New York Mets: Kevin Burkhardt

Morning Briefing: Halfway done

June, 29, 2014
Jun 29
5:32
AM ET
PITTSBURGH

FIRST PITCH: Terry Collins did not sugarcoat where the Mets stand precisely halfway through their schedule.

After the Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday to improve to 37-44 at the midpoint, the club is on pace for the same 74-win total as the previous two seasons. (Not quite 90.)

The Mets are six games behind the co-division-leading Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves (43-38 apiece), although the Philadelphia Phillies (36-45) now occupy the division basement.

“We’re not going to make any excuses,” Collins said. “We’re not happy about it.”


Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesDillon Gee makes a rehab start Sunday with Brooklyn.


The manager continued: “We’re hanging in there. As I told the guys the other day, ‘Listen, we’ve just got to push through the All-Star break, go into the break on a positive note. … We have like 15 games before the break. Let’s go 10-5. Let’s not get crazy. Hopefully you get really hot, but let’s just go 10-5, go into the break close and then, coming out of the break, everybody will be rested. We’ll be healthy, Dillon [Gee] will be back and now let’s take off after that.’”

Gee is due to make a rehab start Sunday for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen estimated Gee will throw 55 in-game pitches. Gee, on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle on his right side, likely will need one additional minor-league start before presumably displacing Daisuke Matsuzaka in the rotation.

Meanwhile, the Mets send Bartolo Colon to the mound Sunday at PNC Park looking to split the four-game series. Colon (8-5, 3.67) opposes right-hander Edinson Volquez (5-6, 4.35).

The 41-year-old Colon is 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA in his last seven starts.

Sunday’s news reports:


Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsDavid Wright received a favorable report on his left shoulder Saturday in New York.


David Wright received favorable news during an examination with team doctor Struan Coleman at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan on Saturday. The captain was diagnosed with a bruised left rotator cuff and may avoid the disabled list. Wright will remain in New York and be reevaluated Monday by team doctors.

Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.

Jonathon Niese lost his control in the fourth inning and issued consecutive bases-loaded walks, but the southpaw overall limited Pittsburgh to three runs in six innings. And after Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia combined to retire all nine batters they faced, the Mets had completed a 5-3 win against the Pirates on Saturday to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Mets wore Negro Leagues-era uniforms from the Brooklyn Royal Giants during the victory.

Read game recaps in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times and at MLB.com.

• Backup catcher Anthony Recker required a postgame X-ray of his right hand, but minimized the issue.

• Long Island native Steven Matz tossed six scoreless innings to earn his first Double-A win and Dilson Herrera homered and had five RBIs as Binghamton held off Altoona, 8-7. Eudy Pina slugged a disputed walk-off homer as St. Lucie beat Bradenton, 4-3. Jorge Rivero delivered a walk-off RBI as Savannah beat Rome, 4-3. Eighth-round pick Dash Winningham produced his first professional homer as the Gulf Coast League Mets won, 7-2. Read the full minor-league recap here.

Scott Rice has an elbow injury at Triple-A Las Vegas.

• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News suggests the Mets and Yankees are in the same boat as the July 31 trade deadline nears -- rightfully sellers with an eye toward 2015, but unlikely to strip down this year’s team.

Columnist David Lennon in Newsday suggests Colon, Gee and Daniel Murphy could be on the block.

Chris Young has taken over the role of clubhouse D.J., which formerly was held by Justin Turner, Tim Rohan reports in the Times. Writes Rohan:

He actively seeks out requests. After wins, he plays what he called “Lil Jon-style music.” Before day games, he plays something lighter. He has noticed that everyone seems to enjoy hip-hop like Notorious B.I.G. and Outkast. Michael Jackson Sundays have been a big hit, too.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger asks Pirates GM Neal Huntington why the Mets and his club have been compatible in trades. The Mets have sent Marlon Byrd, John Buck and Ike Davis to Pittsburgh in a pair of deals since last August.

• Jim Baumbach in Newsday examines Colon’s success, even with a fastball that is averaging a career-low 89.1 mph. That’s down from 89.9 mph last season with the Oakland Athletics and down from 93.2 mph a dozen years ago.

“Everybody says he throws one pitch -- a fastball -- just like everyone always said Mariano Rivera threw one pitch with the cutter,” A’s first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss told Baumbach. “But because they can throw that one pitch to all four quadrants of the strike zone, they really become four pitches.”

The Daily News gives a plug to partner SNY’s debuting game show, which pitted the Mets TV and radio broadcast crews. It was hosted by Kevin Burkhardt.

BIRTHDAYS: 1960s-era Met Larry Stahl was born on this date in 1941.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Are you upbeat about the Mets’ late-inning relief?
WASHINGTON

FIRST PITCH: The Mets get to exhale Monday before beginning a stretch of 20 games in 20 days.

After an off-day, Justin Turner and the Los Angeles Dodgers visit Citi Field for three games. Rafael Montero (0-1, 4.50 ERA) makes his second major-league start in the series opener, opposite Josh Beckett (1-1, 2.38) on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m.

Read the Mets-Dodgers series preview here.

Monday’s news reports:

• After surrendering five runs (three earned) in six innings, Zack Wheeler acknowledged he needs to quickly turn things around and become less predictable with his pitch selection. Wheeler suffered the loss as the Mets dropped Sunday’s rubber game to the Washington Nationals, 6-3. Daniel Murphy extended his hitting streak to 10 games, but was thrown out at third base for the third time in May.

“We’ve been inconsistent,” David Wright told reporters afterward. “We go through a stretch where we play well, go through a stretch where we don’t play so well. Granted, it’s impossible to go through the whole season and play your best baseball every day, but there’s got to be some gray area where you squeak out a win when you’re not playing well, and it doesn’t seem we’re doing that.”

As for Wheeler, pitching coach Dan Warthen told Jared Diamond in the Journal: “It’s always a growing experience. As this year goes on, you’re going to see Zack Wheeler grow and grow and grow and grow. It’s not surprising what is happening is happening.”

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

• Terry Collins insisted Juan Lagares was never “benched” during a stretch in which the center fielder was out of the starting lineup four times in five games. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Don Burke in the Post profiles Kevin Burkhardt’s meteoric rise in the broadcasting industry, from high school broadcaster for a 1,000-watt station, to car salesman, to SNY’s Mets field reporter, to soon-to-be full time with Fox. Burkhardt will move from New Jersey to Los Angeles with his family this fall when his SNY contract expires.

• Collins suggested the one thing that could prevent Jenrry Mejia from becoming a successful closer is the recurrence of health issues that have plagued his career, Anthony DiComo writes at MLB.com. A wary Mejia has not yet pitched back-to-back days since returning to the bullpen.

Andrew Brown went 4-for-5 with two RBIs, but Las Vegas lost to El Paso, 10-9. Binghamton got a 14th-inning RBI single from Matt Reynolds and outlasted New Hampshire, 9-8. Read the full minor-league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Zack Thornton, acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ike Davis, turns 26. … Turk Wendell is 47. ... Former Mets first-round pick Alan Zinter is 46.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should Terry Collins start Juan Lagares on Monday?

Morning Briefing: Dive at five

May, 11, 2014
May 11
5:45
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: The Mets have lost a season-high five straight as well as eight of nine. They also now occupy sole possession of last place in the National League East.

Can Jonathon Niese stop the slide?

Niese (2-2, 1.82 ERA) opposes left-hander Cole Hamels (0-2, 7.02) in Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. series finale as the Mets look to avoid getting swept for a second straight series, as they did in Miami.

Hamels has a 7-14 record and 4.65 ERA in 27 career starts against the Mets. The Mets roughed him up for six runs in 4 2/3 innings two weeks ago in Philly. Hamels then allowed five runs on 10 hits and a walk against the Toronto Blue Jays, including surrendering homers to Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus. Overall, Hamels needs one win for 100 in his career.

Sunday’s news reports:

• Terry Collins would not commit Saturday to Jenrry Mejia making his next start, and appears to prefer 23-year-old Rafael Montero getting promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas for Wednesday’s outing opposite Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees at Citi Field. Of course, Sandy Alderson -- who picked Mejia over Daisuke Matsuzaka out of spring training, which was not Collins’ preference -- would need to sign off on bouncing Mejia from the rotation. Would the GM allow a prospect to debut in the Subway Series (and before the Super 2 deadline)? That seems out of character. In fact, a source tells columnist John Harper in the Daily News about Alderson's thinking on Montero: "not yet."


Brad Barr/USA TODAY SportsTerry Collins apparently advocates Rafael Montero as Wednesday's starter against the Yankees.


Mejia reiterated he is leery of bullpen work because he believes it contributed to his Tommy John surgery. “I worry about my arm,” Mejia told reporters. “I want to have a long career. … I don’t want to get hurt again.”

After tossing 5 1/3 no-hit innings Friday (with three walks) at Salt Lake, Montero is 4-1 with a 3.67 ERA and .203 opponent batting average in eight Pacific Coast League starts.

Read more in the Post, Newsday and at MLB.com.

Eric Campbell joined the Mets on Saturday and received No. 29, formerly donned by Ike Davis. He delivered a tiebreaking sac fly while pinch hitting with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth against left-hander Jake Diekman. Campbell became the first player in franchise history with a sac fly in his first big-league plate appearance. Ken Boswell in 1967 had a sac fly in his MLB debut, but it came later in the game.

Campbell had an eventful second plate appearance. With the score tied at 4, one out and two in scoring position in the eighth, Mike Adams threw the first pitch of an intentional walk. Chase Utley then came to the mound with Carlos Ruiz and the Phillies -- realizing Bobby Abreu had grabbed a helmet and planned to subsequently pinch hit -- reversed course and pitched to Campbell, who proceeded to strike out.


Courtesy of New York Mets
Eric Campbell made his major league debut Saturday with a sacrifice fly and strikeout off the bench.


Campbell initially was in Saturday’s starting lineup as the first baseman, but Lucas Duda said he had recovered enough from a suspected case of food poisoning and was a late addition to the lineup in Campbell’s place.

Josh Satin, who had been 3-for-28 this season in sporadic use, was optioned to Las Vegas. Campbell figures to start Sunday against Hamels.

Read more in Newsday.

• A half-inning after the Mets stranded the bases loaded, Ryan Howard delivered a two-out RBI single in the ninth against Kyle Farnsworth and Philadelphia beat the Mets, 5-4, Saturday night at Citi Field. At three games under .500, the Mets (16-19) have matched their 0-3 start for their season low-water mark.

After consecutive singles to open the bottom of the eighth, Chris Young -- hitless in 14 at-bats -- had a successful sac bunt. Campbell then struck out, Wilmer Flores walked and Abreu, pinch-hitting for Travis d’Arnaud, grounded back to Adams as the score remained tied at 4.

Scott Rice had inherited a one-run lead for the seventh from Dillon Gee and surrendered a game-tying RBI double to Utley.

Gee’s scoreless streak ended at 16 innings with two runs by the Phillies in the first. He allowed three runs in six innings and tossed only 81 pitches before departing with a 4-3 lead in what became a no-decision. Collins preferred having Rice face the Utley/Howard portion of the Phillies lineup in their fourth plate appearances.

David Wright snapped a career-high 136 at-bat homerless drought with a two-run homer in the first inning against Kyle Kendrick. Wright finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs, but popped out in foul territory against Jonathan Papelbon with Daniel Murphy at second base to end the game.

Mets pitchers remained hitless and are now 0-for-61 to open the season.

Read game recaps in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

• Noah Syndergaard surrendered five runs (four earned) in six innings for Las Vegas, including a first-inning three-run homer to Nick Franklin. He struck out 10. Matt Koch, Randy Fontanez and Beck Wheeler combined on the shutout as St. Lucie beat Palm Beach, 2-0. John Gant, Dawrin Frias and Robert Coles combined on the shutout as Savannah beat Charleston, 1-0. 2012 first-round pick For the Gnats, Gavin Cecchini returned to the lineup two days after departing with a knee injury. Savannah snapped Yankees prospect Caleb Smith’s scoreless streak at 23 1/3 innings. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Jon Hamm, who plays advertising executive Don Draper on “Mad Men,” is a St. Louis Cardinals fan in real life. Hamm was in New York on Friday promoting his role as a sports agent in the new Disney movie, “Million Dollar Arm.” Writes Anthony McCarron in the Daily News:


ESPNActor Jon Hamm is a big St. Louis Cardinals fan.


He’s from St. Louis and grew up loving the Cardinals and Ozzie Smith and is still close to Ted Simmons’ son, a childhood friend. The ‘82 World Series is his favorite baseball memory.

“Oh, I hated the Mets with a passion that kills and still do,” Hamm said last week while promoting his new movie, “Million Dollar Arm,” which opens Friday, May 16.

But, Hamm acknowledges, the Mets -- at least the late ’60s version -- are the “perfect team for Don Draper to root for. They’re brand new. They represent nothing but possibility.

“Don would never be a Yankee fan. That’s a frontrunner. He’s an underdog guy, if he’s anything.”

Speaking of Don Draper and the ’69 Mets, columnist Mike Vaccaro addresses that topic in the Post.

Read more in the Times and Newsday.

• Kevin Burkhardt (Class of 1997) will give William Patterson University’s commencement address Wednesday at the Izod Center, writes Phil Mushnick in the Post.

• The Yankees will honor Joe Torre, Goose Gossage, Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill with plaques in Monument Park this season. So what about the Mets honoring their past heroes? Writes David Lennon in Newsday:

The franchise has retired only three numbers in addition to Jackie Robinson's No. 42 -- Casey Stengel's 37, Gil Hodges' 14 and Tom Seaver's 41 -- but [Mike] Piazza seems to be next in line.

Piazza's No. 31 has not been issued by the Mets since he left after the 2005 season, and he was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame last year. But the Mets appear to be waiting on Piazza's campaign for Cooperstown, and he fell 74 votes shy of the 75 percent needed (429) for induction in his second year.

Carter's No. 8, Keith Hernandez's No. 17 and Willie Mays' No. 24 also have been mostly kept out of circulation, so they remain possibilities.

In the meantime, the Mets rely on a seven-person committee to decide on their own Hall of Fame, which has 27 inductees. Who will follow Piazza? David Wright? That would be a bit of a wait.

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post suggests the Mets' season appears snowballing out of control.

Omar Quintanilla cleared waivers and accepted a demotion to Vegas. Quintanilla, who was replaced by Wilmer Flores on Friday, had the right to decline the assignment and declare free agency.

• There have been 122 players to play for both the Mets and Yankees, writes Anthony Rieber in Newsday. There are five slated to participate in this week’s Subway Series: Abreu, Bartolo Colon, Farnsworth, Curtis Granderson and Carlos Beltran.

• The Chicago White Sox promoted former Mets closer Frank Francisco from Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday.

• The Los Angeles Angels released ex-Mets left-handed reliever Robert Carson from Triple-A Salt Lake, where he had a 10.34 ERA and had allowed 23 hits and 13 walks in 15 2/3 innings.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear encounters a Mets fan existential crisis.

BIRTHDAYS: Walt Terrell, who was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Howard Johnson on Dec. 7, 1984, turns 56.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Who should start Wednesday against the Yankees -- Jenrry Mejia, Rafael Montero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Carlos Torres, Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard?

Morning Briefing: Mets irked by paper?

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
5:30
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: The Mets will aim to move four games over .500 on Saturday night for the first time since July 14, 2012.

Jenrry Mejia will take a career-high 13 2/3-inning scoreless streak into the 7:10 p.m. start at Citi Field. Mejia (3-0, 1.99 ERA) opposes right-hander Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.15).

Saturday’s news reports:

Curtis Granderson’s walk-off RBI single completed a ninth-inning rally against Miami closer Steve Cishek as the Mets beat the Marlins, 4-3, Friday night. The Mets snapped two Marlins streaks that had been the longest active in the majors: Cishek had converted 33 straight save opportunities. Christian Yelich had a 17-game hitting streak end.

Yelich stumbled in left field and never made a throw to the plate attempting to catch Lucas Duda as the tying run in the ninth.

“It would have been a tough play,” Yelich told the Miami Herald. “I had to go a decent way for that ball. Then you’ve got to stop and then you’ve got to throw. And it’s a tough angle to throw because I’m right on the line. But it’s probably where I would have gone with the ball had I kept my feet.”

The Mets needed to rally because Gonzalez Germen allowed consecutive eighth-inning homers to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Garrett Jones with two outs. Zack Wheeler allowed one run in six innings, although his pattern of running into trouble in the fifth inning continued. Jeurys Familia, who had been unused for a week, earned his first major-league win with a scoreless top of the ninth.

Read game recaps in the Miami Herald, Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.


Slaven Vlasic/Getty ImagesMookie Wilson's memoir has created somewhat of a stir in Mets land.


• Paul DePodesta vehemently denied a report that he disparaged the ’86 Mets in his initial staff meeting after taking over the organization with Sandy Alderson. The report came after Mookie Wilson’s memoirs became public. Wilson critically wrote that the organization treats him like a “hood ornament” and does not have much use for the ’86 Mets.

Still, he told Jim Baumbach in Newsday: “It’s true that I was unhappy, but the word ‘was’ -- make sure that’s in there. It doesn’t bother me now. … You move past those things. You can only be mad for so long. Life goes on.”

Read more on the controversy in the Post and Daily News.

Read a Q&A with Mookie in the Times. On his path toward becoming a minister, he says: “I’m working on my ordination. I do all the programs at my church. I do the sermons on Sundays. Because I spend so much time roaming around the country, I don’t put in as much time as I should.”

• Kevin Burkhardt is leaving SNY at the end of this season to move to Los Angeles and work full time for Fox Sports.

• The Mets would not speak with the media postgame Friday until Post beat writer Mike Puma left the clubhouse, the Daily News reported. Wrote Kristie Ackert and Justin Tasch:

Apparently angry about an article in the New York Post on Friday about Bartolo Colon under the headline “LARDBALL,” the players would not talk to the media until Post writer Mike Puma left the clubhouse. Puma was asked to leave and did so without incident. Within a minute, several Mets appeared in the clubhouse. The team would not comment on the incident.

The first paragraph of that game story read:

If the umpires searched Bartolo Colon’s neck for a foreign substance on Thursday, chances are they only would have found peanut butter.

• Noah Syndergaard allowed three runs, including a solo homer to Jesus Montero, in six innings as Las Vegas beat Tacoma, 7-6. Aderlin Rodriguez had a grand slam in a 10-run eighth inning as St. Lucie beat Brandenton, 13-4. Savannah swept a doubleheader from Lakewood behind Robert Gsellman’s complete game in the opener and Stefan Sabol’s grand slam in Game 2. Mets affiliates are now an MLB-best 54-26 this season. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Jacob deGrom is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA through four starts with Vegas. “[One of] his strengths [is] command of the strike zone,” 51s pitching coach Tom Signore told John DeMarzo in the Post. “He’s very good when he’s ahead in the count, at making a pitch no matter what, especially his slider going from being a strike to ball. He gets a lot of swings on pitches that are out of the zone.”

• The All-Star ballot is out. With teams allowed to list three outfielders on the ballot, Granderson, Chris Young and Juan Lagares are included, but Eric Young Jr. is omitted. Read more at MLB.com.

BIRTHDAYS: Mets pitcher turned Houston Astros nemesis Mike Scott turns 59. ... Ex-reliever Scott Strickland is 38. ... Amos Otis was born on this date in 1947.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Who should replace Kevin Burkhardt as SNY field reporter in 2014?

Burkhardt officially says he's leaving SNY

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
2:07
PM ET

Adam RubinKevin Burkhardt is leaving SNY after the 2014 season.


NEW YORK -- Kevin Burkhardt has confirmed he is leaving SNY at the end of the current season to join Fox Sports full time in an NFL, MLB and college basketball role.

Burkhardt's SNY contract expires at the end of the season.

Steve Gelbs increasingly has been filling in for Burkhardt on weekends, when Burkhardt's Fox duties conflict.

Burkhardt has served as Mets field reporter on SNY for eight seasons.

He will move to Los Angeles.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Burkhardt told Don Burke in the Post. “Talking about it, I can’t even believe it. It’s totally nuts. Obviously, the job, for me, is incredible. I couldn’t have scripted it any better if I tried. Sometimes in life you’re looking forward to something completely different. It has been quite a couple of years.”

Morning Briefing: Late show in Anaheim

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12
5:00
AM ET

Paul Spinelli/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesThe Angels, perhaps spurred by the Rally Monkey, won in walk-off fashion Friday against the Mets.
ANAHEIM, Calif.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets attempt to bounce back from an extra-inning loss when Jonathon Niese makes his second start of the season Saturday.

Niese (0-1, 3.18 ERA) should be free to throw as many as 105 pitches. He opposes right-hander Jered Weaver (0-2, 6.00) at 9:05 p.m. ET.

With the Mets having the DH available, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda both are expected to start.

Saturday’s news reports:

Jeurys Familia loaded the bases with a pair of one-out intentional walks, then plunked Hank Conger to force in the winning run as the Angels beat the Mets, 5-4, in 11 innings late Friday night. That snapped a streak of 20 1/3 scoreless innings by Mets relievers. The Mets last lost on a walk-off hit by pitch in 2008, courtesy of Scott Schoeneweis. The Angels left 14 men on base. The Mets left four men on base the entire game and failed to score over the final seven innings. A displeased Dillon Gee allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings. Travis d’Arnaud, who grew up 15 minutes from Angel Stadium, homered for the first time in 110 at-bats. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Times and MLB.com.

Curtis Granderson was touched on the back by a fan who reached onto the field during the eighth inning. The spectator was ejected but law enforcement will not get involved, an Angels spokesman said. Read more in the Daily News and Star-Ledger.

• Kevin Burkhardt recalls the 3 a.m. ET firing of Willie Randolph back in 2008, after Game 1 of the Mets’ last series in Anaheim. Burkhardt told Kristie Ackert in the Daily News about SNY’s critical coverage of that event: “I ripped into how they handled it for 15 minutes. I was exhausted. It was one of those things that when I got done, I was like, hmmmm, I wonder how that will be received.”


Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesFree agent Joel Hanrahan is expected to audition for teams next week.


• ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Mets are believed to be one of the teams interested in free-agent reliever Joel Hanrahan, who is 11 months post-Tommy John surgery. Hanrahan is expected to throw for teams next week. Other teams in the mix include the Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Red Sox, Athletics and Rays, according to Crasnick.

Chris Young (quadriceps) is headed to Triple-A Las Vegas to begin a rehab assignment. Terry Collins expects a rotation among four outfielders when C.Y. is activated from the disabled list on Friday in New York. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Record.

• Rainy Lara tossed seven scoreless innings and Brian Burgamy homered twice as Binghamton beat New Hampshire, 7-0. Cam Maron drove in Aderlin Rodriguez in the eighth with the tiebreaking run and St. Lucie beat Fort Myers, 6-3. Robert Gsellman allowed one unearned run in seven innings as Savannah beat Rome, 4-1. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Mets farmhand Akeel Morris, a right-hander from the Virgin Islands, gets a mention in this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet. The report reads:

A 10th-round pick from the Virgin Islands in 2010, Morris struggled with his direction to the plate as a starter, but his potential was obvious given his mid-90s heat. He began seeing results after switching to relief at short-season Brooklyn last year, striking out 60 in 45 innings with a 1.00 ERA. That success has carried over to 2014 as the 21-year-old Morris has recorded 11 strikeouts among the 12 outs he’s recorded this year while throwing four scoreless innings (three of them in one relief outing) at low Class A Savannah. If Morris keeps dominating like that, he might get another shot at the rotation.

• Collins said he is a changed person compared to the late 1990s, when he was managing the Angels. The only thing the same? His short stature, he joked.

"We let him down," Angels third-base coach Gary DiSarcina, who played for Collins with the Angels, told Marc Carig in Newsday. "He didn’t let us down. … We fractured. And he took the blame for it."

Said Bill Bavasi, then the Angels GM, to Tim Rohan in the Times about Collins’ players in Anaheim: “They couldn’t handle being pushed to get better. You know, life was good for them. They were getting paid a lot of money. Why put up with somebody asking you to work a little bit harder? They were just really rotten apples. And blame me. Terry didn’t bring those guys in. I did.”

Read more in the Journal, Star-Ledger and Record.

From the bloggers … Mark Berman at Blogging Mets thinks Collins should have used Jose Valverde with the game on the line Friday.

BIRTHDAYS: Catcher-turned-thoroughbred handicapper Paul Lo Duca turns 42. ... Danny Garcia, the first Brooklyn Cyclone to reach the majors, is 34. ... Minor-league catchers Xorge Carillo (25) and Tomas Nido (20) also celebrate birthdays.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should Jeurys Familia have been pitching a third inning of relief Friday?

Morning Briefing: Getaway Day!

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
5:45
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets are set to bolt from Florida late Thursday afternoon.

After completing Grapefruit League play with a 12:05 p.m. game against the Washington Nationals at Tradition Field (ESPN/SNY), the Amazin’s head to Montreal for a pair of weekend games against the Toronto Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium.

Plenty is going on at the Mets’ complex as the team readies to depart.

Jonathon Niese is scheduled to throw in a 1 p.m. minor-league game. The action comes 10 days after Niese received a cortisone injection in his left elbow in New York to address inflammation. Assuming Niese passes this test, plus another minor-league outing five days later, he will be activated from the disabled list to face the Cincinnati Reds on April 6 at Citi Field.

A setback means Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia will be in the rotation.

Also on a minor-league field Thursday, Bartolo Colon pitches. The Mets prefer Colon pitch on the back field rather than face the Nats because Colon is scheduled to oppose Washington’s Gio Gonzalez in Game 2 of the regular season in six days at Citi Field.

Prospect Cory Mazzoni will oppose Jordan Zimmermann in the Grapefruit League game.

Thursday’s news reports:

Dillon Gee tossed six no-hit innings against the Houston Astros in his final tune-up for Opening Day. He finished Grapefruit League play with a 1.08 ERA and one walk allowed in 16 2/3 innings. The Mets actually lost the game, 9-6, thanks to a seventh-run seventh against John Lannan, Gonzalez Germen and Carlos Torres. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News and MLB.com.


Adam RubinVic Black was demoted Wednesday.


• The Mets demoted Vic Black to Triple-A Las Vegas. Once a bullpen lock, Black pitched himself off the roster by allowing 23 baserunners in 9 1/3 innings.

Germen will make the roster with Black’s demotion. Jose Valverde, who was informed midday Wednesday that he had made the club, will serve as the primary setup man to Bobby Parnell. Parnell may not work more than two straight days early in the season.

Read more on Black’s demotion and the bullpen composition in the Post, Journal, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.

Kyle Farnsworth officially re-signed with the Mets and is expected to open the season with Las Vegas. He has an out a month into the season if he is not promoted to the majors by then.

• The Mets do not expect to make any trades before Opening Day.

• Before Friday’s Mets-Blue Jays game in Montreal, there will be a pregame ceremony honoring the late Gary Carter, who starred for the Expos before arriving in Queens via trade. The Kid’s family will be on hand.

“It is going to be hard. It hasn’t been two years yet, but I knew we had to be there,” widow Sandy Carter told Kristie Ackert in the Daily News. “I agreed when I heard there would be a game at the old park. And then when I heard it was the Mets, I knew it was right. It’s like two pieces of our hearts joining together that night.”


Frank Franklin II/Associated PressThe late Gary Carter will be honored before Friday's game at Olympic Stadium.


As for Sandy Carter’s Montreal experience, she tells the newspaper: “We grew up there. We were 21 and 20 when we got married and moved there. He learned French to be more involved with the fans and the franchise. We were building a house there. And then we started hearing about the trade.

“At first we were shocked, and then we heard from the Mets how Gary was the missing piece of the puzzle there. It was a different challenge, but it was a wonderful one. And the 1986 World Series … well … that was just the best.”

• Fifty-nine percent of New York City residents would root for the Yankees in an October Subway Series and 37 percent would root for the Mets, a Quinnipiac University poll finds. Of the NYC residents surveyed who identified themselves as “very” or “somewhat” interested in baseball, 61 percent said the Yankees were their favorite team and 27 percent said the Mets. The Yankees even have more fans than the Mets in Queens, by a 50-43 margin, the study found. Check out the full results here.

• Forbes appraised the Mets at $800 million, the ninth-most valuable MLB team. The Mets annually dispute the magazine’s appraisal. The Yankees lead MLB with a $2.5 billion appraisal, followed by the Dodgers at $2 billion. The Tampa Bay Rays are worth the least, at $485 million. See Forbes’ full valuation list here. Read more in the Post.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggests Terry Collins has his work cut out for him finding playing time for Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. Writes Sherman:

One Mets official admitted, “It is not ideal.” Which is currently the 2014 baseball season leader for understatement of the year. If it were just that the two bat from the same side of the plate and play the same position, and that neither has remained healthy enough or good enough to win the job outright, then it could all be chalked up as a simple problem of roster inflexibility, and deal with that Terry Collins.

But, come on, we see the real day-after-tomorrow problem coming as clearly as Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s dismissal. Unless one of the duo seizes the job and doesn’t let go -- and what in either’s past suggests that likelihood -- then Collins is going to face the daily dilemma, disquiet and discussion about who is going to play first base.

• Mike Puma in the Post writes that Ruben Tejada has won the shortstop competition by default.

Juan Lagares needs to concentrate on strike-zone discipline to be a regular with the Mets. Collins pointed to a game Tuesday in which Lagares chased a fastball way up and out of the zone and struck out. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Anthony DiComo at MLB.com has a Q&A with broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt.

• Columnist David Lennon in Newsday asks David Wright if the Mets have kept the promises they made to him when he signed an eight-year extension.

• The New York Observer has a lengthy cover piece on Wright. Writes Rafi Kohan:

When I ask about his relationship with Fred Wilpon, the team’s owner, who openly ripped Wright -- “A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.” -- in a 2011 New Yorker article that focused on the team’s financial dealings with Bernie Madoff, Wright sighs and says the whole thing was blown out of proportion. “Did it sting a little bit? Of course,” he says, “because you’re talking about your owner saying these things. But our relationship is strong enough that he can say that and it’s not going to break the loyalty that either one of us have for one another.”

From the bloggers … Rising Apple staff gives its Mets record predictions.

BIRTHDAYS: Matt Harvey turns 25. ... 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo is 21.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Are you surprised by Vic Black’s demotion?

Morning Briefing: Happy Wheeler Day!

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
6:23
AM ET

Adam RubinA day after Noah Syndergaard took the mound, Zack Wheeler pitches for the Mets on Tuesday.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: Happy Wheeler Day!

Zack Wheeler makes his 2014 Grapefruit League debut opposite left-hander Rudy Owens as the Mets host the Houston Astros on Tuesday at 1:10 p.m. (SNY).

Also listed to pitch: Kyle Farnsworth, John Church, Vic Black, Adam Kolarek, Scott Rice and Cory Mazzoni.

Bill Parcells is expected to attend the game.

Wheeler is lined up to pitch the season’s fourth game, the opener of the second series against the Cincinnati Reds on April 4 at Citi Field.

Terry Collins, incidentally, says David Wright and Daniel Murphy should see their first Grapefruit League action at the end of this week. Both have been held out of the first several Grapefruit League games to minimize the risk of suffering side-muscle issues that arose in previous spring trainings.

Tuesday’s news reports:

• Noah Syndergaard dialed his fastball up to 98 mph to strike out leadoff hitter Jason Heyward and limited the Atlanta Braves to one single in two scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut as the accolades continued to pile up for the top prospect.

"Harvey’s Harvey," Braves outfielder Justin Upton told reporters. “But [Syndergaard] and Wheeler are definitely a very close second.”

Read new stories on Syndergaard in the Times, Post, Daily News, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com. Read columnists’ positive reviews from Joel Sherman in the Post, David Lennon in Newsday, Bob Klapsich in the Record and Phil Rogers at MLB.com.


Courtesy of New York MetsCory Vaughn produced a tiebreaking two-run double in a fifth-run ninth Monday.


• Cory Vaughn had a tiebreaking two-run double in a five-run ninth as the Mets got off the schneid with the 6-2 win against Atlanta at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Ike Davis was scratched from Monday’s trip with tightness in his calves, but Terry Collins has Davis as well as Ruben Tejada (hamstring) and Eric Young Jr. (side muscle) penciled into Tuesday’s lineup against the Astros. Lucas Duda departed Monday’s game with tight legs, according to Collins. Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.

Mike Piazza is serving as a guest instructor in Port St. Lucie this week, marking his first time working for the Mets since his playing days. Travis d’Arnaud, who grew up idolizing Piazza with the Los Angeles Dodgers, is particularly thrilled. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.

Johan Santana reportedly is poised to sign a minor-league deal with the Baltimore Orioles. He likely will not be ready to pitch in the majors until June after a second shoulder surgery. Read more in the Baltimore Sun.

• SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt has been named the Los Angeles-based pregame host for Fox’s Saturday baseball telecasts. Steve Gelbs primarily will fill in when Burkhardt has conflicts with weekend Fox duties. Burkhardt also calls NFL games for the network. He is in the final year of his contract with SNY as a field reporter. Read more in the Times and Newsday.

Dillon Gee has been named to an advisory board for the Taylor Hooton Foundation. The group aims to dissuade young people from using performance-enhancing drugs. Read more in the Daily News.

Matt Harvey will attempt to toss a baseball on consecutive days this week, marking his first time throwing back-to-back since Tommy John surgery, he told the Daily News’ Kristie Ackert.

• Instant replay will be tested at four Mets spring-training games at Tradition Field: this Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals as well as March 15, 18 and 23. Jayson Stark at ESPN.com reports on the first replay challenge in MLB, which came Monday.

• The Mets agreed to contract terms with all 26 of their players who are on the 40-man roster and lacking the service time to be eligible for arbitration. Translation: That’s a formality, since the Mets can set those players’ salaries at any level the club desires, as long as it is at least the $500,000 MLB minimum.

Once every several years, as a protest, a young player will refuse to sign the contract and instead will be “renewed” by the Mets. That’s what occurred with Wright during spring training in 2006, when the Mets set his salary at $374,000 -- only $47,000 over that season’s major-league minimum. Wright had hit .306 with 27 homers and 102 RBIs the previous season, in his first full year in the majors.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear is intrigued by what Piazza offers as an instructor, if not as excited by what he produced as an author. … John Delcos at Mets Report wonders if Fred Wilpon will provide the necessary funds this summer if the Mets need to add a piece. … NY Mets Life ponders whether the Mets have really improved this offseason.

BIRTHDAYS: Tom Grieve, who played one season for the Mets, was born on this date in 1948.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will Noah Syndergaard win NL Rookie of the Year?

SNY's Burkhardt named Fox baseball host

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
3:35
PM ET

Adam RubinKevin Burkhardt high-fives a Marlins mascot at the end of the 2012 season.


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Fox has named Kevin Burkhardt as its Los Angeles-based pregame host for Saturday baseball.

Burkhardt will remain with SNY as a field reporter this season for games that do not conflict.

He became a popular NFL announcer in his rookie season calling that sport for Fox this past season.

Steve Gelbs is expected to serve as Burkhardt's primary fill-in.

Morning Briefing: Back to work

June, 4, 2013
6/04/13
6:14
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: After a day off in D.C. to regroup from getting swept against the Miami Marlins, the Mets get back to work.

Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.74 ERA) and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (8-3, 2.37) meet in today’s 7:05 p.m. opener at Nationals Park.

Read the Mets-Nats series preview here.

Tuesday’s news reports:


Courtesy of Wheeler familyCan you name this soon-to-be Met? It's Zack Wheeler, playing high school basketball for East Paulding (Ga.) High.


• ESPNNewYork.com profiles Zack Wheeler, with input from father Barry, brother Jacob and Matt Harvey. (Warning: A young Zack is seen wearing a Braves jersey and hat.)

• After being examined in New York, catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud will remain in a protective boot for another week, but can begin walking while wearing it. D’Arnaud originally fractured the first metatarsal in his left foot on April 17 with Triple-A Las Vegas. Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.

David Wright is trying to do too much and is chasing pitches outside the strike zone rather than taking walks, writes Marc Carig in Newsday. Wright’s average has dipped to .277. He is hitting .174 (8-for-46) with one homer, two RBIs and 11 strikeouts in his past 12 starts.

• Pitching coach Dan Warthen believes Bobby Parnell should be an All-Star. “Because [Parnell] should have a below 1.00 ERA, because he’s striking out a guy an inning, because he’s done the job each and every time he’s walked out to the mound,” Warthen told Mike Puma in the Post. “I don’t see anybody who has done any better than him, including [Braves closer Craig] Kimbrel.” Read more in the Record.

• Dr. James Andrews agreed that Scott Atchison does not need surgery now to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggests Mets fans were deceived by the Subway Series. Writes Sherman:

And there is no one quite as human as you, Met fans. Five straight wins, particularly those four against the Yankees, had you sweeping two months of dreadful baseball aside. Here came the Marlins for six of the next nine and soon after Zack Wheeler would arrive, and maybe Travis d’Arnaud before long and maybe -- just maybe -- Sandy Alderson could make a trade for an actual major league outfielder in July.

Amazin’ what five good days could do for the soul of even a despondent fan. “Honey, where did I put my Mets cap?”

Except no fan base should know the devilish realities of small sample sizes better than those who root for the Mets. They should recognize just how deceptive even a dreadful team could be for a week, a month or even a couple of months.


Adam RubinSNY field reporter Kevin Burkhardt has a new NFL gig to keep his fall active.


• SNY field reporter Kevin Burkhardt will be the newest NFL play-by-play man on Fox, according to SI.com.

• Hefner says he is unconcerned about his rotation spot being affected by Wheeler’s looming arrival. “I don’t worry about it anymore,” Hefner told Kristie Ackert in the Daily News.

• Brian Costa in the Journal reviews how the Mets got to Las Vegas as their Triple-A affiliate. The short summary: Norfolk kicked the Mets out. So the Mets temporarily went to New Orleans. Buffalo then became available and the Mets went there. Then Buffalo booted the Mets, too. "They're undesirable," Dave Rosenfield, the longtime Norfolk Tides GM, told Costa. "Nobody wants them."

• ESPN’s Keith Law continues to project the Mets will select Gardena, Calif., high school first baseman Dominic Smith with the 11th overall pick in the draft on Thursday.

"There are some guys obviously that we like more than others, but there are definitely 11 guys that we like a lot," Paul DePodesta told Anthony DiComo at MLB.com. "In fact, there are more than 11. So going into this year, I think we're very comfortable with what the outcome is likely to be on June 6. We don't know the name of the player or the position or anything like that, but we're going to have a good choice, and we're going to get someone we like an awful lot."

The Mets will have a $6.99 million bonus pool to spread over their first 10 rounds’ selections.

Scott Rice tells Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger that the development of a split-finger fastball last year finally helped him reach the majors in his 15th professional season.

• Kevin J. Ryan in ESPN The Magazine profiles The 7 Line merchandise founder Darren Meenan.

• Noah Syndergaard surrendered a two-run double in the fifth inning and no other damage, but was tagged with the loss as Lakeland beat St. Lucie, 2-1. Carlos Torres tossed a three-hit shutout for Las Vegas. Read the full minor league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Catcher Rick Wilkins, who appeared in five games for the Mets in 1998, is 46.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: When do you predict Zack Wheeler will make his major league debut?

Morning Briefing: Extend TC now!

May, 31, 2013
5/31/13
5:48
AM ET
FIRST PITCH: Give him the extension already. And how about a key to the city for Terry Collins, too?

Collins acknowledged after presiding over a Subway Series sweep that the Mets recently had started to lose hope. The despair left him to try the last thing in his managerial playbook -- the reprimand of job loss to his players -- to try to turn things around.


Adam Rubin
Mets PR man Jay Horwitz put on orange and blue sneakers Sunday. Five games -- and five wins -- later, he keeps wearing them to work each day.


Now, the Mets are on a five-game winning streak, albeit still seven games under .500 and nine games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves.

But maybe, just maybe, the Mets (22-29) can make things interesting. Six of their next nine games come against the woeful, Giancarlo Stanton-less Miami Marlins.

Tonight’s 7:10 series opener in Miami features winless Shaun Marcum (0-5, 5.77 ERA) against call-up Jacob Turner (3-4, 4.47 ERA at Triple-A New Orleans).

Friday’s news reports:

Dillon Gee, Scott Rice and Bobby Parnell combined to retire the final 20 batters and the Mets completed their first-ever sweep of a season series from the Yankees with a 3-1 win Thursday in the Bronx. Gee, threatened with losing his rotation spot by Collins, responded with a career-high 12 strikeouts in a dominating 88-pitch performance that carried him into the eighth inning.

Writes columnist David Lennon in Newsday:

It was a good [Yankees] run, and now it's over after the Mets exposed their Bronx buddies this week in every way imaginable, capped by Thursday night's 3-1 win at the Stadium. They outpitched the Yankees, outhit them and, as an added bonus, even beat Mariano Rivera before he could register an out in Tuesday night's dramatic finish.

Not bad for a Mets team that was 11 games below .500 when this home-and-home Subway Series began Monday. Back then, Terry Collins would have signed up for a split in a heartbeat. Even Jeff Wilpon, after winning the Citi Field opener, pulled a Joe Biden and mistakenly conceded the rest of the season in a pregame fete for Rivera.

It was an embarrassing slip. But by Thursday night, with a sweep complete, it was the Mets who enjoyed the last laugh.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Journal and MLB.com.

• Read more on Gee in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News and Record.

Ruben Tejada avoided a demotion, but ended up landing on the disabled list with a right quadriceps strain. Collins said there is no guarantee Tejada will regain the shortstop job when he is healthy. It will depend largely on how promoted Omar Quintanilla performs in the interim. Read more in the Times, Journal, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Post, Newsday and Record.

Jonathon Niese will miss Saturday’s start with shoulder tendinitis. He was unable to throw his normal between-starts bullpen session Wednesday. Niese, who was examined Thursday morning by team doctors, expects to only skip one start. Collin McHugh will take Niese’s turn against the Marlins. Read more in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Post and Newsday.

Collins said Zack Wheeler was not a consideration for Niese’s turn. Left unsaid is that the Mets are waiting until after the Super 2 deadline to promote Wheeler. The June 14-16 home series against the Chicago Cubs may be a realistic estimate for Wheeler’s major league debut.

On Wheeler, Las Vegas manager Wally Backman told Newsday: "This kid's ready. He's ready to pitch in the big leagues. I personally believe that. His stuff definitely plays. It's a matter of when the organization feels he's ready to go there. … Once that blister went away, we've really seen what Zack is really all about. He threw four starts in a row where it looked like a big-league guy throwing to high school kids at times. …


Kathy Willens/Associated Press
Marlon Byrd and John Buck celebrate Thursday's Subway Series win.


“I can remember Matt [Harvey] last year coming into the office when he threw two or three great starts and saying, 'When the [heck] am I going to the big leagues?' I said, 'Hey, just keep putting up zeros and they've gotta make a decision.' It was an everyday thing with him. Zack's a little more laid back than Matt, but the competitiveness is definitely there."

Robinson Cano and Jordany Valdespin hail from the same town in the Dominican Republic.

“I would like to see him play every day,” Cano told Anthony McCarron in the Daily News about Valdespin. “I guarantee he’d do a good job. He loves this game. He’d have good numbers. He’s got power. He’s a contact hitter. He swings hard, but he might learn. The more you play, the more you learn what situations to use a long swing or swing for a homer or go the other way. It’s easier when you play every day. …

“Sometimes you’ve got to calm down a little bit. But that’s the way he plays the game. [Nick] Swisher, too, plays the same way, with a lot of energy, always laughing. When you’re on the other side, you might say, ‘Who does this guy [Swisher] think he is?’ But when you’re with him on the same team, you know what kind of guy he is -- one of the great teammates you could ever have.”

• Reliever Scott Atchison, on the DL, experienced renewed numbness in fingers on his pitching hand. He will seek a second opinion about whether surgery is required to remove a bone spur in his right elbow.

• Catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud is due to be reexamined Monday in Manhattan, hoping to get permission to shed a protective boot from his fractured left foot and begin weight-bearing activity.

• Neil Best in Newsday does a day-in-the-life story on SNY field reporter Kevin Burkhardt.

• A dating web site is fond of David Wright, writes the Daily News.

• Mike Kerwick in the Record gets reaction to Jeff Wilpon’s World Series-being-unrealistic suggestion.

Marlon Byrd has homered in consecutive games. Read more in the Post.

Brandon Hicks, Josh Satin and Brian Bixler homered in Las Vegas’ 11-1 win against Reno. Josh Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to 16 games and drove in the tiebreaking run as Binghamton beat Altoona, 6-4. Read the full minor league recap here.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear discovers sitting through four consecutive games versus the Yankees is nothing like pulling teeth. … John Delcos at Mets Report notes the Tejada decision resolved itself, which is often the case.

BIRTHDAYS: Outfielder Joe Orsulak turns 51.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets reverse course and give Terry Collins an extension now, rather than wait until the end of the season to make an evaluation?

Morning briefing: Banner Day all wet?

May, 11, 2013
5/11/13
6:20
AM ET

Courtesy of New York Mets
Cousins Olivia Nuzzo and Stephanie Giangrande show off the winning entry in the revival of Banner Day last May.
FIRST PITCH: Banner Day, the revived annual tradition, comes to Citi Field before today’s game on what is forecast to be a rainy day in Flushing.

Edgardo Alfonzo, Kevin Burkhardt and 92.3 NOW morning-show host Ty Bentli will serve as judges.

Weather-permitting at 1:10 p.m., Jonathon Niese (2-3, 4.66 ERA) opposes left-hander Francisco Liriano, who is making his Pittsburgh Pirates debut after fracturing the humerus bone in his non-pitching arm on Christmas Day. Niese recently has been dealing with a back issue.

All eyes will be on the minors, too. Zack Wheeler tries to post a third straight solid start for Triple-A Las Vegas when he faces Albuquerque at 10:05 p.m. ET.

Terry Collins, by the way, says it’s the front office’s call -- not his -- about when the top prospect is promoted. (The front office is undoubtedly cognizant of not wanting to give Wheeler an extra year of arbitration, so the call-up may very well wait until June.)

Jenrry Mejia’s road back to the majors also continues today. Mejia, shut down in spring training with forearm tendinitis, starts for Class A St. Lucie.

Saturday’s news reports:

Shaun Marcum failed to complete five innings for the third straight start. The ex-Brewer was charged with six runs in 4 2/3 innings as the Mets lost to the Pirates, 7-3, Friday night. Marcum also took a liner off his left thumb. X-rays were negative.


Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Shaun Marcum has failed to complete five innings in any of his three Mets starts.


“When you look at what happened to him in spring training, with the extent of his injuries, he’s a command guy,” Collins said. “His sinker is his big pitch, and changeup. He has to pitch to both sides of the plate. And I think he’s just still in the mode of getting himself right.”

Said David Wright about the team’s continued hitting woes after the Mets went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position Friday: “I think guys are pressing probably a little bit, and rightfully so. Everybody wants to be that guy that gets that big hit to break the spell. But in doing so you put a little too much pressure on yourself sometimes.”

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Times, Record, Newsday, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Journal and MLB.com.

• Wright fouled a ball off the inside of his left knee. He hopes to be available to play today. Read more at MLB.com.

Jeurys Familia is suffering from biceps tenditinis. That may prompt the Mets to activate Frank Francisco without another minor league appearance, with Familia potentially landing on the disabled list.

• On the timetable for Wheeler’s promotion, Anthony McCarron writes in the Daily News:

So here’s hoping, for their own sake, the Mets judge Wheeler’s next few weeks wisely. They can’t react to the lethargic crowds at Citi Field -- there was an announced attendance of 25,123 Friday, and the Mets started the day ninth in the NL in attendance -- by sending for Wheeler. Night after night, regardless of a few Mike Baxter walk-offs, some decent relief showings and Matt Harvey’s magic, we’re learning how difficult this season is likely to be for the Mets.

They don’t score much anymore, as Collins noted when he said, “We aren’t giving them much room to wiggle, on the mound.” They have outfield issues and they need to fix Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada. They are 4-9 in their last 13 games.


In other words, what’s the rush? Wheeler may help save the Mets, but that really feels like a 2014 narrative, not one from this season.

Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post says Wheeler "can't get here fast enough."

Jordany Valdespin admired his solo homer in the ninth. Collins said there is nothing he can do about it anymore. Meanwhile, as Mother’s Day approaches, Anthony DiComo at MLB.com writes that Valdespin’s major league earnings have allowed him to tell his mother to quit working as a housemaid in their native Dominican Republic.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggests the Mets may be approaching the point at which they have to decide whether Davis or Lucas Duda plays first base … and trade the other.

• Read more on Liriano joining the Pirates in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

• Darrell Ceciliani went 3-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs as Binghamton responded a day later to getting no-hit with a rain-shortened 8-4 win against Harrisburg. St. Lucie starter Domingo Tapia landed on the DL after burning his non-pitching hand. Beck Wheeler suffered the loss in relief as Rome beat Savannah, 3-2. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Jorge Arangure in the Times and Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger write about Mike Baxter’s success as a pinch hitter -- and his attacking approach as compared with his patience as a starter. Baxter, unused Friday, is 5-for-9 as a pinch hitter this season and produced his first two walk-off hits this week.

Justin Turner started over slumping Daniel Murphy at second base Friday. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests the Mets should not think about signing arbitration-eligible Ike Davis to a multiyear deal. … Faith and Fear in Flushing frets over what to do when you can't get 3G or 4G but you want to know what's up with Dillon Gee. … Metsmerized points out the uncanny similarities between Matt Harvey and Tom Seaver and suggests younger fans can now feel what it must have been like when Seaver first came up.

BIRTHDAYS: Right-hander Walt Terrell, whose Dec. 7, 1984 trade to the Detroit Tigers brought Howard Johnson to Flushing, turns 55.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Even if he is not the closer, can Frank Francisco be useful to the Mets?

Morning briefing: Harvey vs. Ventura, Sox

May, 7, 2013
5/07/13
8:39
AM ET

Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports
Robin Ventura visits Flushing today as manager of the Chicago White Sox.
FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey, pitching with three days of extra rest, aims to go to 5-0 when he faces Robin Ventura and Joe McEwing’s Chicago White Sox at Citi Field tonight at 7:10.

From ESPN Stats & Information:

Harvey has allowed more than one run in only one of his past eight starts, dating to last season. His only prior interleague start was eight innings of two-hit ball against the Minnesota Twins on April 13.

Ventura played only three seasons for the Mets (1999-2001), but made quite an impact. David Wright, Dave Kingman and Ventura share the club record for the most six-RBI games in Mets history with three. Ventura also hit five grand slams with the Mets, one shy of Mike Piazza’s club record.

Of course, that does not include Ventura’s “grand-slam single” in the 15th inning of Game 5 of the 1999 National League Championship Series against the Braves to cap an epic comeback win.

The White Sox are actually playing the Mets in New York for the first time.

Harvey opposes Newark's Hector Santiago tonight. Harvey originally was supposed to line up to face fellow 2010 first-round pick Chris Sale, but Sale's start moved up a day to Monday in K.C. after Jake Peavy needed to be delayed due to back spasms.

Tuesday’s news reports:

• Harvey last pitched last Monday in Miami. He is unconcerned about the extra rest as well as logging a career-high 121 pitches against the Marlins. His last offering in Miami registered 96 mph. "I feel like I can go out there 120, 130 pitches each time and my body can handle it," Harvey said. (Terry Collins said that pitch count will not be the norm.) Writes Jared Diamond in the Journal:

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander led baseball with six complete games last season and still averaged only 114.2 pitches per start. No other pitcher even averaged 110. Harvey is averaging 104.5 so far this year.

Last season, the Mets curtailed Harvey's season after 169 1/3 innings between the majors and minors. They say they won't limit him this season, but their actions suggest they remain at least somewhat concerned about their phenom's workload.

After Harvey's 121-pitch outing last week, the Mets planned to give him an extra day of rest so he could recover. Harvey said he didn't need it and wanted to start on his regular rotation.

Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.


Courtesy of New York Mets
Zack Wheeler has shaved his ERA to 4.00 with Las Vegas.


• In his past two starts with Triple-A Las Vegas, Zack Wheeler has limited opponents to one run, eight hits and two walks while striking out 12 in 12 innings.

“Outstanding -- the best he’s pitched all year,” 51s manager Wally Backman told Mike Puma in the Post. “He’s turning the corner. That is what we have seen the last two starts. If we see that a couple of more starts, he’s going to be pushing the door open himself, forcing the issue for sure. … He’s showed excellent command the last couple of starts. Before he was missing up and out of the strike zone, arm side, all the time and [Sunday] he never missed one time up and out of the zone arm side.”

• Sandy Alderson tells Kristie Ackert in the Daily News about Ike Davis: “I don't think he's happy with what has happened to date. We would have hoped for a better performance to this point, but the evidence is he can do it. And he could do that again this season. We'll see what transpires. But Ike is a big part of the team. We expect him to come around soon.”

Read more on Davis’ slow start in the Post.

• 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo was batting .414 for low-A Savannah through April 23. He now is in an 0-for-20 rut with the Gnats and actually has not played since April 29 because of a hand injury.

"We want him to go through this," Savannah manager Luis Rojas told Clint Robus in Newsday. "This is part of his development, and this is the part where he's going to ... figure out a lot more things."

Said Nimmo about the slump: "I knew this was going to happen. So I'm not too surprised."

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post notes there is one player from the Johan Santana swap with the Twins that is contributing big time. That is Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez, who leads the NL with a .368 average. Gomez along with Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra went to Minnesota on Feb. 2, 2008 for Santana.

• Wright had six steals in April -- on pace for a 30-steal season. He had one 30-30 season in his career -- in 2007. "When the situation presents itself, I feel like I have the ability to take a base here and there," he told Mike Kerwick in the Record. "But I’m not going to steal bases for the sake of trying to get a certain [number of] bases or for the sake of doing it. I’m going to do it for a reason."

• St. Lucie right-hander Hansel Robles returned from an upper-back injury to limit Daytona to one run in five innings in a 6-2 win Monday. Frank Francisco pitched for the second straight day for the Florida State League club, allowing one hit in a scoreless inning. Read the full minor league recap here.

• It’s a safe bet Bobby Parnell will not lose his closer’s job once Francisco is activated from the disabled list. Read a profile of Parnell’s adaption to that role from Anthony DiComo at MLB.com.

• The Mets’ Saturday postponement in Atlanta will be made up on June 18 as part of a split doubleheader at Turner Field. It now becomes a five-game series against the Braves.

Edgardo Alfonzo, Kevin Burkhardt and 92.3 Now's Ty Bentli will judge Saturday’s Banner Day at Citi Field.

From the bloggers … Blogging Mets checks in to see how several ex-Mets are doing with their new teams so far this season.

BIRTHDAYS: Brook Fordyce, who was drafted by the Mets in the third round out of high school in Connecticut in 1989 and made his major league debut with the club six years later, is 43.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Where does Robin Ventura factor in among your favorite Mets of all time?

Jack Dempsey/Associated Press
Rockies owner Dick Monfort helps clear eight inches of snow from Coors Field before Tuesday's doubleheader. The twin bill was delayed two hours because of the removal efforts.
DENVER

FIRST PITCH: Ruben Tejada’s throwing error in the eighth led to two unearned runs that tied the score and the Rockies overcame a six-run deficit to eventually beat the Mets 9-8 in 10 innings in the nightcap of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

The Mets were swept in the twin bill, which was delayed for 122 minutes at the start because eight inches of snow needed to be removed from Coors Field. Even Rockies owner Dick Monfort grabbed a shovel, aware the club did not have enough manpower to remove the snow without enlisting office workers.

"I know our guys were freezing at the end of the game,” Terry Collins said late Tuesday, after the sweep. “Freezing. But they had to play. And they did the best they could. We lost two games. We had a chance to win the second game. It would have been a little easier to take. But I'm not going to use weather as an excuse. They did a great job getting the field ready. We're going to leave here hopefully with all four games played. We've just got to regroup and hopefully play better tomorrow."

The Mets and Rockies will try to play Game 3 of the series at 8:40 p.m. ET today, but the forecast may make that a struggle.

One to three inches is predicted during the daytime for Denver, with a nighttime low of 21 degrees and a 70 percent chance of more snowfall in the evening.

Weather-permitting, Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 6.00 ERA) opposes right-hander Jon Garland (1-0, 3.75) tonight.

Wednesday’s news reports:

• The once-sure-handed Tejada now has six errors in 13 games this season. He said the cold weather is not a valid excuse.

Lucas Duda’s back tightened and he was pulled from Tuesday’s nightcap in the fifth inning. Duda minimized the issue and vowed to be back in the lineup today. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.

Dillon Gee’s short outing in Game 1 contributed to an 8-4 loss. The rotation trio of Gee, Hefner and Aaron Laffey clearly is a concern.

• Laffey, who allowed two runs in four innings in Game 2, will be back on short rest Saturday to face the Washington Nationals, Collins said. Laffey is expected to oppose Gio Gonzalez.

The marquee matchup remains Matt Harvey facing Stephen Strasburg on Friday night. Gee and Jordan Zimmermann line up for Sunday’s series finale at Citi Field.

• Read recaps of the doubleheader sweep in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Denver Post and Record.

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post suggests the Mets will have a compelling second half no matter how they are performing. Davidoff cites curiosity about Collins’ job status in the final year of a contract, looming promotions of Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud, the numbers Harvey will put up over his first full major league season and the Mets’ shopping for an outfielder (whether or not they’re in contention) as must-see topics.

• Travis Lawley’s grand slam paced St. Lucie to a 13-3 win against Charlotte. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Read more on the snow-removal efforts in the Times, Denver Post, Journal, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Record.

Mike Piazza has started practicing for a cameo in the Miami City Ballet. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt handles play-by-play for Saturday’s Mets-Nats game televised by Fox.

From the bloggers Faith and Fear in Flushing takes comfort in a sweet story regarding a longtime Mets fan and his incandescent encounter with the late Danny Frisella.

BIRTHDAYS: Catcher Gary Bennett, who was acquired for Todd Pratt and traded a month later for player-to-be-named Ender Chavez in 2001, turns 41.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: How excited are you about Friday’s projected Matt Harvey-Stephen Strasburg matchup?

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.294 7 37 56
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 14
RBIL. Duda 49
RD. Murphy 56
OPSL. Duda .832
WB. Colon 8
ERAJ. Niese 2.96
SOZ. Wheeler 105