New York Mets: Jeffrey Loria
Associated Press/Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Jose Fernandez, Kevin Slowey and Wade LeBlanc during their series in Miami this week.
Monday: RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.54) vs. RHP Jose Fernandez (0-2, 4.50), 7:10 p.m. ET
Tuesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 5.12) vs. RHP Kevin Slowey (0-2, 2.43), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (1-4, 5.96) vs. LHP Wade LeBlanc (0-4, 6.20), 12:40 p.m. ET
Marlins short hops
• Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton finally homered Saturday, in his 75th plate appearance of the season. Stanton, who led the National League in slugging percentage in 2012, added two more homers Sunday. He went RBI-less in his first 12 games of the season, but has produced nine RBIs in his past seven games.
Giancarlo Stanton has belted three homers in his past two games.
• Rookie Jose Fernandez has allowed nine runs in nine innings over his past two starts. He has been kept on a tight pitch count. He has thrown 80, 85, 79 and 79 pitches in his four major league starts. Fernandez, who allowed only two homers in 138 1/3 minor league innings (all in Class A), surrendered his first big league long ball Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins. Oswaldo Arcia took the 20-year-old Fernandez deep.
Fernandez, a Cuban defector, was taken with the 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of high school in Tampa. The Mets selected outfielder Brandon Nimmo one pick earlier. Besides Fernandez, three of the other first 100 picks in that ’11 draft have reached the majors: right-hander Trevor Bauer, third overall, UCLA, Arizona Diamondbacks; right-hander Dylan Bundy, fourth overall, Owasso (Okla.) H.S., Baltimore Orioles; and outfielder Jackie Bradley, 40th overall, University of South Carolina, Boston Red Sox.
• Owner Jeffrey Loria created another stir when he was accused in a report of dictating which game of a day-night doubleheader Fernandez pitched in Minnesota. Loria denied a role.
• Ex-Minnesota Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey is winless through five starts despite a 2.43 ERA. The Marlins have scored a total of six runs in Slowey’s five outings. Slowey did not appear in the majors last season. He made eight Triple-A starts with the Cleveland Indians in 2012 before being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his rib cage.
Mike Redmond, the first-year Marlins manager, caught Slowey’s major league debut on June 1, 2007. Slowey limited Bob Geren’s Oakland Athletics to one run in six innings in an eventual 3-2, 10-inning win.
• Stony Brook University product Tom Koehler joined the Marlins’ bullpen on April 19, replacing John Maine, who was designated for assignment. Maine, in his first major league duty since 2010 with the Mets, allowed 15 hits and 10 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings spanning four appearances.
• Closer Steve Cishek has three losses and a blown save and has allowed runs in six of 11 appearances this season. He earned his third save Sunday despite surrendering a homer to the Cubs’ Dioner Navarro.
• Rookie Joe Mahoney is day to day with right hamstring tightness. Mahoney had taken over for plug Greg Dobbs at first base in Casey Kotchman and Logan Morrison’s absences before this hamstring issue arose. Mahoney is a waiver claim from the Baltimore Orioles. He played at Triple-A Norfolk in 2012. The 26-year-old Mahoney was activated from the DL on April 17 after recovering from an oblique injury.
The Mets will need to clear a roster spot for Shaun Marcum. The candidates (l to r): Jeurys Familia, Robert Carson and Josh Edgin.
Marcum received injections on April 4 to calm an inflamed nerve that was causing pain in his neck and shoulder. He never appeared in an official minor league rehab game, instead pitching in extended spring training against low-level competition. Marcum threw 52 pitches in five scoreless innings Monday in Florida, then continued to toss on the side to try to up his pitch count. He likely will be capped at roughly 90 pitches today, Terry Collins indicated.
The Mets will need to make a pregame roster move, subtracting a member from the bullpen, in order to clear room for Marcum. Josh Edgin has struggled badly, although he had a 1-2-3 ninth Friday. The alternatives: Jeurys Familia or, seemingly less likely, Robert Carson. Familia tossed two scoreless innings in the series opener against Philadelphia. That workload led to speculation he may be out.
Marcum faces right-hander Jonathan Pettibone in the rookie’s second major league start.
Saturday’s news reports:
• The Mets dropped below .500 for the first time this season with a 4-0 loss to the Phillies in Friday’s series opener. Dillon Gee matched zeroes with Kyle Kendrick until the sixth, when Gee surrendered a run-scoring single to Michael Young and three-run homer to Ryan Howard. Kendrick produced a three-hit shutout. It marked the fourth time in five games the Mets mustered five hits or fewer. Perhaps recognizing the Mets like to take pitches, Kendrick threw a season-high 71 percent first-pitch strikes, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Howard, the active home run leader against the Mets with 36, now has four homers in 12 career at-bats against Gee. That is the most homers Gee has surrendered to any player. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and MLB.com.
• Collins preached patience and insisted any consideration about demoting Ike Davis is a long way away. The manager tried to compare Davis’ struggles to the woes of Matt Kemp, who arrived in Queens with the Dodgers this week homerless. Yet Kemp still was respected by the Mets as a dangerous bat, according to Collins.
"I looked at Matt Kemp’s numbers the other day," Collins said. "They weren’t very good for Matt Kemp. I’m still scared to death of him. And you can be sure that the Philadelphia Phillies, when Ike Davis gets in the batter’s box, they’re worried, because they know he’s going to get out of it."
Davis was dropped to No. 7 in Friday’s lineup and went 0-for-2 with a walk. His average dipped to .169. Read more in the Record, Post and Star-Ledger.
• Collins’ Friday lineup juggling also included Daniel Murphy moving into the No. 3 slot and David Wright to cleanup, both for the first time this season. Read more in the Times.
• Read more on Marcum’s Mets debut and the impending roster move in the Journal, Post and Star-Ledger.
• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post analyzes the state of the struggling Phillies and Washington Nationals, and wonders if the Mets will make a trade if those teams stumble and the Mets end up more in contention than they thought. Writes Davidoff:
The Mets say they have the funds to add payroll during the season, and their prospect/trade chip base has grown with the development of pitchers like Rafael Montero, Luis Mateo and Cory Mazzoni. Will they have cause to make a move, courtesy of the Phillies and Nationals? I’d like to see it, just to learn whether the Mets would live up to their word. After a night like this, though, you wonder whether the possibility of the 2013 Mets being relevant is the true mirage.
• In a batter of young NL East phenoms, Matt Harvey is scheduled to oppose Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez on Monday in Miami. Fernandez, who limited the Mets to one run in five innings in his major league debut on April 7, had allowed nine runs in nine innings over his past two starts -- at Cincinnati and at Minnesota.
In Miami, lightning-rod owner Jeffrey Loria denied influencing which game of a doubleheader Fernandez pitched at Minnesota this week, according to Manny Navarro in the Miami Herald.
• Catcher Carlos Ruiz is due to join the Phillies on Sunday after completing a 25-game suspension for amphetamines. "It's been a little hard for me," Ruiz told John Smallwood in the Philadelphia Daily News while rehabbing with Double-A Reading. "Definitely, I would like to be with the team. I want to help the ballclub win games. But now it's just about over. I'm real close, and I can't wait to see [Sunday]. It was tough, but at the same time, you had to prepare yourself to be ready for when you came back. I'm not happy with what happened, but there was nothing I could do except work every day."
Aaron Laffey was ineffective Friday night in the Bronx after being claimed by the Jays.
Richard Griffin in the Toronto Star notes Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has made a massive number of waiver claims. Writes Griffin:
The Jays have made 21 such claims since Oct. 17, 2012. That is crazy high. Here is the list: OF Scott Cousins; RH Cory Wade; RH Tyson Brummett; C Bobby Wilson; RH David Herndon; RH Chad Beck (twice); LH Scott Maine; C Eli Whiteside; RH Mickey Storey; IF Russ Canzler; RH Tommy Hottovy; 1B Lars Anderson; RH Guillermo Moscoso; RH Todd Redmond; 1B Clint Robinson; RH Alex Burnett; RH Edgar Gonzalez; 1B Mauro Gomez; OF Casper Wells and Laffey. Only eight of the 20 different claims (Beck twice) are still in the organization. Only Laffey is on the Jays’ 25-man roster. Only Laffey, Robinson, Gomez and Redmond remain on the 40-man roster.
• Howard Johnson, back in baseball as the first-year hitting coach for Triple-A Tacoma (Seattle Mariners), is in Las Vegas this weekend facing Mets-affiliate Las Vegas. Regarding 51s manager Wally Backman getting a major league managerial gig, HoJo told the Las Vegas Sun: “One of these days, Wally is going to get a shot. I would love to be one of his coaches. It’s important to have people that you know and trust. We go back a long way and share a lot of the same experiences.”
• Zack Wheeler is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in five starts with Las Vegas. He has allowed 26 hits and 15 walks while striking out 28 in 23 1/3 innings. Opposing Pacific Coast League batters are hitting .283 against him.
“His velocity is good and his mechanics are good,” Sandy Alderson told columnist John Harper in the Daily News. “That’s what’s most important. And he threw well for four innings [Thursday]. We’re looking for his development as opposed to his line scores. But there’s no question it’s a big adjustment pitching in that league.”
Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Rafael Montero suffered his first 2013 loss as Binghamton was blanked by Akron, 4-0. Montero (3-1, 1.95 ERA) allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out eight. Dustin Lawley homered twice as St. Lucie beat Bradenton, 5-2. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Jonathan Lehman in the Post profiles Binghamton left-handed reliever Jack Leathersich. Although he allowed two hits and a walk last night, Leathersich also struck out three in a scoreless ninth to keep his ERA at 0.00 for the season. The 2011 fifth-round pick from UMass-Lowell has 157 Ks in 95 2/3 professional innings.
• ESPN West Palm launched a weekly video segment featuring the St. Lucie Mets. Watch the first installment here.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing realizes some losses are less miserable than inevitable. … Shannon from Mets Police has some thoughts about the Mets’ efforts on social media.
BIRTHDAYS: Smithtown, Long Island’s Frank Catalanotto is 39. … Orber Moreno turns 36. … Eric Hillman is 47. … Brian Giles turns 53.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Who should the Mets demote/release from the bullpen to clear a roster spot for Shaun Marcum?
My secret life before the Mets has come out. Posed for January,1979 issue of GQ. twitter.com/Jay_HorwitzPR/…— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) April 26, 2013
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Anthony Recker and Aaron Laffey are expected to make their Mets debuts as Sunday's battery.
Laffey, who turns 28 in eight days, went 4-6 with a 4.56 ERA in 22 appearances (16 starts) for the Toronto Blue Jays last season.
Terry Collins indicated Anthony Recker will serve as Laffey’s batterymate, after John Buck caught the season’s first five games and produced nine RBIs.
Marcum received injections in his neck for nerve inflammation on Thursday in New York. He has not pitched in a game since March 16, when he logged four Grapefruit League innings. So Laffey, or someone, will need to plug several turns in the rotation at least.
The Mets will be aiming to win consecutive series to open the season for only the second time in 11 years.
After the series finale, the Mets head to Philadelphia to open a three-city, 10-game trip that also takes them to Target Field in Minnesota for the first time, then to Coors Field in Denver.
Matt Harvey faces Roy Halladay in Monday’s series opener at Citizens Bank Park, followed by Dillon Gee and Cliff Lee on Tuesday, and Jeremy Hefner and Kyle Kendrick on Wednesday.
Sunday’s news reports:
• Buck contributed four RBIs and Daniel Murphy produced a tiebreaking triple in the seventh that plated Mike Baxter as the Mets beat the Marlins, 7-3, Saturday. Jonathon Niese limited Miami to two runs (one earned) in six innings. The performance extended the southpaw’s streak of consecutive starts logging six-plus innings to 22, the longest active mark in the majors.
David Wright finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and upped his career average against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco to .409 in the victory. Ruben Tejada committed his fourth error in five games.
Even though he is viewed as a placeholder -- heck, Travis d’Arnaud, not Buck was featured in the Mets’ Citi Field calendar giveaway -- Buck nonetheless has an NL-leading nine RBIs. That’s one ahead of Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier, although not quite Chris Davis’ gaudy total of 17 with the Baltimore Orioles. Mets catchers combined for 48 RBIs all of last season.
Read game recaps in the Post, Times, Newsday, Record, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel.
• Jeurys Familia was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas after Saturday’s game to clear a roster spot for Laffey. Familia is expected to serve as a reliever. The Mets shifted Johan Santana to the 60-day DL to open a 40-man spot. Read more in Newsday and MLB.com.
• Cuban defector Jose Fernandez -- at 20 years old the youngest pitcher ever to debut for the Marlins -- makes his major league debut opposite Laffey. Clark Spencer in the Miami Herald reports only three pitchers since 1970 have made the jump from Class A to the majors and logged 100 innings as rookies: Dwight Gooden, Jeremy Bonderman and Rick Porcello. Fernandez should be unflappable notes Juan Rodriguez in the Sun-Sentinel. Writes Rodriguez:
Cuban defector Jose Fernandez makes his major league debut today at Citi Field.
Making his major league debut for Fernandez is the fulfillment of a dream, considerably earlier than most expected.
"When she sees me throw the first pitch she's going to start crying like crazy," said Fernandez, whose parents and personal pitching coach were among those flying up from Tampa Saturday for the Sunday matinee. "[My mom] has been more emotional than me about this. She can't believe it. Every day it's the same text. 'I can't believe this is happening. You're ready. You're so young and you already have your dream. You had it in your mind. I'm proud of you.'"
As for making Fernandez eligible for free agency a year early by having him start the season with the team, which the Mets are unwilling to do with Zack Wheeler, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told Spencer: “So what? We’ll deal with it. He’s unique.”
• Baseball America has a Q&A with Mets scouting director Tommy Tanous. Read here.
• Umpire Jim Joyce briefly halted Saturday’s game in the eighth inning and conferred with security after fans were shouting the location Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo was setting up for pitches, Buck told Marc Carig in Newsday.
• Terry Collins said the outfield won’t be as consistent as predicted only a week earlier. Baxter, who reached base three times and scored twice while batting in the leadoff spot, should start again Monday against Halladay in Philly, according to the manager.
Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post wants more Baxter in the leadoff spot against right-handed pitching. Writes Davidoff:
We know the Mets’ outfield is a collection of modestly compensated has-beens and could-bes. However, what stands out about Baxter is just how good he has been in his limited major-league chances. He now has a career on-base percentage of .363 in 270 plate appearances. It constitutes barely half a season, but doesn’t that match favorably against Cowgill, Marlon Byrd, Jordany Valdespin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, three of whom own virtually no big-league success and the fourth of whom (Byrd) hasn’t been good for many years?
“He takes a base on balls,” Collins said. “If he was a genuine base-stealer, he’d be dangerous. You look up, and he’s got a .375 on-base. It seems like he’s on first base all of the time.”
Read more on the outfield in Newsday and the Star-Ledger.
• Ike Davis is hitting .158, but is unalarmed. "At least I know that I'll be all right," Davis said, according to Newsday. "Last year, I didn't."
• Niese is looking like an ace, writes columnist Tim Smith in the Daily News.
• Read more on Buck in the Post.
• Tejada’s four errors are tied with Washington’s Ian Desmond for the most in the majors among shortstops. Read more on Tejada’s fielding woes in the Daily News and Post.
• Left-hander Steven Matz, who finished last season idle with a shoulder issue, took a scoreless effort into the fifth inning in Savannah’s 6-3 loss to Rome on Saturday. Blake Forsythe had three hits and three RBIs in his Double-A debut with Binghamton. Collin McHugh pitched Las Vegas to a 3-0 record. The Mets’ four full-season affiliates are a combined 10-2 -- with both losses suffered by low-A Savannah. Read the full minor league recap here.
• From the bloggers … Shannon from MetsPolice.com went to Saturday's game and wasn't happy with a Citi Field supervisor, nor the scoreboard operator. … Faith and Fear in Flushing basks in the glow of Buck's golden hour.
BIRTHDAYS: Vinny Rottino, whom the Mets lost off waivers last June while clearing a roster spot for left-handed reliever Justin Hampson, turns 33. After finishing last season with the Cleveland Indians, Rottino signed with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan in December. ... Mets bullpen coach Ricky Bones turns 44.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do the Mets have enough of a safety net in starting pitching minus Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum as they await Zack Wheeler?
Fantasy baseball: where you are mad that your team scored a run in the 8th because it means no save opportunity for Parnell. #Mets— Whit Blanton (@Whitbone) April 6, 2013
USA TODAY Sports
The Mets face (l to r) right-handers Alex Sanabia, Ricky Nolasco and Jose Fernandez this weekend.
Friday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-0, -.--) vs. RHP Alex Sanabia (0-0, -.--), 7:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-5, 2.70) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (0-1, 3.00), 1:10 p.m. ET
Sunday: LHP Aaron Laffey (0-0, -.--) vs. RHP Jose Fernandez (0-0, -.--), 1:10 p.m. ET
Marlins short hops
• Jose Fernandez, the 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of high school in Tampa, will make his major league debut Sunday. The 20-year-old right-hander went a combined 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA in 25 Class A starts last season between Greensboro and Jupiter.
The Marlins opted to use the rookie with Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez on the disabled list, both with shoulder inflammation.
Fernandez arrived in the U.S. from Cuba by boat as a refugee in 2008. In preparation for Sunday’s start, Fernandez threw a simulated game Tuesday in D.C., with first-year manager Mike Redmond and hitting coach Tino Martinez acting as batters. Both are not that far removed from major league careers.
John Maine made the Marlins' Opening Day roster. He last pitched in the majors in 2010 with the Mets.
• Fellow ex-Met Jon Rauch signed a one-year, $1 million free-agent contract with the Marlins on Feb. 5.
• Miami, which completed its latest fire sale during the offseason, mustered only one run while getting swept in a season-opening three-game series at Nationals Park. The Marlins became the first team to total no more than one run in the team's first three games since the 1988 Orioles (also one run), according to ESPN Stats & Information. The '88 Orioles opened that season 0-21.
• Third baseman Placido Polanco batted cleanup the first two games of the season. He had never started a game in that slot previously in his 16-year career.
• First baseman Casey Kotchman will land on the disabled list Friday, two days after straining his left hamstring. He becomes the third first baseman the Marlins have lost this season. Logan Morrison (knee surgery) is on the 60-day DL, while Joe Mahoney is on the 15-day DL with an intercostal strain. Among the flurry of moves last season, the Marlins traded first baseman Gaby Sanchez to the Pittsburgh Pirates last July 31.
Greg Dobbs should handle the bulk of the first-base duty for now, while Austin Kearns and rookie Chris Valaika may see action at the position, too.
• Giancarlo Stanton, the lone remaining threat in Miami’s lineup, led the NL in slugging percentage (.608) and finished second to Ryan Braun in homers last season, with 37. Stanton now has 93 career homers, matching Frank Robinson for fifth-most in MLB history before turning 23. The only players with more: Mel Ott (115), Eddie Mathews (112), Tony Conigliaro (104) and Alex Rodriguez (95).
• Catcher Miguel Olivo signed with Miami on March 29 after playing in 21 games for the Cincinnati Reds during spring training. Jeff Mathis suffered a broken right clavicle early in spring training.
• In the Nov. 19 trade that sent Jose Reyes, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to Toronto, the Marlins received minor leaguers Anthony DeScalfani, Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino as well as Alvarez, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria and Mathis. Reyes bristled during spring training at Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, after Loria denied advising Reyes days before the trade to buy a house in Miami.
• Alex Sanabia, 24, will make his first major league appearance since Sept. 24, 2011 in the series opener. He went 6-7 with a 4.06 ERA in 17 starts last season at Triple-A New Orleans, where he also had three DL stints.
David Wright had a game-winning hit in the 2009 WBC, against Puerto Rico.
He departs Saturday for Phoenix to join Team USA.
The American squad will open first-round play against Mexico next Friday at Chase Field. Team USA them plays Italy and Canada the following two days. (See schedule here.)
Wright will have appeared in four Grapefruit League games to tune up. He is 3-for-9 with one strikeout so far.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling walking into the clubhouse the first time and seeing your last name on one of those USA jerseys,’’ Wright told columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post, while adding that he is excited to play for Joe Torre, who will manage the U.S. squad.
Jonathon Niese starts opposite Verlander in today’s SNY-televised game. Also due to pitch: Bobby Parnell, Jeurys Familia and Scott Atchison.
Single-game tickets for the regular season go on sale at 10 a.m. at Mets.com or by calling 718-507-TIXX.
Friday’s news reports:
• Zack Wheeler, who suffered a mild strain of his right oblique on Wednesday in a batting cage, was not injured too badly, Terry Collins said. The hope is to have Wheeler on a mound in about four days and in a game again in about a week. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Daily News.
• Could Jordany Valdespin unseat Kirk Nieuwenhuis as one of the Mets’ three lefty-hitting outfielders and instead join Lucas Duda and Mike Baxter on the Opening Day roster? Well, with Daniel Murphy poised to return in about a week from an intercostal strain on his right side, Collins told ESPNNewYork.com he is prepared to start using Valdespin in the outfield rather than continue to use him at second base.
Valdespin is off to a .455 start through four games, while Nieuwenhuis is 1-for-13 (.077) with six Ks. Stay tuned.
• Rafael Montero, who was named the organization’s pitcher of the year last season, made his Grapefruit League debut Thursday night against a formidable Washington Nationals lineup. Montero allowed one run on three doubles in in two innings while showing poise.
The game was called after 10 innings with the score tied at 4. The Mets are winless in their past five Grapefruit League games (0-3-2).
Montero, who is from the Dominican Republic, did not sign with the Mets until he was 20, in 2011, the first season of the Mets’ new regime.
“Many guys sign at 16, but plenty of others sign at 17 and 18,” Paul DePodesta said. “Twenty is a bit more out of the ordinary. I think Valdespin was 19 or 20 also. In any event, it's certainly unusual to be signed out of the Dominican Republic and be in major league camp just 25 months later. Rafael has been through six levels already in two seasons.”
Read more on Montero in the Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Pedro Feliciano’s agent announced the left-hander has been diagnosed with a genetic heart disorder known as left ventricular noncompaction. A public-relations agency affiliated with agent Melvin Roman added that athletes can pitch through the issue without risk, so Feliciano will resume his career while wearing a heart monitor for a couple of weeks to satisfy the team. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday and Daily News.
Terry Collins still eyes Opening Day for Johan Santana.
• Tim Byrdak is scheduled to join camp today after mostly throwing on flat ground back at home the past few weeks. Byrdak, who underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder in August, likely would not be able to contribute until the season’s second half.
• Foreigner (June 14), Nas (July 19), O.A.R. (Aug. 2) and Third Eye Blind (Aug. 23) will perform postgame concerts at Citi Field during the 2013 season. A game ticket includes admission to the abbreviated postgame concert. Nas, who hails from Queens, is a devout Mets fan.
• Marlon Byrd, the leading candidate to play right field, is in camp on a minor league contract. He tells Mike Puma in the Post that this likely is his “last chance” at reviving his career. “If I don’t make this team, I don’t see many other chances in baseball,” Byrd said.
• Jose Reyes remains displeased with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. Read more from Ken Davidoff in the Post, where Reyes is quoted as saying: “He traded me. That’s fine with me. Just be real with me. Be honest. Don’t tell me to buy a house and get a nice place for my family and stuff when you [know] you’re going to trade me. Why [did] you do that?”
• Marc Carig in Newsday notes Collins wants the Mets to be better baserunners. Writes Carig:
Consider one of the most famous moments in postseason history. Collins was a coach with the Pirates in 1992 when the plodding Sid Bream hustled home from second on a single, barely beating Pittsburgh leftfielder Barry Bonds ' throw and scoring the winning run in NLCS Game 7 to send the Braves to the World Series.
But more often, baserunning represents a less-dramatic advantage. According to statistics compiled by the site FanGraphs, through their decision-making on the bases, the Angels ran their way to an additional 18.3 runs last season. It was the best total in baseball. By contrast, the Nationals cost themselves 17.6 runs on the bases, the worst in the game. Statistically speaking, in the course of the season, the difference translated to about two games in the win-loss column.
The Mets ranked 19th, costing themselves 3.1 runs on the bases, a relatively insignificant number.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal delves into the Mets’ decision to instruct Travis d’Arnaud not to block the plate.
• Mike Kerwick in the Record catches up with reliever Brandon Lyon.
• Columnist David Lennon in Newsday asserts it is unfair to have Collins managing in the final year of a contract and advocates for an extension.
• Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record writes the “Mets still have money problems, so don't expect a revival anytime soon.”
• Read more on Wright’s impending departure to Team USA in the Times.
• Anthony DiComo at MLB.com notes the Mets’ are prioritizing on-base percentage over steals in their leadoff hitter.
• From the bloggers … The Eddie Kranepool Society reviews Sandy Alderson’s conference call with bloggers. … At Mets Police, Shannon suggests the Mets stage a ceremony in which Yogi Berra helps retire Gary Carter's No. 8. … Rising Apple asks: to block or not block the plate?
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets catcher Ramon Castro turns 37. Castro is in camp with the Dodgers.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you support the World Baseball Classic … or wish it did not exist?
BREAKING NEWS: Pope Benedict to join Bobby Valentine at Sacred Heart College as Asst. Athletic Director.— Mike Barnicle (@mikebarnicle) February 28, 2013
Please use the comments section to weigh in
FIRST PITCH: Zack Wheeler, who tossed two scoreless innings against the Washington Nationals in his Grapefruit League debut, gets the start against the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:10 p.m. today at Tradition Field.
The Mets thought enough of Wheeler’s showing against the Nats that they favorably compared his pitching data during the weekend performance to Stephen Strasburg’s metrics in the same game.
Today, Wheeler will oppose right-hander Lance Lynn. Also scheduled to pitch for the Mets: Darin Gorski, Bobby Parnell, Greg Burke and Carlos Torres.
“The guy is pretty quiet,” Jonathon Niese says about Wheeler. “He’s kind of got that quiet confidence about him, which is really good. Obviously his stuff is really good.
“There’s a lot of talent. Obviously, [Matt] Harvey and Wheeler, they’re two guys in the upper 90s. As a starter, that’s pretty impressive.”
On Thursday night in Viera, the Mets will see Strasburg for a second this spring training, opposite Rafael Montero.
Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers visit Port St. Lucie on Friday. Niese gets that start for the Mets.
Harvey pitches Saturday.
Wednesday’s news reports:
Jenrry Mejia surrendered a grand slam in a five-run first inning Tuesday.
• Terry Collins said Ruben Tejada, who was scratched from Monday’s game, has seen improvement with his injured right quadriceps and will start today’s game. Read more in the Post.
• David Wright is due to start at third base Wednesday, in his second-to-last game before departing for the World Baseball Classic. Collins has started to poll veterans about making Wright the captain before Opening Day.
• LaTroy Hawkins has yet to appear in a spring-training game, but pitching coach Dan Warthen says the 40-year-old reliever is just taking his time with this year’s spring training especially long because of the World Baseball Classic.
• Right-handed pitching prospect Erik Goeddel was struck in the face with a baseball and may be facing surgery.
• Marc Carig in Newsday profiles Wilmer Flores, who may have 20-homer potential in the majors, but still must find a position. Flores, originally a shortstop, now has settled into playing second and third base. The Mets say they will not dabble with Flores -- who is slow-footed, at least with his first step -- in the outfield. Read more in the Times.
• Kevin Kernan in the Post profiles Burke, including discussing the influence of Rick Peterson on the right-hander’s recently adopted submarine-style delivery.
Mike Pelfrey made his Grapefruit League debut with the Twins on Tuesday.
When manager Ron Gardenhire walked to the mound to remove him after 10 hitters -- five of whom got hits -- the 6-foot-7 pitcher hesitated. "When I was with the Mets, we always waited for the reliever, and handed him the ball," Pelfrey said and laughed. "I said, 'Do you want the ball?' He said, 'You're bigger than me, you let me know.' "
• Cory Mazzoni, a former second-round pick from NC State, has now tossed five scoreless Grapefruit League innings. Read more at MLB.com.
• Niese aims to represent the Mets at this year’s All-Star Game at Citi Field, writes Marty Noble at MLB.com.
• Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria’s PR campaign to spin the team’s offseason fire sale is not being met with rave reviews. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News chats with Travis d’Arnaud. Collins tells Harper the Mets will not let d’Arnaud block the plate for now to avoid injury risk, although that could change once he reaches the majors. “He’s the future,” Collins said. “So we’re going to be smart about this. When he gets to the big leagues, things may change, but right now let’s let him get to the big leagues. The thing is, catchers with his offensive potential, they’re hard to find.”
• The Mets are trying to get former Pennsylvania high school wrestler Josh Edgin to pitch to contact rather than try to strike everyone out, writes Kristie Ackert in the Daily News.
• From the bloggers … At Mets Police, Shannon is pleased with the way the Mets are dressing this spring. … Rising Apple considers whether the Mets can compete with a $90 million payroll in 2014. … Faith and Fear in Flushing realizes the Mets have been training in Port St. Lucie as many springs and they did in St. Petersburg, and notices how the pace has changed.
BIRTHDAYS: Longtime Atlanta Braves right-hander Pete Smith, who started 21 games for the Mets in 1994 after being acquired for Dave Gallagher, turns 47.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
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Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria defending the team's fire sale.
“I have a sense of [the public anger]. I’m sorry we built this amazing ballpark and fans are feeling the way they do. But we did this for a reason. We weren’t going anywhere. ... We had to do something swiftly, quickly and bold.”
The Mets face (l to r) Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Ricky Nolasco during a midweek series that marks Jose Reyes' return to Flushing with the Marlins.
Tuesday: LHP Johan Santana (0-2, 3.97) vs. RHP Josh Johnson (0-2, 5.94), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP R.A. Dickey (2-1, 5.71) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (1-2, 2.66), 7:10 p.m. ET
Thursday: LHP Jon Niese (2-0, 2.89) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (2-0, 3.93), 1:10 p.m. ET
Marlins short hops
• Jose Reyes is off to a slow start in his first season with the Marlins, with a .230 average, .294 on-base percentage and five errors through 15 games, albeit with a handful of highlight-reel defensive plays as well. After the Mets failed to make an offer, or even send a box of chocolates, Reyes signed a six-year, $106 million deal with Miami.
• Manager Ozzie Guillen served a five-game suspension after making comments praising Fidel Castro, which angered those in the Cuban-American community, particularly among the Marlins’ fan base. Other than at the off-day press conference held by Guillen in Miami to apologize, which drew about 50 protestors, there have been no visible demonstrations outside Marlins Park.
Ozzie Guillen served a five-game suspension for praising Fidel Castro.
• Miami’s new stadium, known as Marlins Park, is a pitcher-friendly ballpark with a seating capacity of 37,442. The dimensions (from left to right): 344, 386, 418, 392, 335. Despite the imposing dimensions, the Marlins have out-homered opponents 5-1 at the stadium so far, with Hanley Ramirez producing three of the long balls. Owner Jeffrey Loria also rebranded the Marlins, dropping “Florida” for “Miami” and changing the team logo to more of a South Beach feel.
• Ramirez (.263, 4 HR, 12 RBIs) has moved to third base to accommodate Reyes after logging his first 829 career major league games in the field at shortstop. He has committed only one error and generally looked solid. Slowed by a left shoulder injury last season, Ramirez hit only .243 with 10 homers in 92 games. Ramirez currently is tied with Miguel Cabrera for third on the Marlins’ all-time home run list with 138. He trails Dan Uggla (154) and Mike Lowell (143).
• Josh Johnson’s 2011 season ended after a five-inning start on May 16 against the Mets at Citi Field because of right shoulder inflammation. He actually was removed from that outing after getting hit in the right forearm with a comebacker off the bat of Carlos Beltran. Johnson threw live batting practice at the end of September, but ran out of time to return during that season. He did not undergo surgery. This season, Johnson rebounded from allowing six runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Phillies on April 11 by limiting the Cubs to two runs on seven hits in seven innings in his most recent start.
• Second baseman Omar Infante (left groin tightness) expects to return to the lineup for Tuesday’s series opener at Citi Field. Infante has not played since last Tuesday, except for a pinch-hit appearance Saturday in D.C. Donnie Murphy (three games) and Emilio Bonifacio (one game) started at second base in Infante’s absence. Bonifacio otherwise has exclusively served as the Marlins’ starting center fielder. He had not taken grounders at second base this season, but Guillen wanted a lefty-dominated lineup Saturday against Washington phenom Stephen Strasburg. Infante was on fire before being sidelined. He is hitting .325 with four homers in 40 at-bats. The pinch-hit out against the Nats snapped Infante’s eight-game hitting streak.
• The Reyes-Bonifacio combo gives Miami two switch-hitters atop the order as well as a pair of speedsters. The Marlins’ 18 steals (in 21 attempts) leads the majors. Bonifacio already has nine steals, the most in the first 15 games of a season by a Marlin in franchise history. Quilvio Veras formerly held the record with eight.
• Marlins newcomer Mark Buehrle texted former White Sox teammate Philip Humber congratulations on becoming one of the 21 major league pitchers to throw a perfect game in the sport’s history. Buehrle tossed his perfecto against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 23, 2009. Despite a 13-year major league career, Buehrle has never faced the Mets. That is largely because the Mets and Buehrle’s former club, the Chicago White Sox, have not met in interleague play since 2002 -- the longest stretch the Mets have gone in not seeing an American League opponent. Buehrle signed a four-year, $58 million deal with the Marlins on Dec. 8. He is the only major league pitcher to log 200 innings each of the past 11 seasons. His 10-plus wins per year for the past 11 seasons is tied with CC Sabathia for the longest active streak in the majors.
• Logan Morrison played only five spring-training games because of right-knee soreness. Giancarlo (formerly Mike) Stanton appeared in only eight spring-training games because of left-knee inflammation. Neither is 100 percent, so they are spotted days off in the outfield. Stanton’s full name is Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton. Teachers in middle school in Los Angeles butchered his first name so frequently, he requested to be called Mike. But he has now decided to revert to his actual name. Morrison is one of the most active (and tawdry) players on Twitter at @LoMoMarlins.
• The Marlins are featured in the second-annual Showtime series “The Franchise.” The first episode debuted Saturday night. The first episode included Guillen being informed of his suspension. The San Francisco Giants were featured last season.
• Ricky Nolasco is two wins shy of matching Dontrelle Willis’ franchise record for wins as a Marlin at 68.
Santana vs. Marlins (career: 6-1, 1.47 ERA)
Gaby Sanchez .800, 5 PA
Chris Coghlan .333, 1 RBI, 6 PA
Jose Reyes .250, 4 PA
John Buck .235, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 18 PA
Omar Infante .205, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 9 K, 42 PA
Hanley Ramirez .143, 2 BB, 7 K, 23 PA
Austin Kearns .133, 3 K, 15 PA
Emilio Bonifacio .083, 4 K, 12 PA
Donnie Murphy .000, 2 K, 3 PA
Dickey vs. Marlins (career: 5-2, 3.91 ERA)
Omar Infante .500, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 24 PA
Hanley Ramirez .400, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 16 PA
Gaby Sanchez .333, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, 19 PA
Austin Kearns .333, 1 K, 3 PA
John Buck .300, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 11 PA
Chris Coghlan .286, 2 BB, 3 K, 9 PA
Emilio Bonifacio .200, 1 BB, 3 K, 11 PA
Greg Dobbs .200, 3 K, 10 PA
Logan Morrison .182, 2 BB, 4 K, 13 PA
Brett Hayes .167, 1 K, 6 PA
Donnie Murphy .143, 3 K, 7 PA
Giancarlo Stanton .125, 3 K, 8 PA
Jose Reyes .000, 2 K, 6 PA
Niese vs. Marlins (career: 1-4, 5.67 ERA)
Emilio Bonifacio .500, 3 PA
Logan Morrison .429, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 10 PA
Brett Hayes .333, 1 RBI, 3 PA
Hanley Ramirez .273, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 13 PA
Gaby Sanchez .214, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, 17 PA
Chris Coghlan .200, 1 K, 11 PA
Omar Infante .167, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 19 PA
Giancarlo Stanton .000, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 6 PA
Donnie Murphy .000, 3 PA
Austin Kearns .000, 3 PA
John Buck .000, 1 K, 3 PA
Johnson vs. Mets (career: 8-1, 2.68 ERA)
Justin Turner .500, 1 RBI, 2 PA
Jason Bay .417, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 K, 12 PA
Daniel Murphy .294, 2 BB, 2 K, 19 PA
David Wright .207, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 8 K, 30 PA
Josh Thole .200, 2 K, 5 PA
Ike Davis .143, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 9 PA
Scott Hairston .000, 1 BB, 2 K, 6 PA
Ruben Tejada .000, 1 BB, 3 PA
Ronny Cedeno .000, 1 K, 2 PA
Lucas Duda .000, 1 PA
Buehrle vs. Mets (career: never faced)
Ronny Cedeno .444, 1 RBI, 1 K, 9 PA
Jason Bay .235, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K, 19 PA
Nolasco vs. Mets (career: 5-7, 5.27 ERA)
David Wright .389, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 3 BB, 15 K, 57 PA
Daniel Murphy .353, 1 RBI, 3 K, 18 PA
Ruben Tejada .333, 1 K, 6 PA
Scott Hairston .333, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 6 PA
Jason Bay .273, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 24 PA
Josh Thole .250, 1 K, 8 PA
Ike Davis .182, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 12 PA
Lucas Duda .000, 1 K, 6 PA
Ronny Cedeno .000, 1 K, 6 PA
Mike Nickeas .000, 1 K, 3 PA
Last series results
Mets won, 2-1, at Dolphin Stadium, Sept. 5-7, 2011 (AP game recaps)
Marlins 9, Mets 3: Chris Capuano failed to reach the fifth inning for the first time in 27 starts this season, lasting only four innings and taking the loss. Capuano (10-12) allowed six runs and eight hits, walked one and struck out three. Florida took a 2-0 lead in the first. Emilio Bonifacio opened with a double, took third on Omar Infante's sacrifice and scored on Capuano's wild pitch. Gaby Sanchez doubled with two outs and scored on Logan Morrison's single to center. Jose Lopez homered with two outs in the third to make it 3-0. Angel Pagan's RBI groundout in the fourth cut Florida's lead to 3-1. The Marlins responded with Bryan Petersen's RBI single and Bonifacio's two-run single in the bottom of the inning. Mike Cameron had an RBI double in the fifth and Sanchez had a two-run single in the sixth to stretch the lead to 9-1. Javier Vazquez pitched seven solid innings for the win. Jason Bay hit his 11th homer, a two-run shot off reliever Chris Hatcher, in the ninth.
Mets 7, Marlins 4 (12 innings): Nick Evans drove in three runs, including a go-ahead single in the 12th inning, to lead New York over Florida. Jose Reyes, Justin Turner, Angel Pagan and Evans each had three hits for New York, which lost a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. Marlins reliever Jose Ceda (0-1) gave up three straight hits to begin the 12th, including Evans’ soft liner to center that scored Pagan. Later in the inning, Reyes hit an RBI single and Lucas Duda drew a bases-loaded walk to give the Mets a 7-4 lead. Ryota Igarashi (4-1) got the win in a game that lasted 4 hours, 29 minutes, including a 1:14 rain delay.
Mets 1, Marlins 0: R.A. Dickey made an early run stand up, blanking Florida for seven innings. Dickey is 3-0 against the Marlins this season. The knuckleballer allowed only one run -- it was unearned -- in 20 innings over that span. Jose Reyes led off the game with a single and scored on a one-out double down the left-field line by Lucas Duda for the only run. Dickey (8-11) and relievers Josh Stinson and Manny Acosta combined on a five-hitter. The Mets played their final game at the Marlins’ stadium before Florida moves into a new home next season. The Mets finished 75-74 at the park the Marlins had shared with the Dolphins since 1993. Dickey gave up four hits and three walks. He struck out three. Brad Hand (1-6) allowed one run, three hits and four walks in six innings. In the eighth, the Marlins put Emilio Bonifacio on third base, but Stinson struck out Gaby Sanchez swinging to end the inning. Acosta pitched the ninth and recorded his first save since Aug. 11, 2010, at Houston.