned his body does not cooperate like it did in his 20s, and he could not ramp up at the rate he could earlier in his career.
Is anyone to blame for Santana arriving at camp not in pitching shape? Probably not, but that doesn’t temper the disappointment that Santana may not be ready for the start of the season. And, at least anonymously, for some in the organization to start chirping and pointing fingers.
Writes columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News:
They want us to believe it is Santana’s fault he hasn’t been able to throw a pitch in earnest this spring and won’t be ready for Opening Day to take his spot at the top of the Mets rotation. As if Santana, whom they have always acknowledged to be one of the greatest competitors ever to wear the Met blue and orange, would deliberately take a winter siesta when he knows he will be pitching for a new contract this year.
The problem for [Sandy] Alderson and Mets ownership is that they deluded themselves into believing the soon-to-be 34-year-old Santana, though shut down the final six weeks of last season, … was going to reemerge as the unquestioned leader of the staff and fully earn the remaining $25.5 million on his contract.
Santana chatted with Terry Collins on Saturday and indicated he still intends to be ready for the start of the season. But Collins allowed for the fact that Santana may open the year on the disabled list. With DL backdating rules, which allow nine days of the 15-day DL stint to be served during spring training, Santana would only be required to miss the first six days of the regular season -- or one start.
Sandy Alderson now says Santana is about 10 days from mound activity and “less and less likely” to be ready for the regular season.
Meanwhile, the Mets visit Jupiter on Sunday to face the Marlins. Dillon Gee, Cory Mazzoni, Scott Rice and Josh Edgin are scheduled to pitch. Nathan Eovaldi starts for Miami. See the Mets' full travel roster here.
Sunday’s news reports:
• Columnist David Lennon in Newsday writes:
If Santana needs to be pushed back any further, and the first week of the season gets flushed, he'll deserve plenty of blame. As the highest-paid Met, at a guaranteed $31 million this season, Santana can't be putting the team in this situation.
Read more on Santana in the Post, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.
Matt Harvey pitched Saturday, after closely watching Justin Verlander the previous day.
• Lucas Duda doubled and homered to break out of an early Grapefruit League rut as the Mets rallied to tie the Marlins, 8-8, Saturday at Tradition Field. Read more in Newsday.
• It’s getting to be a near-certainty that Bobby Parnell opens the season as the closer, with Frank Francisco on the DL.
• Shaun Marcum, LaTroy Hawkins and Pedro Feliciano all are due to pitch in a “B” game Tuesday in Jupiter, Fla., against the Marlins.
• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post notes that despite the hype about the Mets’ young pitching, prospects are prospects for a reason. Writes Sherman:
This is the time of year when all the prospects will reach their ceilings, when there is a whitewash on logic, an ignoring of history that screams this warning: Dreams hardly ever honor the script.
This is the most encouraged the Mets have been about their young arms since the mid-1990s. Going into the 1995 season, they had three of the top 15 pitching prospects in the sport, according to Baseball America. This was Generation K. This was Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson and Jason Isringhausen, and the promise of Doc and Darling and Sid Fernandez redux.
But the Mets actually got more from the guy who was ranked as the best pitching prospect in the majors that year than any member of Generation K -- that was Armando Benitez (sorry, Mets fans).
• Despite not yet reaching the majors, center-field prospect Matt den Dekker has appeared four different times (not three, as previously reported) on SportsCenter’s top-10 plays. The first two times came while playing for the University of Florida, including a play in the College World Series. The other two have come in spring-training games, in 2011 and then reaching over the wall to take away a homer from the Nats’ Anthony Rendon last week. Read more on den Dekker’s highlight-reel catches in the Times.
• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger has a Q&A with infielder Josh Satin about playing for Team Israel in World Baseball Classic qualifying in October. Israel lost in the qualifying tournament’s final game to Spain.
• Prospect Erik Goeddel will avoid surgery and does not have vision trouble after being struck in the face with a baseball.
• In the Star-Ledger, infielders discuss dabbling in the outfield at the request of Terry Collins.
• Wally Backman tells columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record he wants a major league managerial gig, but not Collins to fail.
• Mets PR man Jay Horwitz’s Twitter account gets more coverage, this time in the Daily News.
• From the bloggers … At MetsPolice.com, Shannon is having a tough time getting into watching spring training. … As David Wright departs for the World Baseball Classic, Metsmerized Online asserts the tournament is not a nuisance.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever Jorge Julio -- or Julio Jorge, according to Anna Benson -- turns 34.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Given the Mets only gave up Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra for Johan Santana (in addition to agreeing to pay the southpaw $137.5 million over six years), was the Santana trade a bust?
Wearing Wright's uniform today gave me flashbacks to my LL days. Couldn't hit. All I did was bunt.— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) March 2, 2013
Before departing for the WBC on Saturday, David Wright stopped by the complex and got PR man Jay Horwitz to slip into the third baseman's uniform. The idea came from an early morning tweet from @Jay_HorwitzPR, who wrote: "Now that David Wright has left for WBC, thinking of dressing up in his uniform today. Will anyone know the difference? Look about the same."
FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey takes the mound at 1:10 p.m. at Tradition Field as the Mets face the Miami Marlins.
Alex Sanabia starts for Miami. Ricky Nolasco and ex-Met John Maine will pitch in a Marlins intrasquad game back in Jupiter, Fla., instead of facing the Mets.
Saturday’s news reports:
• David Wright is headed to Phoenix today to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic. Read more in the Record, Journal, Star-Ledger, Daily News and MLB.com.
David Wright is off to the World Baseball Classic.
There is the inherent problem that baseball is a serial game that determines its best teams over extended periods rather than in a World Cup fashion. You also have the issue of just how game-ready these players are to perform at a high level and what kind of cohesion can be expected from such a hurried arrangement.
But more troubling is this tournament begins overshadowed by who is not attending rather than who is. For example, none of the Japanese players on major league rosters such as Ichiro Suzuki, Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish are playing for Team Japan. Arguably the three best pitchers in the world -- Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander -- are not playing in the World Baseball Classic.
• Jonathon Niese tossed three scoreless innings and Justin Turner contributed a two-run single as the Mets beat the Tigers, 6-2, Friday at Tradition Field. Mike Puma in the Post writes that Niese’s changeup, which he threw far more in the second half of last season than during the first, is getting better and better.
• Terry Collins said Niese would be the alternative to start Opening Day if Johan Santana is not ready. Santana instead could start Game 3 of the season, on April 4 against the San Diego Padres, according to the manager. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Post, Daily News, Record and MLB.com.
• Collins expects Bobby Parnell will be the closer to start the season. Frank Francisco may not ready for that role because he suffered elbow inflammation early in camp. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Lucas Duda was pulled from Friday’s lineup and may not be available today because of an undisclosed medical issue that Sandy Alderson said was minor. Read more in Newsday.
• Daniel Murphy hit off a tee and could be in a Grapefruit League game in about nine days.
• Pedro Feliciano threw off a mound Friday while wearing a heart monitor.
• Tim Byrdak returned to camp. He aims to be throwing off a mound by the end of spring training as he rehabs from shoulder surgery. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Andrew Keh in the Times examines Mets media relations director Jay Horwitz’s use of Twitter. “I’m old school, but Jeff [Wilpon] has been on me for a long time now to get with the program,” Horwitz told Keh. “I wasn’t quite resisting, but I’m not really mechanical. I didn’t think I could do it. I’m not adept at this type of stuff. But when your boss says something to you enough times, you do it.”
• From the bloggers … At Mets Police, Shannon imagines what might have happened had the Mets signed Tom Seaver to a three-year extension in June 1977.
BIRTHDAYS: Chico Fernandez was born on this date in 1932.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Jon Niese would start Opening Day if Johan Santana is not ready. Who is the Mets’ ace?
Now that David Wright has left for WBC, thinking of dressing up in his uniform today. Will anyone know the difference? Lookabout the same.— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) March 2, 2013
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