New York Mets: Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesThe Mets will play two games against the Chicago Cubs this weekend in Las Vegas.
FIRST PITCH: Half the Mets are jetting out of Florida on Friday.
The Mets play split-squad games Saturday and Sunday against the Chicago Cubs in Las Vegas, with Bartolo Colon and Jenrry Mejia getting the starts. The Mets’ chartered flight leaves midday, and also is due to include Terry Collins, David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud.
Remaining in Florida, Zack Wheeler gets the start at 7:05 p.m. Friday in Jupiter (WOR 710 AM). He opposes Miami Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler, a product of Stony Brook University. Dillon Gee starts Saturday and Jonathon Niese starts Sunday.
Friday’s news reports:
• Collins gave Ruben Tejada a vote of confidence Thursday, telling him: “Listen, you’re the shortstop here.” Still, that is in large part a reflection of the Mets not having any other viable internal starting options. The bottom line: After Tejada committed his third error of spring training and went hitless in three at-bats to drop his Grapefruit League average to .067, the Mets may have to intensify their pursuit of an external option.
Read more on Tejada in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.
• Addressing pitching coach Dan Warthen’s use of an Asian slur and subsequent apology, Daisuke Matsuzaka said through his intrepreter: “I don’t expect our relationship to change going forward.”
Dice-K’s comment came after Matsuzaka had a strong pitching performance against the Washington Nationals and seemed to further solidify his hold on the fifth-starter role.
Jonathon Niese, meanwhile, reportedly lashed out at reporters in clubhouse concerning the Warthen topic, saying: "Stop Tweeting about our clubhouse. That ----'s got to stop,” according to a tweet from Newsday’s Anthony Rieber.
Read more on Warthen’s apology, with Matsuzaka’s reaction, in the Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and Star-Ledger.
• In what may have been his final 2014 Grapefruit League performance before departing for minor-league camp, Noah Syndergaard again impressed. He ultimately was charged with three runs in 3 2/3 innings, after leaving two runners on base and having Jacob deGrom serve up a three-run homer.
Rafael Montero and deGrom were getting relief looks from Collins, who noted that is how those prospects may be introduced to the big leagues at some point this season.
The Mets ultimately beat the Nats, 7-5, at Space Coast Stadium on Thursday thanks to a two-run single in the ninth from Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Nieuwenhuis, who likely is ticketed for the Triple-A outfield with Matt den Dekker, Cesar Puello and very possibly Andrew Brown, is hitting .304 with a homer and seven RBIs through 23 at-bats. Meanwhile, first baseman Brandon Allen departed the game in the ninth inning with a calf injury.
Read recaps of Syndergaard’s performance and the game in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Journal and MLB.com.
• With Darrelle Revis defecting to the New England Patriots, Jonathan Lehman in the Post creates an all-time list of New York athletes who changed allegiances to a bitter rival. Those with Mets ties include Darryl Strawberry and Tom Glavine.
• Read more on the Mets’ trip to Vegas in the Times. Team insiders tell ESPNNewYork.com that a major reason for the team to make the trip is the big-league team will financially profit. The Las Vegas 51s, who host the game, are the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, so there is some goodwill involved, too.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing attempts to deconstruct the tale of Stu Woo and Dan Warthen. … John Delcos at Mets Report says Tejada is likely the Opening Day shortstop because Sandy Alderson will not make a bold move.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever Josh Stinson, now with the Orioles, turns 26. ... Mets farmhand Rainy Lara is 23. Lara had a 3.76 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts) with Class A St. Lucie last season.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Jacob deGrom had surrendered a game-tying three-run homer to Brock Peterson a half-inning earlier after inheriting two runners from Noah Syndergaard.
Nieuwenhuis had walked with the bases loaded as the Mets produced four eighth-inning runs to take a 5-2 lead.
Ouch: With Ike Davis (calf) and Lucas Duda (hamstring) already sidelined, the Mets suffered another injury to a first baseman. Brandon Allen hobbled off the field after reaching second base in the top of the ninth on Nieuwenhuis’ decisive two-run single.
Allen injured a calf, although Terry Collins did not know the severity.
“He jumped out of the way of the ground ball and his calf grabbed,” Collins said. “We aren’t sure if it’s a cramp or a strain yet.”
What’s next: Vegas! Well, for half of Mets camp anyway.
A Mets contingent, which includes David Wright and Curtis Granderson, will fly Friday afternoon to Nevada in advance of a pair of weekend games against the Chicago Cubs at Cashman Field, home of the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
Meanwhile, those left behind will face the Miami Marlins on Friday in the first night game of spring training. Zack Wheeler opposes Stony Brook University product Tom Koehler in the 7:05 p.m. game in Jupiter (on WOR 710 AM).
The southpaw retired the final eight batters he faced and limited the St. Louis Cardinals to two unearned runs on three hits in four innings. The Mets ultimately lost, 6-4, at Tradition Field.
Lannan surrendered a game-opening infield single to Matt Carpenter. A passed ball from Taylor Teagarden pushed Carpenter to second. He then scored on a bunt and groundout.
An inning later, Lannan surrendered a leadoff double to Stephen Piscotty. The Cards eventually loaded the bases with none out when David Wright was unable to hold Randal Grichuk’s liner and was charged with an error. Still, Lannan minimized the damage. He got Tony Cruz to ground into a run-scoring double play and struck out Pete Kozma.
“The first inning didn’t go as I planned, but sometimes it happens,” Lannan said. “After that double play I settled down and started making some good pitches.”
As for a potential relief role, Lannan added: “The possibility of it has been brought up to me, just in conversation. I started today, and I’m going to act as if I’m starting five days from now, until I’m told otherwise.”
Ouch: Kyle Farnsworth, who is not projected to make the Opening Day bullpen unless he suddenly upgrades his performance, surrendered consecutive rockets in the seventh inning. Piscotty blasted a triple off the left-field wall. One batter later, Kolten Wong delivered a two-run homer to right field as St. Louis took a 4-0 lead.
There should be an early verdict with Farnsworth. He has a March 23 “out” in his contract.
Welcome back: In his first game since injuring his right shin Friday, Daniel Murphy started at second base and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
Seventh heaven: Juan Lagares delivered a two-run single against Kevin Butler with the bases loaded to pull the Mets within 4-2 in the seventh. Brandon Allen chased Butler with an ensuing RBI single that pulled the Mets within a run.
A half-inning later, however, Joel Carreño loaded the bases and then walked in a run. Jeff Walters entered and uncorked a wild pitch that made it 6-3.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis tripled and scored on Andrew Brown's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth.
Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez had blanked the Mets through four innings.
Closer call: Bobby Parnell tossed a scoreless ninth inning with one walk in his second Grapefruit League appearance. His fastball sat at 88-89 mph during a 12-pitch frame.
What’s next: Fifth-starter frontrunner Daisuke Matsuzaka gets the start at 1:05 p.m. Thursday against the Washington Nationals in Viera. Noah Syndergaard follows him on the mound. Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom also are on the trip. Left-hander Ross Detwiler starts for the Nats.
FIRST PITCH: John Lannan’s best bet to make the Opening Day roster appears as a second bullpen left-hander alongside Scott Rice, but Lannan continues to be evaluated at as a starter, too.
Lannan gets Wednesday’s Grapefruit League start against the St. Louis Cardinals at Tradition Field at 1:10 p.m. (SNY). He opposes right-hander Carlos Martinez.
Terry Collins expects Daniel Murphy to be in the lineup Wednesday for the first time since injuring his right calf on an aggressive slide into second baseman Kolten Wong in Friday’s Grapefruit League game. The manager added that Ike Davis (calf) and Lucas Duda (hamstring) may only be a day away from at least serving as designated hitters on the minor-league side of the complex.
Wednesday’s news reports:
One source also asserts the Mets are leaning toward carrying Daisuke Matsuzaka over Jenrry Mejia as the fifth starter, although they still consider that a competition. If Mejia is not in the big-league rotation, a serious powwow would be convened to determine whether Mejia becomes a reliever, or is used as a starter at Triple-A Las Vegas. Regardless, Mets officials want to make a decision regarding Mejia’s role and stick with it, rather than continue to shuffle him between the rotation and relief.
Lannan, meanwhile, is receptive to a relief assignment if it will get him on the Opening Day roster.
Read the full roster projection and analysis here.
Read more on Lannan as a potential reliever in the Record.
• Collins became concerned Tuesday when a fastball from Jonathon Niese to open his outing registered only 79 mph. Still, after allowing four runs on six hits and two walks against the St. Louis Cardinals, Niese suggested his velocity was in the upper-80s by the end of his two-inning appearance. More importantly, he insisted his shoulder felt fine.
Niese remains lined up for Opening Day. Collins said he likely would use Bartolo Colon, or possibly Dillon Gee, on March 31 at Citi Field against the Washington Nationals if Niese’s final three exhibition starts reveal the southpaw is not ready for the season opener.
Read more in the Times, Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Wilmer Flores went 2-for-3 with a walk Tuesday, but it was his fielding assignment that was notable. Flores started a game at shortstop for the first time since 2011. He had a miscue on the first grounder to him, losing the handle as he transferred the ball from his glove to throwing hard. Regarding shortstop, “I definitely can play,” Flores insisted afterward. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Zach Lutz delivered a tiebreaking solo homer in the ninth against Trevor Rosenthal as the Mets beat St. Louis, 9-8, at Roger Dean Stadium. Josh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis also went deep in the victory. Read more at MLB.com.
• Tuesday's game included a ninth-inning replay challenge initiated by the Cardinals, with St. Louis trailing by a run. It would have loaded the bases with none out against Miguel Socolovich if an out call at third base had been reversed. Dissatisfied that the call on the field was upheld by replay, manager Mike Matheny wants MLB officials in New York to weigh in.
• Palm Beach County commissioners discussed the future of baseball on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida at an open meeting Tuesday. The Mets are among the handful of teams -- along with the Cards, Miami Marlins and Nationals -- that are isolated on this side of Florida, with only a few opponents within a two-hour drive. Read more in the Palm Beach Post.
On a related topic, Brian Costa in the Journal nearly watched eight different Cactus League games in Arizona in the time it took the Mets to drive from Port St. Lucie to Lakeland to face the Detroit Tigers.
• Ruben Tejada tells Dan Martin in the Post he does not pay attention to any chatter about free-agent Stephen Drew. Columnist John Harper in the Daily News writes that the Mets continue to scout Seattle’s Nick Franklin and “are continuing to monitor the Diamondbacks’ shortstop competition and ‘could jump in’ to try to make a trade for either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings before spring training ends.”
• Read updates on Murphy, Davis and Duda in the Post.
• AC Milan will play Olympiakos in a soccer match at Citi Field on July 24.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report revisits five questions heading into spring training.
BIRTHDAYS: Darryl Strawberry, who slugged a franchise-record 252 homers as a Met, turns 52. Watch out Straw: David Wright enters 2014 with 222 career homers.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Lutz’s homer against Trevor Rosenthal capped a three-homer, 14-hit game for the Mets.
Miguel Socolovich allowed two baserunners to reach in the bottom of the ninth, but survived that jam -- and a replay review of an out call at third base, which the Cards failed to get overturned -- to hold on for the save.
Josh Satin took Adam Wainwright deep in the second inning, while Kirk Nieuwenhuis delivered a three-run homer against left-hander Tim Cooney in the fifth.
In the eighth, Omar Quintanilla delivered a game-tying RBI double and Matt den Dekker drove him in with a single as the Mets took an 8-7 lead. But Gonzalez Germen surrendered a game-tying RBI double to Stephen Piscotty in the bottom half.
Quintanilla’s two-bagger plated Wilmer Flores, who reached base three times and scored twice while starting at shortstop for the first time since 2011, when he played for Class A St. Lucie.
The Mets had trailed 7-6 after Jose Valverde surrendered a two-run double to Daniel Descalso in the fifth.
After Jonathon Niese allowed four runs on six hits and two walks in two innings, Rafael Montero tossed a pair of innings as well, surrendering one run. Of the 14 batters to face Niese, eight reached.
Flores played a full game at shortstop. He could not cleanly handle a routine grounder from Jhonny Peralta in the first inning, helping cost the Mets a chance to turn a double play. Descalso reached on an infield single in the second inning to Flores, after which one scout said about Flores at shortstop: “The game is too fast for him.”
Flores did single, double and walk in four plate appearances.
What’s next: John Lannan, who appears most likely to make the team as a second left-hander in the bullpen, starts Wednesday’s Grapefruit League game against St. Louis at 1:10 p.m. at Tradition Field (SNY). Lannan opposes right-hander Carlos Martinez.
Trailing 2-0, the Mets loaded the bases with none out in the sixth against ex-Yankees left-hander Phil Coke -- on Juan Lagares’ single to center, Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ walk and Josh Satin’s trickler down the third-base line for an infield single.
But the Mets came away with only one run that inning. Andrew Brown grounded into a run-scoring double play. And Eric Campbell, who had driven in the game-tying run in the ninth inning Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals was robbed of a potential extra-base hit by diving left fielder Ezequiel Carrera, a former Mets farmhand traded away in the J.J. Putz deal on Dec. 11, 2008.
DeGrom, who is expected to be ticketed for the Triple-A rotation with Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, walked Nick Castellanos in a scoreless fourth. He allowed a one-out double to Ian Kinsler in the fifth, but Kinsler was doubled off second base on Carrera’s ensuing lineout.
“I’m happy with where I’m at right now,” deGrom said. “I’ve just got to work on commanding the ball a little better because today I didn’t really. Luckily, it didn’t cost me."
Eric Young Jr., manning second base for the first time in a 2014 Grapefruit League game, went 1-for-3 with two groundouts to the pitcher. He did have a game-opening bunt single. Terry Collins has asked EY Jr. to bunt more frequently in an attempt to utilize his speed and lift his on-base percentage (.318 with the Mets last season).
“I came into the camp wanting to put the ball on the ground more, use my speed to my advantage,” Young said. “The only way you’re going to get that done is by trying it in the game -- whether you’re successful or not.”
Clark, by the way, signed with the Mets on a minor-league contract Jan. 31. Although the Mets already had three lefty-hitting first basemen coming to camp -- Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Brandon Allen -- Clark was still a free agent as spring training approached and the Mets decided to ink him. They were enticed by the 25 homers he hit last season for Chunichi in Japan.
What’s next: Zack Wheeler Day! Wheeler opposes Atlanta Braves right-hander Kris Medlen at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Tradition Field. Carlos Torres, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Valverde, Jack Leathersich, Jeurys Familia and Ryan Reid also are scheduled to pitch. Evan Gattis, Andrelton Simmons and B.J. Upton are due to make the trip with the Braves to Port St. Lucie.
Jeff Roberson/Associated PressAnthony Seratelli turns a sixth-inning double play during the Mets' 9-1 loss to the Marlins on Saturday.
Kyle Farnsworth, trying to prove he warrants a spot as a late-inning reliever, had a rough Mets debut. Farnsworth surrendered a solo homer to Austin Barnes on a slider and sat at only 86-88 mph with his fastball, while touching 92 mph once.
Scott Rice, who may be the lone lefty reliever the Mets carry to start the season, tossed a perfect inning and struck out Derek Dietrich, the lone lefty he faced.
Fellow southpaw Josh Edgin surrendered five runs in the sixth, although two were unearned thanks to Duda's error trying to pull a grounder at first base out of his glove and an errant throw from Matt den Dekker in left field to the plate. One scout, while acknowledging it was early in spring training, wondered what happened to the life on Edgin's pitches, noting his fastball velocity used to be 95 mph with a sharp slider.
Prospect Cory Mazzoni walked consecutive batters to open the eighth, but stranded both in scoring position in a scoreless frame. Mazzoni benefited from third baseman Dustin Lawley racing into foul territory down the left-field line to corral a pop fly.
Terry Collins complimented Vic Black's ninth-inning effort, although Black surrendered two hits, a walk and an unearned run. Second baseman Danny Muno's two-out error prolonged the inning and contributed to that run -- the ninth by the Marlins on the afternoon.
Aside from Duda's homer against right-hander Arquimedes Caminero, the Mets mustered only three other hits in the game -- singles by Chris Young, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and den Dekker.
What's next: Daisuke Matsuzaka opposes right-hander Michael Wacha as the Mets travel to Jupiter to face the St. Louis Cardinals. Eric Young Jr. is on the travel list for the game after missing the opening two games with a side-muscle issue. Also listed to pitch: Jeurys Familia, Jose Valverde, Steven Matz, Carlos Torres, Joel Carreño and Jack Leathersich.
Gee was unable to locate his slider or changeup for strikes -- missing down in the zone -- but nonetheless was pleased at how good he felt. One year ago, he was returning from surgery to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder that had caused him to miss the second half of the 2012 season.
“I do feel better right now, at this point,” Gee said. “Compared to last year, I feel a lot better physically. And the ball I feel is coming out of my hand better. I just feel more in tune than I did at this point last year. I’m excited about the way I feel heading into this.”
Also in Thursday’s intrasquad game:
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis helped Gee out by throwing out Kevin Plawecki out at the plate attempting to score from second base.
• Muno, a middle infielder who played at Double-A Binghamton last season, went 2-for-3 with a homer, walk and stolen base.
• Jenrry Mejia opened his outing with two walks, but rallied by striking out Wilmer Flores and coaxing a double play from Andrew Brown. Mejia then struck out three while allowing a single to Matt Clark in his second inning of work.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka, the probable fifth starter, was hurt by a Flores throwing error on a rundown. Dice-K was charged with two runs (one earned) on one hit and one walk in two innings.
• Carlos Torres, being stretched out for a spot-starter/long-relief role, tossed two perfect innings. He struck out three.
• Noah Syndergaard struck out five and flashed a wicked curveball, but surrendered a run in his second inning of work on a curveball up in the zone that Wilfredo Tovar took to right field to plate Cory Vaughn. Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia (two scoreless innings) both sat at 96-97 mph with their fastballs. Familia also stuck out five.
• Brown homered against Joel Carreño.
• Terry Collins said he was impressed by left-hander Steven Matz, who tossed a scoreless inning with one strikeout. "Lights-out stuff," Collins said.
• Jose Valverde tossed a scoreless inning.
Nimmo, cf 4-0-1-0
Muno, 2b 3-2-2-1
Allen, 1b 4-2-2-0
Recker, dh 4-0-0-0
Campbell, 3b 4-0-1-0
Vaughn, rf 4-1-1-0
Lawley, lf 3-0-0-0
Reynolds, ph 1-0-0-0
Plawecki, c 2-0-1-0
Tovar, ss 3-0-2-1
Mejia (w) 2-1-0-0-2-4
den Dekker, cf 2-0-0-0
Sabol, rf 0-0-0-0
Nieuwenhuis, lf/cf 2-0-0-0
Flores, 2b 3-0-0-0
Brown, dh 3-1-1-1
Puello, rf/lf 3-0-0-0
Clark, 1b 3-1-2-0
Lutz, 3b 3-0-1-0
Centeno, c 2-0-0-1
Seratelli, ss 2-0-0-1
SB: den Dekker, Seratelli 2
Gee (l) 1.2-5-2-2-1-2
Jeff Roberson/Associated PressSandy Alderson reportedly told staffers the Mets can, and should, win 90 games.
FIRST PITCH: Let the games begin!
The Mets will stage a midday intrasquad game Thursday, in advance of Friday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Washington Nationals. (UPDATE: The intrasquad game may be moved to 10:15 a.m. to get ahead of predicted inclement weather.)
Dillon Gee and Jenrry Mejia are due to start opposite each other and log two innings apiece in the intrasquad game. Also scheduled to pitch Thursday: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Jose Valverde, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia and Joel Carreño.
Terry Collins said Torres will be stretched out like a spot starter/long reliever, building up starter’s innings.
David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy will not play in the intrasquad game, according to Collins.
Thursday’s news reports:
• Sandy Alderson told staffers in an internal meeting that the Mets can win 90 games in 2014, columnist John Harper reports in the Daily News. Writes Harper:
And, according to people who were in the room, after Alderson’s decree prompted discussion about how to best maximize the Mets’ assets, owner Fred Wilpon chimed in at one point with his own pointed assessment.
“We better win 90,” he said, according to a source.
What, Matt Harvey’s elbow surgery was just a cruel practical joke of some kind, and he’s secretly preparing for Opening Day?
Otherwise the idea sounds preposterous, right? A Las Vegas sports book, Bovada, on Wednesday released its over/under proposition bets, and it put the number for the Mets at 73.5.
Bartolo Colon (calf) and Eric Young Jr. (side) also have injuries, while Matt den Dekker is briefly limited with a stomach ailment.
The Mets have planned for Niese to start on Opening Day, followed by Colon and Dillon Gee against the Nats in Game Nos. 2 and 3 of the regular season, but that is subject to those pitchers’ health.
Read columnist Kevin Kernan’s take on Niese’s injury in the Post. Read news stories in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Ruben Tejada is the shortstop “at this moment,” Collins said, but Wilmer Flores will get legitimate consideration and Seattle’s Nick Franklin is on the Mets’ radar. Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, meanwhile, says it is quiet on the trade front for his extra shortstop, whether that’s Chris Owings or Didi Gregorius.
As for any criticism about his fitness or otherwise, Tejada told Marc Carig in Newsday: “I don’t really pay attention, you know? Because I did my best in the offseason so I could come here with really good positive energy. Mentally, I’m good, so I’m not listening to anybody about that.”
Read more on Tejada in the Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.
• Anthony DiComo at MLB.com profiles Syndergaard, who did not physically mature and get on scouts’ radar until his senior year of high school. He ultimately was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 38th overall pick in 2010.
“This wasn't a guy who was famous before the spring of his senior year,” Paul DePodesta told DiComo. “He sort of emerged on the scene. He didn’t go into the year with a whole lot of hype, and that’s probably one of the reasons why he lasted to where he did in the draft.”
Said David Walden, Syndergaard’s high school coach: “There were a bunch of scouts down here who got in a lot of trouble.”
• Bovada sets the over/under for Mets wins at 73.5. Read more in the Post.
• Sharknado 2 stars are filming at Citi Field. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal reviews the honeymoons of the five Mets who got married during the offseason -- Anthony Recker (French Polynesia), Josh Satin (Thailand), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (Hawaii), Zach Lutz (none), Wright (none).
Wright tells Diamond: “I’m very routine-based. I’ve done the same routine for 15 years of playing baseball now, so I like to stick to that routine. I'm sure we will do something in the future, but there’s nothing really planned yet. For me, getting married over the holidays, my routine starts come Jan. 1, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall behind that.”
As for the eventual honeymoon spot, Wright adds: “We travel so much during the season that the last thing I want to do during the winter is hop on a plane for a long time. There are a lot of places I’d like to go, though. I’ve never been to Europe. She did such a good job planning the wedding, she can pick where she wants to go.”
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests the Mets are not comfortable with Tejada at shortstop, no matter what they say publicly.
BIRTHDAYS: Jersey native Anthony Seratelli, in camp with the Mets, turns 31. … Former Mets (and longtime Braves) pitcher Pete Smith was born on this date in 1966.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Had a great birthday dinner tonight w/ the guys. Thanks @You_Found_Nimmo for pickin up my tab! Also thanks for all the bday shoutouts today!— Kevin Plawecki (@kplawecki26) February 27, 2014
Getty Images/USA TODAY SportsKirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt den Dekker and Andrew Brown may comprise Las Vegas' outfield to start the season.
Den Dekker needs to play every day, according to the manager. Den Dekker hit .207 with one homer and six RBIs in 58 major-league at-bats last season. His season started on the disabled list after he broke his right wrist attempting another highlight-reel catch last spring training.
The outfield is congested anyway, with Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Eric Young Jr. locked in and conceivably Juan Lagares and Lucas Duda also on the Opening Day roster.
"One of the things we're very lucky with, when you come into camp and you have the likes of the outfield we have right now, they're so athletic. They can all run," Collins said. "Matt is in that [group]. He is still very, very highly thought of -- a tremendous defender, as we know. One of the things you've seen in his career, he gets to a level and he may have a rough time in the beginning. And the next time he goes to that same level he advances. And we're hoping the same thing occurs now, that he now knows what's expected at the major-league level, what kind of pitching he's going to see, what adjustments he has to make.
"I think Matt den Dekker is still a huge prospect here. It gives us an ample amount of insurance."
John Minchillo/Associated PressSandy Alderson wants to be general manager of the Mets for two or three more years, according to the Post.
FIRST PITCH: With position players due to report Thursday and the first full-squad workout scheduled for Saturday, the Mets have all but two of their players already in camp -- Omar Quintanilla and Wilfredo Tovar.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• Sandy Alderson wants to remain Mets GM for two or three more years, but “definitely not five,” Mike Puma reports in the Post, quoting a source. Alderson is in the fourth year of his original four-year deal, which also includes a team option.
• Alderson confirmed to columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News that the Mets’ offer to closer Grant Balfour exceeded the two-year, $12 million deal he accepted from the Tampa Bay Rays. Alderson told Madden he did not make a similar offer to Fernando Rodney (who ultimately signed for two years, $14 million with the Seattle Mariners) because Rodney’s camp indicated it wanted $10 million-plus a season.
• The Pittsburgh Pirates will continue to monitor Ike Davis for a potential trade, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports.
Meanwhile, will getting Davis double the typical number of spring-training at-bats help guard against another slow start to the season? Collins said it worked for Tim Salmon while Collins managed the Angels in the late 1990s. Still, Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger notes that the Phillies’ Domonic Brown led the majors last spring training with 90 at-bats and then hit only .233 in April.
• A Mets official severely downplayed a report the club is having dialogue with free-agent Nelson Cruz.
• The Mets signed right-hander Buddy Carlyle to a minor-league contract. Carlyle, 36, did not receive an invitation to big-league camp. Lefty Dana Eveland also received a minor-league contract with no invite.
• How excited can you really get about prospects, especially if you’re familiar with the bust that was Generation K? Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post:
There’s only one proven method for the optimists to prevail, and that’s with sheer numbers. These Mets hope they’re building such a model for success.
“We know the history. Some guys don’t make it. That’s just what happens,” Paul DePodesta, the Mets’ vice president of player development and amateur scouting, said Monday. “They get hurt. They have a disappointing performance. They don’t continue to develop at the same rate they had previously.
“But I think we’ve gotten to the point now, in terms of volume, where some of them are going to make it. Not every one of them will, but a good number of them should, based on what we have at this point.”
• Terry Collins does not foresee Wilmer Flores on the big-league roster if Flores is not a starter. Flores, meanwhile, is confident he can play shortstop on the limited occasions he gets exposure there during spring training. Read more in the Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.
• Collins affirmed right-handed prospect Cory Mazzoni will get consideration for the Opening Day roster as a reliever, despite serving as a starter in the minors. Mazzoni actually breaking camp with the Mets would appear an uphill battle, though, unless there are injuries or Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth are busts. Further complicating it: Mazzoni is not yet on the 40-man roster. John Rowe in the Record looks at the Mets’ late-inning relief.
• How can Eric Young Jr. increase his on-base percentage? By bunting more, Collins believes.
Regarding Young’s capability to increase his OBP, Alderson tells Marc Carig in Newsday: “The question is whether he has the potential to improve on that if it becomes a priority. On-base percentage is often a function of approach as opposed to mechanics. If we were asking him to hit 30 home runs, that’s not going to work. But guys can adjust.” Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Juan Lagares will start in center field in the Grapefruit League opener on Feb. 28, but will he be in the outfield on Opening Day at Citi Field? With Curtis Granderson and Chris Young now on board, that seems to depend upon whether EY Jr. is a starter. “I think I did good last year, but I know I can do a little better,” Lagares told the Post. Read more in the Daily News.
• Hitting coach Dave Hudgens believes Travis d’Arnaud will have more success at the plate now that he is not trying to hit every pitch for a homer.
• Mets pitchers in 2013 had their most strikeouts and fewest sacrifices in the team’s past five seasons, writes Marty Noble at MLB.com. Bartolo Colon, who has not played in the National League since 2002 with the Montreal Expos, has blisters from practicing hitting so much this offseason in the Dominican Republic, according to the report.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis is not forgotten, Collins told the outfielder Tuesday.
• Zack Wheeler does not mind getting less attention this spring training with Noah Syndergaard generating the buzz.
• Mets pitchers are not keen on wearing the new protective hats, although several pledged to try it once a shipment arrives.
• With three Mets players’ surnames beginning with lower-case “D’s -- d’Arnaud, Matt den Dekker and Jacob deGrom -- team equipment manager Kevin Kierst worked with Majestic to design lower-case uniform letters, writes Jared Diamond in the Journal.
• Unemployed reliever Tim Byrdak had a little fun tweeting a job-wanted advertisement. Read more in the Daily News.
• Free-agent Johan Santana continues discussions with the Minnesota Twins, but no deal is imminent, Venezuelan journalist Efrain Ruiz tweeted.
• The Houston Astros may relocate their spring-training complex to the area, but there are no active discussions with the Mets about sharing the Port St. Lucie complex, according to a source. The Astros, who originally tried to pair with the Toronto Blue Jays to build a complex, now may partner with the Washington Nationals somewhere in Palm Beach County, the Houston Chronicle reports.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing is pleased WOR and the Mets have found 710 ways to please their listeners. … Mets Police asks if you would trade Syndergaard and d’Arnaud for R.A. Dickey. … John Delcos at Mets Report concludes the organization has future payroll flexibility. … NY Mets Life looks at the lost art of the complete game.
BIRTHDAYS: Poet and former Mets pitcher Miguel Batista turns 43. … Alvaro Espinoza is 52. … Tim Burke turns 55.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you want Sandy Alderson to remain GM a few more years?
Offers have been slow so I thought I'd practice for 2018. I should have followed IKEAs directions on the sled ! pic.twitter.com/7o1LwkLdaf— Tim Byrdak (@Givemethelefty) February 18, 2014
Nieuwenhuis, 26, hit .189 with three homers and 14 RBIs and struck out 32 times in 95 at-bats with the Mets last season. He was passed over for a September call-up.
Said Collins about Tuesday's conversation with Nieuwenhuis: "I said, 'Listen, there's a lot of talk about Curtis. And there's a lot of talk about Chris and Lagares.' I said, 'Two years ago the talk was about you, and you fought some injuries -- some bad injuries.' You know, he hurt his shoulder very bad. Then he had the foot issue. I said, 'Listen, you can still play. There's a job here for Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but you've got to go and show us you're the player that we all know you can be.'"
FIRST PITCH: Mets players continue to pour into Port St. Lucie well ahead of the official report dates -- Saturday for pitchers and catchers and Feb. 20 for position players.
Among players on the 40-man roster, at least 18 participated in a voluntary workout Monday at the complex: Vic Black, Jacob deGrom, Josh Edgin, Dillon Gee, Erik Goeddel, Steven Matz, Jenrry Mejia, Jonathon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Jeff Walters, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Anthony Recker, Ike Davis, Josh Satin, Andrew Brown, Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
David Wright also is in town, although he wasn’t spotted Monday.
The Mets annually have large turnouts for these voluntary workouts, but Terry Collins seems to set the tone by arriving in December.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• Parnell normally would get on a mound now, but will wait an extra two weeks as he returns from Sept. 10 surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Parnell nonetheless says his neck is “feeling great.” Read more in the Daily News.
• Mejia, whose 2013 season ended with surgery to remove a bone spur, wants to claim the fifth spot in the rotation. His primary competition is Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan. DeGrom, a shortstop in college at Stetson, is another candidate for that final rotation spot. Read more in the Post and Daily News.
• Anthony DiComo at MLB.com projects Mejia as the fifth starter and Kyle Farnsworth as the primary setup man in his spring-training preview.
• D’Arnaud’s ability to get strike calls from umpires as a catcher proved a major upgrade over John Buck late in the 2013 season.
• Wheeler continues to maintain he wants the Opening Day start, on March 31 against the Washington Nationals. Collins has mentioned Niese as the most likely. Regardless, it mostly is a ceremonial role that means you draw opponents’ top starters in April, beginning likely with Stephen Strasburg.
• Lefty relief prospect Jack Leathersich is more focused on his walks than his gaudy minor-league strikeout totals.
• Utility player Emilio Bonifacio has been placed on release waivers by the Kansas City Royals. The team that claims him (with the pecking order last year’s record, from worst to first) would inherit his $3.55 million salary. Otherwise, if Bonifacio were to clear waivers, he would be a free agent. If he becomes a free agent, the Royals would only have to pay a fraction of the negotiated salary, since settlements with arbitration-eligible players are not automatically fully guaranteed.
• The Long Island native Matz, a left-handed pitching prospect, is finally on track after a two-year recovery from Tommy John surgery.
• From the bloggers … Mets Police suggests a foolproof marketing plan for the Mets -- winning games. … John Delcos at Mets Report already is looking at which pieces the Mets can sell this summer.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets farmhand Matt Lindstrom turns 34. The reliever had a $4 million option picked up by the Chicago White Sox for the upcoming season.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Here are some recent tweets:
Off to Los Gatos for the wedding weekend! Excited to finally be Mr and Mrs w/ @KellyShepardson I guess she's gonna have to change her handle— Anthony Recker (@Anthony_Recker) October 31, 2013
Excited to go see my boys @JoshSatin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis get married next week.— Ike Davis (@Iked29) October 29, 2013
• LaTroy Hawkins, right-handed reliever. Hawkins appears the most likely to be re-signed, even though he will be 41 years old next season. He was productive stepping into the closer’s role after Bobby Parnell's injury, while dialing his fastball up to 95 mph.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang, right-handed starters. Terry Collins liked Dice-K, so perhaps it is not out of the realm of possibility to re-sign him as a fifth-starter competitor who would allow Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom to open the season in the minors. For that matter, Harang fits that profile, too.
• Tim Byrdak and Pedro Feliciano, left-handed relievers. Both returned from shoulder injuries after missing substantial time. It likely is time for the Mets to move on from both, but their careers do not appear over yet.
• David Aardsma, right-handed reliever. Productive, although he wilted with too much use. Aardsma could be useful to re-sign if the price is right.
• Frank Francisco, right-handed reliever. The ex-closer collected $6.5 million this season while mostly nursing a sore elbow and irking Mets officials. No chance he returns.
• Johan Santana, left-handed starter. The one-time ace wants to pitch again after undergoing a second surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. If he is capable, he very likely would sign elsewhere. The best news: Santana's $31 million owed in 2013, including a buyout of next season, comes off the books.
Signed to contracts
• Jonathon Niese, left-handed starter. After missing nearly two months with a rotator cuff strain, Niese finished strongly and should help anchor the 2014 rotation. His salary jumps to $5 million next season, up from $3 million this year.
• David Wright, third baseman. The captain sees a major salary bump. Wright will earn $20 million in 2014 -- a raise of $9 million.
• Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, first basemen. It is likely one gets traded, although there is a slim chance Duda opens the season at Triple-A with Davis at Citi Field. Davis made $3.125 million this year and could receive an ever-so-slight pay cut. The Mets insist he will not be non-tendered. Duda, first-time eligible for arbitration, likely only makes $700,000 or $800,000 in 2014.
• Parnell, closer. Doctors assure Collins that Parnell will be fine for spring training after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, but the manager is concerned. Vic Black would be the alternative. Parnell’s salary should creep upward after he earned $1.7 million while converting 22 of 26 save chances.
• Dillon Gee, right-handed starter. Gee missed 200 innings by one frame. He will be first-time eligible for arbitration.
• Daniel Murphy, second baseman. ESPNNewYork.com hears the Mets will listen on offers for Murphy, but the best bet is he is the Opening Day second baseman. Murphy is due to get another raise after earning $2.925 million this season.
• Ruben Tejada, shortstop. After the broken leg mends, Tejada needs to seriously demonstrate his work ethic to the organization. Still, that may not be enough if the Mets can find the right external shortstop addition.
• Justin Turner, infielder. The best bet is that he serves as a backup infielder again next season.
• Eric Young Jr., outfielder/second baseman. The Mets recognize they need his speed in the lineup. So Young should be in the starting lineup somewhere next season, whether that’s in the outfield or at second base.
• Scott Atchison, right-handed reliever. Believe it or not, while Atchison is 37 years old, he does not have enough MLB service time to be eligible for free agency. He is a definite non-tender candidate in December.
• Mike Baxter, outfielder. Baxter should be arbitration eligible as a Super 2. Regardless, his 40-man roster spot appears in jeopardy. That does not preclude Baxter from being re-signed to a minor league deal. The 2013 Baxter, who hit .189, did not resemble the 2012 Baxter. The Mets believe the shoulder injury suffered in Santana's no-hitter may have hurt Baxter's swing.
• Omar Quintanilla, shortstop. The Mets view Q as a backup, not a full-time player.
• Matt Harvey, right-handed starter. The question remains: Tommy John surgery or no Tommy John surgery? Harvey should be airing it out in about six weeks, perhaps in the Arizona Fall League, to see whether the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow will hold up.
• Zack Wheeler, right-handed starter. Wheeler should be good for 200 innings in 2014.
• Black, right-handed reliever. If Parnell is not ready to close because of a slow recovery from surgery, the hard-throwing Black is the primary alternative. Otherwise, Black projects as handling the eighth inning next season.
• Travis d’Arnaud, catcher. He’s the guy behind the plate, but needs to shorten his swing after hitting .202 in his first major league season.
• Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker, center fielders. Lagares had a franchise-rookie-record 15 outfield assists and is very likely the full-time center fielder in 2014, even with some offensive difficulties. Den Dekker is just as likely to open next season in Triple-A. The Mets do not plan to platoon Lagares and den Dekker in the majors -- not in April, anyway.
• Josh Edgin and Scott Rice, left-handed relievers. Both are coming off surgeries. The Mets need to find a lefty from outside the organization they can trust, but Rice and Edgin could be useful complements.
• Jeurys Familia and Gonzalez Germen, right-handed relievers. Both should vie for a bullpen role in 2014.
• Jeremy Hefner, right-handed starter. Hefner will miss most, if not all, of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
• Anthony Recker, catcher. After a nearly full season in the majors, Recker could find himself in Triple-A in 2014. Sandy Alderson has suggested he needs to find a veteran catcher in case d’Arnaud’s injury propensity continues.
• Josh Satin, infielder. A year after being taken off the 40-man roster and clearing waivers, Satin is now viewed as a valuable righty bat for the bench who can get on base. Look for him to have a backup role in 2014.
• Carlos Torres, right-handed starter/reliever. Torres would appear to have a legitimate shot as the long reliever/spot starter.
• Jordany Valdespin, infielder. The Biogenesis suspension is his latest baggage. It would be surprising if he makes it to spring training as a Met.
• Greg Burke, Robert Carson and Sean Henn, relievers. If they survive the winter on the 40-man roster, they look Triple-A bound.
• Andrew Brown, Juan Centeno, Wilmer Flores, Zach Lutz and Wilfredo Tovar, 51s. Centeno and Recker could be the Triple-A catchers. Flores likely is ticketed for Las Vegas, according to Collins, if the infielder is not going to be a starter at the major league level. Lutz and Tovar probably open next season in the minors, too. Brown’s 40-man roster spot is an open question.
• Jenrry Mejia, right-handed starter. Mejia showed flashes as a starting pitcher before surgery to clean out his right elbow. He is a logical fifth-starter competitor in spring training.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis, outfielder. Getting snubbed for a September call-up does not bode well for Nieuwenhuis’ future with the organization.
Final Milwaukee 94 New York 115 Final Brooklyn 94 Washington 101
Final Buffalo 1 NY Islanders 4 Final New Jersey 0 Tampa Bay 3
Final R H E Yankees 1 6 0 Orioles 2 5 0 Final R H E Marlins 5 7 0 Yankees 0 0 1 Final R H E Twins 3 9 1 Mets 3 9 0 Final R H E Mets 9 11 0 Cubs 4 7 1
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