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Morning Briefing: What's next?

3/21/2015

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. --

FIRST PITCH: New York Mets fans will get to watch a top pitching prospect start opposite Detroit Tigers ace David Price on Saturday in Lakeland, but not the one originally listed.

With Noah Syndergaard scratched and sent to minor league camp, Long Island native Steven Matz gets the start against the Tigers in the 1:05 p.m. ET game (WOR 710 AM).

Matz, 23, has a 1.50 ERA in six Grapefruit League innings. Like Syndergaard, he ultimately is ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas to open the season.

Also on Saturday, after two delays this week, Bobby Parnell is due to pitch in a minor league game. It will mark the former closer’s first time in a game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April 8.

Reliever Vic Black is due to resume throwing on flat ground now that he has finished anti-inflammatory medication prescribed to combat what is being labeled shoulder weakness.

SATURDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Zack Wheeler has selected team doctor David Altchek to perform his Tommy John surgery next week. Wheeler expects to rehab for 14 months, so he will not be ready for a major league game until roughly June 1, 2016. Wheeler suggested the ulnar collateral ligament tear in his right elbow was unrelated to pain he endured last season. He believes the 2014 discomfort was the result of a partially torn tendon breaking away from a calcium deposit. Read more in the Journal, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Daniel Murphy has a pulled right hamstring and will be out for a minimum of a week. With Opening Day looming on April 6 at Washington, and mindful that hamstring injuries tend to linger, general manager Sandy Alderson left open the possibility Murphy would open the season on the disabled list. If that’s the case, Matt Reynolds and Danny Muno would be the primary contenders to replace Murphy at second base, the GM said. Wilmer Flores will stay put at shortstop. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Journal, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • The Mets demoted Syndergaard to minor league camp Friday. Syndergaard originally had been scheduled to start Saturday’s Grapefruit League game in Lakeland, but he was struck in the left ankle while playing catch Thursday and required an X-ray. That test came out OK, but the Mets decided to scratch Syndergaard and demote him in part because of an MLB rule. Anyone on the 40-man roster who remained in major league camp as of Saturday could be entitled to the major league DL and service time if he opened the regular season with an injury. Read more in the Post, Daily News and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Catching prospect Kevin Plawecki as well as right-handers Cory Mazzoni and Jon Velasquez also were sent to minor league camp Friday.

  • The Mets have lined up Bartolo Colon to start on Opening Day in D.C., multiple sources told ESPN.com. Colon is poised to become the oldest pitcher in franchise history to receive that honor. He would be 41 years, 317 days old. That would top 2007 Opening Day starter Tom Glavine (41 years, 7 days). No word yet on the first Matt Harvey Day.

  • Left fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis threw out pinch-runner C.J. McElroy at the plate on a potential sacrifice fly for a game-ending double play and the Mets beat the Cardinals 5-4, Friday at Tradition Field. Michael Cuddyer had a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth. Curtis Granderson went 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Colon allowed a two-run homer but no other damage in 4 2/3 innings. Read more in the Times and at MLB.com.

  • Tyler Kepner in the Times suggests the Mets can overcome the loss of Wheeler because of their starting-pitching depth, but their hitting and fielding may be fatal flaws. Writes Kepner:

    Their success depends on many factors, and they are lucky that their biggest hit came in their sturdiest area. The loss of Wheeler should not be fatal. The soft spots on the rest of the roster might be.

  • Ryan Hatch at NJ.com has a Q&A with Cuddyer.

  • From the bloggers …. Faith and Fear considers reining in its modest enthusiasm for 2015. … Mets Report suggests Wheeler gambled and lost.

BIRTHDAYS: Brooklyn-born Shawon Dunston turns 52.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: Who would you pick to start on Opening Day at second base if Murphy landed on the DL?