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Morning Briefing: Zack OK with model too

3/11/2014

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: Jonathon Niese, who had been dispatched to New York early in camp for an MRI of his left shoulder, makes his 2014 Grapefruit League debut Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. against the St. Louis Cardinals (WOR 710 AM).

Niese tossed three innings in a controlled intrasquad game Thursday.

He should get three additional starts beyond Tuesday before drawing the Opening Day assignment on March 31 against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.

Niese is due to face Cards right-hander Adam Wainwright at Roger Dean Stadium.

See the Mets’ full travel list here.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Zack Wheeler tells columnist John Harper in the Daily News that his drive is similar to Matt Harvey’s, although not their demeanors.

Adam Rubin

Zack Wheeler compared and contrasted himself to Matt Harvey. "We're different," Wheeler said.

“We’re different," Wheeler told Harper. "Everybody expects all of us to love everything about being a star. I’m just laid-back. But I love playing baseball and the attention that comes with it -- I guess I just don’t show I love the attention. Just because I’m laid-back, people have a perception that I don’t care or whatever. Obviously I do. I’m ready to take the next step. I’m ready to take on [the Harvey role] and everything that comes with it."

Lightheartedly asked if the Harvey role also included dating models, Wheeler added:

“Whatever comes, we’ll see. I don’t go out that much. Last year I didn’t even go out one time in New York because I was so concentrated on what I was doing, just being called up at the time. But we’ll see. If a hot model comes along, so be it. Why not, right? …

"I’m not really 'country,'" Wheeler added about his Georgia upbringing. "Everybody thinks that. My family moved to a country-type area when I was in eighth grade, and my friends there all had lifter trucks, so I wanted one and I got one with my bonus money. But I love New York: bright lights, tall buildings, gorgeous girls. It’s great. People have perceptions about me because I don’t say that much, but they really don’t know me."

Ike Davis has been placed in a walking boot because of a continued issue with a strained right calf. Of course, getting fitted for a walking boot back in 2011 after a collision with David Wright in Colorado contributed to ending Davis’ season, because it constricted his circulation. But this one is more loose-fitting.

Lucas Duda, meanwhile, is expected to reenter Grapefruit League action Wednesday or Thursday. Duda, who has been troubled by left hamstring tightness, hit in a cage without issue Monday.

Read more in the Times, Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and Journal.

Adam Rubin

Josh Edgin was among the first players cut from big-league camp.

• The Mets dispatched 15 players to minor-league camp Monday, in the first round of cuts. Josh Edgin, whose velocity has sagged, headlined the list.

Also sent out: left-handers Steven Matz, Jack Leathersich and Adam Kolarek, right-handers Erik Goeddel, Logan Verrett, John Church and Chasen Bradford, catcher Kevin Plawecki, infielders Wilfredo Tovar and Danny Muno, infielder/outfielder Dustin Lawley and outfielders Brandon Nimmo, Cesar Puello and Cory Vaughn.

Leathersich had surrendered a monster homer to Giancarlo Stanton during Monday’s Grapefruit League game.

Forty-nine players remain in camp, including the rehabbing Harvey and Jeremy Hefner.

Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.

• With Scott Rice now the lone lefty reliever in camp, Terry Collins plans to give John Lannan a look in that bullpen role. Still, Lannan is scheduled to start Wednesday’s Grapefruit League game and remains in the fifth-starter’s competition with Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jenrry Mejia and, officially, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom.

Wilmer Flores, who last started at shortstop in 2011 with Class A St. Lucie, will be in the starting lineup at that position Tuesday in Jupiter. Flores already has finished two Grapefruit League games at shortstop after starting elsewhere.

Bartolo Colon took a scoreless effort into the fourth inning before surrendering three runs and the Mets ultimately lost to the Miami Marlins, 11-1, Monday at Tradition Field. Mets pitchers allowed 19 hits and Ruben Tejada committed an error.

In a morning “B” game, Dillon Gee tossed four scoreless innings, Mejia added two perfect frames, and Tovar and Vaughn contributed early two-run doubles against Kevin Slowey in an 8-0 win against Miami.

On Colon, columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post quotes J.P. Ricciardi saying: “When I was scouting with Oakland, I saw him one-hit the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, and he did it on a fastball and a changeup. He threw one slider in the ninth inning to [Derek] Jeter. I will never forget that. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever saw. He’d go in, go out, great changeup. That’s what I love about the guy. He’s a strike machine.’’

Writes Tyler Kepner in the Times:

Colon used his fastball for 85.5 percent of his pitches last season with Oakland, according to Fangraphs. Cleveland’s Justin Masterson was second, at 73.3 percent.

This strategy would seem to have made more sense for Colon when he was young, and could throw about 100 miles per hour. But Colon turns 41 in May, and his fastball averaged 89.9 miles per hour last season. Everyone else in the top 10 in fastball percentage threw harder.

With his style of pitching, Colon is comparable to another 40-something right-hander who just left the New York stage.

“It’s like Mariano was,” said Mets outfielder Chris Young, Colon’s teammate on the A’s last season. “You know what’s coming, but it’s all about where you’re starting it and what you’re trying to accomplish with each pitch. He thinks about that when he’s on the mound. He’s accomplishing different things, moving in and out. Even though it is just the fastball most of the time, he still keeps guys off-balance somehow, and he breaks a lot of bats.”

Read more on Colon’s outing in the Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News and MLB.com.

Read more on Gee and the “B” game in the Star-Ledger and MLB.com.

• Marc Carig in Newsday discusses the Mets’ sound baserunning last season. Writes Carig:

According to FanGraphs, the Mets' baserunning was worth a big league-best 21.4 runs above average, or roughly two wins in the standings. Baseball Prospectus, which publishes its own version of baserunning value, also ranked the Mets No. 1 by a wide margin.

• Wally Backman interviewed in Port St. Lucie for the managerial position with Aguilas CibaeƱas of the Dominican winter league.

• Colon (Saturday) and Mejia (Sunday) are expected to start the Mets’ weekend split-squad games in Las Vegas against the Chicago Cubs. Also due on the trip: Wright, Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud, Bobby Parnell and Juan Lagares.

• Mr. Met has joined Twitter (@MrMet). Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• There will be a pregame tribute to the late Gary Carter at Olympic Stadium on March 28, with Carter’s widow Sandy on hand, when the Mets face the Toronto Blue Jays in the first of two exhibition games in Montreal, TSN’s Matthew Ross tweeted.

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attended a second straight Mets game Monday. He declined an interview request from ESPNNewYork.com about baseball and rooting for the Mets.

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post lists Davis vs. Duda as among “spring training’s juiciest position battles.”

• Read a Canadian perspective on the trade that sent d'Arnaud to the Mets in the Toronto Star.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report does not predict a happy resolution for Davis and the ballclub. … NY Mets Life examines why 2014 is a vital year of the Mets.

BIRTHDAYS: Hefner, who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, turns 28.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: Has Giancarlo Stanton’s homer on Monday landed yet?