New York Mets: Matt Kemp

Morning Briefing: A day to mend

August, 25, 2014
Aug 25

FIRST PITCH: After salvaging their series finale at Dodger Stadium to go 2-3 on a trip to Oakland and Los Angeles, the Mets have a day of rest Monday. It looks like they need it.

David Wright departed Sunday’s game in the third inning with muscle spasms on the right side of his neck, which apparently began bothering him earlier in the weekend. Daniel Murphy then departed in the ninth inning with right-calf soreness.

Wright is in the midst of a career-high 143 at-bat homerless drought. His previous career high came earlier this season (136 at-bats).

The Mets resume play Tuesday at Citi Field against the Braves. Dillon Gee (4-6, 3.84 ERA) opposes left-hander Alex Wood (9-9, 3.05) in the 7:10 p.m. series opener.

Monday’s news reports:

Lucas Duda produced a pair of home runs and a career-high five RBIs as the Mets beat the Dodgers, 11-3, on Sunday. Duda now has five homers in his past six games, making him a strong candidate for NL Player of the Week. His 26 homers for the season rank him third in the National League, trailing only Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton (32) and Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo (29).

In the sixth inning, the Mets turned their first triple play since May 19, 2010 in Washington. With Yasiel Puig on second base and Adrian Gonzalez on first base and no one out, Matt Kemp hit into what appeared poised to be a double play. However, Puig decided to ignore a stop sign from his third base coach and head home. He was comfortably beaten by Duda’s throw on what became a 5-4-3-2 triple play. It was the 11th triple play turned in Mets history.

Ruben Tejada, starting at shortstop over Wilmer Flores, contributed a two-run homer to snap his long-ball drought at 163 at-bats.

Making his first start since returning from bereavement leave, Bartolo Colon (12-10) limited the Dodgers to two runs on five hits and one walk in six innings. Colon now plans to return to the Dominican Republic to be present for his mother’s funeral Thursday. He will rejoin the Mets in time for his scheduled start Saturday against the Phillies in Queens.

That is, Colon will face Philadelphia provided he is not traded first. He reportedly was placed on revocable waivers over the weekend.

If Sunday's game happened to be Colon’s last start -- and it probably was not -- his last pitch as a Met coaxed the triple play. ESPN’s Mark Simon notes that would be reminiscent of Joe Pignatano, who hit into a triple play in his last career at-bat, back in 1962 with the Mets.

The Angels and Dodgers make sense for Colon as in-season landing spots, one MLB executive suggested. Tigers VP Scott Reid also watched Colon pitch Sunday, but he was at Dodger Stadium all week and an insider does not believe Detroit would be interested in Colon because of the salary attached.

Meanwhile, the Mets snapped a six-game Dodger Stadium losing streak. It was their longest skid at the stadium since also losing six straight in 1980 and ’81.

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

• Read more on Wright in the Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.

• Read more on Duda in Newsday.

• Long Island native Steven Matz tossed five scoreless innings as Binghamton beat Akron, 5-2. Kevin McGowan took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and St. Lucie held on for a 3-2 win against Jupiter. Persio Reyes tossed seven scoreless innings in Kingsport’s 9-1 win against Johnson City. Michael Conforto drove in three runs for Brooklyn in a 10-1 win against Tri-City. Read the full minor-league recap here.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear explores the concept of fun where the Mets are concerned. ... Blogging Mets suspects the Mets are gearing up to trade Noah Syndergaard.

BIRTHDAYS: Pedro Feliciano turns 38. ... Choo-Choo Coleman was born on this date in 1937. ... Gary Matthews Jr. is 40. ... Neal Musser is 34.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: How many home runs will Lucas Duda finish with this season?

Series preview: Mets at Dodgers

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Dan Haren, Zack Greinke and Kevin Correia this weekend at Dodger Stadium.
METS (60-68, fourth place/NL East) vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (71-57*, first place/NL West)

Friday: LHP Jonathon Niese (7-8, 3.50) vs. RHP Dan Haren (10-10, 4.59), 10:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jacob deGrom (6-5, 2.87) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (12-8, 2.75), 9:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Bartolo Colon (11-10, 3.85) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (2-0, 4.09), 4:10 p.m. ET

* L.A. plays Thursday vs. Padres

Dodgers short hops

Zack Greinke, originally scheduled to start Thursday against the San Diego Padres, instead faces the Mets on Saturday with two extra days of rest. Greinke’s elbow has been cranky. He does not expect to be 100 percent for the remainder of the season. If Greinke gets through the season without the issue worsening and Hyun-Jin Ryu (right hip strain) returns from the DL without ill effects, L.A. is well-positioned for the postseason with a rotation that also includes Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw originally was due to face the Mets on Friday, but moved up a day in place of Greinke.

• Left fielder Carl Crawford is hitting .485 (16-for-33) with one homer and six RBIs in 10 games (eight starts) since Aug. 10. Crawford’s surge has buried Andre Ethier on the bench. Ethier has started four games since July 22.

Richard MacksonYasiel Puig moved to center field in late July.

Yasiel Puig shifted from right field to center field in late July. Matt Kemp began the season in center field, but the Dodgers were underwhelmed by his defense. Ethier and Scott Van Slyke subsequently lacked range there.

• Ex-Met Justin Turner (.309, 3 HR, 27 RBIs) has started four straight games at third base with Juan Uribe sidelined after reinjuring his right hamstring. Turner is hitting .341 (15-for-44) with four RBIs in 16 games (11 starts) in August. For the season, Turner has a 2.7 WAR. Only Puig’s 4.1 WAR is better among Dodgers position players.

• Free-agent-to-be Hanley Ramirez landed on the disabled list Aug. 9 with a right oblique strain. Miguel Rojas originally filled in for Ramirez at shortstop, but is 2-for-his-last-17. Cuban-born rookie Erisbel Arruebarrena, who is projected to succeed Ramirez next season, has started the past two games at shortstop.

Arruebarrena recently served a five-game suspension while with Triple-A Albuquerque for inciting a massive bench-clearing brawl against Reno, the top affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had a slow trot around the bases after a homer, then jawed with Reno’s catcher the following day.

Arruebarrena signed with the Dodgers in February for five years, $25 million.

• Leadoff hitter/second baseman Dee Gordon is hitless in his last 12 at-bats. He nonetheless has an NL-leading 57 steals, 11 ahead of runner-up Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds. The steal total ranks seventh for a single season in Dodgers history, trailing Maury Wills (104 in 1962 and 94 in 1965), Davey Lopes (77 in 1975, 63 in 1976 and 59 in 1974) and Juan Pierre (64 in 2007).

• First baseman Adrian Gonzalez's 83 RBIs rank second in the NL, trailing only Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton (89).

• The Dodgers lead the San Francisco Giants (66-58) by three games for the NL West lead.

Morning Briefing: Deadline day!

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
FIRST PITCH: It’s a day of rest for the Mets, aside from early wakeup calls for those participating in third-base coach Tim Teufel’s charity golf tournament in Greenwich, Conn.

So the focus turns to GM Sandy Alderson. The non-waiver trade deadline is 4 p.m. Thursday.

Mets insiders have suggested the very likely scenario is the team stands pat, but stay tuned.

The Mets return to Citi Field on Friday to open a four-game series against the San Francisco Giants. Jonathon Niese (5-6, 3.23 ERA) opposes right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (5-8, 4.45) in the opener.

Thursday’s news reports:

Zack Wheeler limited Philadelphia to two runs in 6 2/3 innings and Daniel Murphy launched a tiebreaking three-run homer en route to an 11-2 victory against the reeling Phillies on Wednesday at Citi Field. Lucas Duda produced three RBIs and has now driven in a run in a career-best six straight games.

Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsThe Mets celebrate after Wednesday's 11-2 win against the Phillies.

Murphy’s opposite-field shot against Kyle Kendrick in the fifth made it 5-1. “I hit the ball that way,” Murphy quipped about the frequency he goes to left field. “It just doesn’t ever go that far.”

On Duda, David Wright said: “It’s just amazing the transformation in such a short time period where he’s become one of the more dangerous hitters in the National League. It’s been fun to watch, because every time he picks up the bat you think he’s going to hit the ball hard. And most of the time he does.”

Terry Collins complimented Wheeler, who has a 1.63 ERA over his past six starts. “You saw a guy battle really without his best command,” the manager said.

Even Jeurys Familia had an RBI single.

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

Matt Harvey told he expects to get on a mound next week for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22, 2013.

Harvey told Mike Puma in the Post he still would like to make a cameo in the majors before the season ends, even though it is clear that’s highly unlikely. “Even if it was one inning out of the bullpen, I would be happy,” Harvey said.

The expectation is Harvey will pitch in the fall instructional league in Port St. Lucie, Fla., which spans late September and early October. He told Puma a brief appearance in the Arizona Fall League is likely, too.

Marc Carig in Newsday reports the initial Harvey mound session actually could occur as soon as Friday.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post advocates the Mets acquiring outfielder Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Writes Kernan:

Matt Kemp would be moved by the Dodgers if the price were right, and, yes, the price is always an issue with the Mets. Kemp is owed $107 million over the next five years. Kemp would be a great fit for the Yankees, too, if they wanted to go there.

• Jon Heyman at notes any Mets pursuit of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez would have to wait until the winter. Heyman portrays CarGo as more realistic for the Mets. Writes Heyman:

Ultimately, the Mets don't see themselves as likely to land Tulowitzki -- "he wants to be a Yankee" one Mets person said, stating what has becoming obvious -- so Gonzalez will presumably be the main focus of talks once they hook up.

• A Mets insider told there was one scenario, although it seemed unlikely to materialize, in which the Mets could acquire an “intriguing” outfielder before 4 p.m. It’s not clear who that is, though.

Nick Piecoro in The Arizona Republic reports there’s buzz the Diamondbacks’ Gerardo Parra is available. Parra, earning $4.85 million this season, has one more year of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent following the 2015 season.

• Mets chief operating Jeff Wilpon served on a three-member arbitration panel trying to determine how much the Washington Nationals should be paid for their TV rights by the regional sports network MASN. The principal owner of that network is the Baltimore Orioles.

As a concession for entering O’s territory when the Nats relocated from Montreal for the 2005 season, the Nats agreed to discounted rights fees through 2011. Since then, however, there has been a squabble about how much the Nats should receive from MASN.

Despite a reported favorable ruling for the Nats by the arbitration panel that included Wilpon, the issue apparently still could be headed to court, irking commissioner Bud Selig. Read the full story in The Hollywood Reporter.

• Michael Fulmer tossed six scoreless innings and St. Lucie beat Dunedin, 4-3. Wuilmer Becerra had a two-run triple as Kingsport beat Danville, 8-3. 2014 first-round pick Michael Conforto went 3-for-3 with two RBIs in Brooklyn’s 9-4 win against Auburn. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Read more on Wheeler in the Post and Newsday.

• Read more on Duda in the Record and Daily News.

• Read more on Familia in the Star-Ledger.

• The Giants recently signed Dan Uggla after he was released by the Atlanta Braves. There are conflicting reports about Uggla’s status, but it appears he will not be a Giant when the club arrives at Citi Field on Friday. Uggla is 0-for-11 with a walk and has committed three errors since joining San Francisco. Writes Henry Schulman in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Dan Uggla is still a Giant, but probably won’t be when the team gets to New York. I got indications earlier today that Uggla was going to be cut loose. reported that he and (incorrectly, [Tyler] Colvin) were released, but Giants officials say there was no roster move with Uggla.

In any event, it seems Uggla’s tenure with the Giants might conclude with three errors, no hits and a few more days of service time applied to his big-league pension.

One spot likely will go to Brandon Belt, who is expected to be activated in New York. Another could foretell a trade, but none was imminent when I left the ballpark around 6 p.m.

• Read a review of Sharknado 2 in Rolling Stone. One line from Wednesday's premiere pleased Mets fans: "You don't mess with a Mets fan on the 7 train." (See clip on Vine here.)

From the bloggers …NY Mets Life gives Alderson some pointers on what the Mets should do at the deadline.

BIRTHDAYS: Billy Wynne, who made his major league debut with the Mets in 1967 and was traded the following offseason in a deal that returned Tommie Agee, was born on this date in 1943.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Who should be the ideal (but realistic) acquisition target for the Mets before the trade deadline?

Morning Briefing: End of the road

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8

FIRST PITCH: Former San Francisco Giants farmhand Zack Wheeler is charged on Sunday with trying to halt the Mets’ losing streak at five games and help the Amazin’s avoid getting swept.

Wheeler (2-5, 3.89 ERA) has contributed two straight solid efforts on the road trip. He has combined to limit the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs to one run on six hits and two walks while striking out 16 in 13 innings.

Wheeler opposes right-hander Tim Lincecum (4-4, 5.01) at 4:05 p.m. ET.

The Mets have not been swept by the Giants since 2002, when San Francisco ran the table in three-game series at Shea Stadium and what was then known as Pac Bell Park.

Gregory Bull/Associated PressTravis d'Arnaud was demoted to the minors late Saturday.

The Mets (28-34) complete a stretch of 20 games in 20 days with the series finale at AT&T Park. They also wrap up a three-city trip in which they went 4-1 in Philly, then got swept at Wrigley Field.

Sunday’s news reports:

Travis d’Arnaud, expected to be a cornerstone of the Mets’ rebuilding, again is a minor leaguer. Three-for-26 since returning from the disabled list for a concussion and hitting .180 for the season, d’Arnaud was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas after Saturday’s game. Ex-Oriole/Ranger Taylor Teagarden will join the Mets on Sunday. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at

• Terry Collins and David Wright spoke to the players during a pregame team meeting Saturday about staying positive, but the Mets went on to lose to the Giants, 5-4, in walk-off fashion. Jenrry Mejia suffered his first blown save. Wright committed a critical sixth-inning throwing error that led to two unearned runs.

The Mets have now lost 20 games this season in which they held a lead -- the most in the majors.

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

• Wright will be out of the starting lineup Sunday for the first time this season. With the Mets on a five-game losing streak, he asked Collins to play, but was rebuffed by the manager. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Courtesy of the University of MemphisThe Mets selected University of Memphis right-hander Bryce Beeler in the 19th round of the draft.

• Paul DePodesta and amateur scouting director Tommy Tanous completed the draft with rounds 11 through 40 on Saturday. The Mets selected two right-handed pitchers with New York ties: Stonehill (Mass.) College’s Jim Duff is from Garden City, Long Island. Tyler Badamo is a product of Oakdale’s Dowling College and from Mount Sinai.

Connecticut prep right-hander Bradley Wilpon, the son of Jeff Wilpon and grandson of Fred Wilpon, was selected in the 36th round by the Boston Red Sox. He will not sign and instead is headed to the Wharton School of Business and to play for the Penn baseball team.

Read features on Badamo at and Baseball on the Island. Read more the Mets’ draft in the Record.

• Tim Rohan in the Times reviews the Mets’ ill-fated trade of Angel Pagan to the Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post discusses the state of the Mets.

Matt den Dekker is hitting .192 this season, and Collins suggested Ruben Tejada may get time in the leadoff spot.

Juan Lagares, on the disabled list with a strained intercostal muscle on his right side, is not free of discomfort and therefore is not yet permitted to do work that requires rotating his torso.

• X-rays of 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo’s right wrist revealed no fracture. Nimmo, who nonetheless was out of the lineup Saturday with St. Lucie, was hit by a pitch the previous day.

• John Gant, Tim Peterson and Robert Coles combined on the shutout as Savannah blanked Charleston, 4-0. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post identifies five quality batters who should be available at the trading deadline: Chase Utley, Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez, Alexei Ramirez and Ben Zobrist.

• Lenny Dykstra speaks with Mark Bowman at about his son Luke being drafted in the seventh round by the Atlanta Braves.

• Read more on 50 Cent’s woeful ceremonial first pitch in the Post.

• Matt Ehalt in the Record reviews Jacob deGrom’s brief and so far successful major league career.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear imagines Branden and Alexa going rogue.

BIRTHDAYS: Toronto Blue Jays manager and ex-Met John Gibbons turns 52. ... Dave Mlicki is 46.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Did the Mets make the right call demoting Travis d’Arnaud?

Rapid Reaction: Mets 5, Dodgers 3

May, 22, 2014
May 22
NEW YORK -- Zack Greinke had a lengthy streak snapped. Ex-Met Justin Turner got some revenge. Jenrry Mejia cleared a hurdle toward closing full time. And, in the game's decisive at-bat, Juan Lagares continued to establish he belongs in the starting lineup.

Lagares delivered a two-out, go-ahead RBI single in the seventh against Chris Perez and the Mets ultimately avoided getting swept with a 5-3 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday at Citi Field.

The Mets won for only the sixth time in 20 games in May.

Back-to-back: For the first time in four years, Mejia pitched on consecutive days. In a major step toward becoming the full-time closer, Mejia logged a scoreless ninth inning for his second save since moving to the bullpen. The work came a day after Mejia tossed eight pitches in a 1-2-3 ninth on Wednesday. Mejia last pitched on consecutive days at any level June 5-6, 2010, during his first tour of bullpen duty with the Mets.

Retribution: Turner’s ho-hum return to Citi Field ended with a bang. Turner blasted a two-run homer against Jonathon Niese (7 IP, 4 H, 3 ER) in the seventh to even the score at 3. It was Turner’s first long ball since last Sept. 8 at Cleveland, during a series in which he produced his only two homers of 2013. Turner was a surprise non-tender by the Mets on Dec. 2.

Ron Antonelli/Getty ImagesThe Mets ended Zack Greinke's streak allowing two runs or fewer at 21 starts, although two of their three runs against him were unearned.

Halted: Greinke’s major-league record streak of 21 straight starts allowing two runs or fewer came to an end. His fielders, including an ex-Met, helped torpedo it.

Greinke was poised to escape the fifth inning trailing 2-1 when he coaxed a two-out grounder to the left side of the infield from Daniel Murphy. However, after ranging to his left, Turner -- starting at third base with Juan Uribe having landed on the DL -- muffed fielding the ball, allowing Niese to score the Mets’ third run.

Niese earlier in the inning became the lone Mets pitcher other than Jacob deGrom to produce a hit this season. He delivered an RBI double that plated Anthony Recker for the lone earned run surrendered by Greinke. (Mets pitchers are now 3-for-76 on the season.)

The Mets had produced an unearned run in the second inning after Matt Kemp was slow getting to Curtis Granderson’s shot to deep center. Kemp did not cleanly pick up the baseball, so the play was scored a double and E-8. Granderson scored on Eric Campbell’s sac fly.

Greinke’s final line: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. He threw 101 pitches (63 strikes).

Greinke nonetheless has now allowed two EARNED runs or fewer in 22 straight starts, passing Roger Clemens (1990-91) for the longest streak in the majors since earned runs became a stat in 1913.

Web gem: Yasiel Puig turned in a highlight-reel catch, even by Lagares standard. On Wilmer Flores’ second-inning shot to right-center, Puig covered an awesome amount of ground and made a diving catch that even the pro-Mets crowd at Citi Field recognized with applause.

Puig had a complicated game.

Puig was tagged out between second and third base for a double play in the sixth when Hanley Ramirez hit a popup that was ruled an infield fly. Murphy had lost the ball and it dropped to the ground.

Two innings later, after producing a one-out double, Puig was doubled off second base. Campbell made a diving catch in his first major-league game in left field. Puig broke for third, not recognizing the catch, and was doubled up at second.

What’s next: The Arizona Diamondbacks visit Citi Field for a weekend series. Bartolo Colon (3-5, 5.34 ERA) opposes rookie right-hander Chase Anderson (2-0, 5.06) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 9, Mets 4

May, 20, 2014
May 20
NEW YORK -- Home is where the heartache is for the New York Mets.

Rookie Rafael Montero lasted only 4 1/3 innings in his second major league start and the Mets twice flopped with bases-loaded, one-out opportunities as the Los Angeles Dodgers won 9-4 on Tuesday night at Citi Field.

The Mets dropped to 20-24, matching their low-water mark at four games under .500. They are 9-13 at home.

With Philadelphia’s win against Miami, the Mets now are alone in last place in the National League East.

The game took 4 hours, 8 minutes -- a minute shy of matching the franchise record for a nine-inning game (4:09, done in 2000 at Dodger Stadium and 2005 against the Milwaukee Brewers).

Trailing by five runs, the Mets clawed back into the game in the bottom of the sixth against Dodgers starter Josh Beckett. Curtis Granderson had a solo homer and Lucas Duda had a two-run shot in the inning to pull the Mets within 6-4. It was Duda’s first homer since April 23 against St. Louis’ Seth Maness.

Anthony Gruppuso / USA TODAY SportsYasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez celebrate Gonzalez's tiebreaking two-run homer in the fifth.

Still, there were wasted opportunities, including a pair of bases-loaded, one-out chances that went for naught. With the Mets trailing 5-1 in the fifth against Beckett, Daniel Murphy struck out and David Wright grounded out after fouling off three full-count pitches. With the Mets trailing 6-4 in the seventh, Chris Withrow sawed Duda’s bat in half and got a pop out to second base. Wilmer Flores then grounded into a fielder’s choice to again strand the bases loaded.

Jose Valverde and Josh Edgin combined to surrender three ninth-inning runs.

Out of control: Montero (0-2) was charged with five earned runs on seven hits and four walks in a 97-pitch effort that lasted only 4 1/3 innings. The rookie wriggled free of serious early trouble, stranding six baserunners through the first three innings, including the bases loaded in the second by striking out reigning co-NL Player of the Week Yasiel Puig.

Montero’s outing imploded in a four-run fifth as the Dodgers took a 5-1 lead. Montero walked Puig to open the inning and, with one out, fell behind in the count to Adrian Gonzalez, 2-0. Gonzalez followed by launching a tiebreaking two-run homer.

Montero could have been bailed out of further trouble, but Chris Young’s lack of range in center field -- at least relative to Juan Lagares’ -- cost the Mets. Young could not run down Matt Kemp’s shot to deep center, resulting in a double. Kemp then scored on Carl Crawford’s single, which chased Montero. Jeurys Familia allowed Crawford to score for the final run charged to Montero.

Montero has now allowed three home runs in two big league starts, matching the total he surrendered in eight starts in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League before his promotion. The second inning was particularly vexing Tuesday. Montero walked three Dodgers in that frame and surrendered a two-out RBI single to Beckett, the opposing pitcher. Opposing pitchers have now produced a hit in six straight games against the Mets.

Cameo: Justin Turner made a late appearance in his return to Citi Field. After Juan Uribe doubled in the ninth, he departed with an apparent recurrence of a hamstring injury. Turner pinch-ran and remained in the game for the bottom of the ninth.

What’s next: Jacob deGrom makes his second major-league start. DeGrom (0-1, 1.29 ERA) opposes left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-2, 3.00) on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m.

Series preview: Mets vs. Dodgers

May, 18, 2014
May 18

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Josh Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke at Citi Field.
METS (20-23, fourth place/NL East) vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (23-22, third place/NL West)

Tuesday: RHP Rafael Montero (0-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (1-1, 2.38), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (0-1, 1.29) vs. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-2, 3.00), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-3, 2.54) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (7-1, 2.03), 7:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers short hops

Josh Beckett on Tuesday earned his first win since Sept. 30, 2012. He had been 0-6 in 14 starts. Beckett did not pitch after mid-May last season and ultimately underwent surgery to remove a rib. That procedure attempted to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome -- a pinched nerve affecting his right arm. For the season, the 34-year-old Beckett leads the L.A. rotation in WHIP (1.056) and hits per nine innings (6.3). Beckett is throwing his fastball a career-low 35.5 percent of the time. He now throws a curveball a career-high 30.1 percent.

Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched a four-inning simulated game Friday and will reenter the rotation Wednesday, officially pushing originally listed starter Paul Maholm to the bullpen. That also could push reliever Chris Withrow to the minors despite a 2.77 ERA, because Withrow is not out of options. Ryu landed on the DL with left-shoulder inflammation.

Maholm (1-4, 5.40 ERA) enters the series off a start against the Miami Marlins in which he allowed 10 runs (five earned) on 11 hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. Reed Johnson homered against him on a 62 mph curveball, the slowest pitch resulting in a long ball in the majors since Jose Bautista sent a 61.7 mph offering also from Maholm over the outfield wall on May 28, 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Maholm made three relief appearances in March/April, including during the club’s season-opening trip to Australia.

Darron Cummings/Associated PressEx-Met Justin Turner will be at Citi Field with the Dodgers on Tuesday.

Justin Turner, a surprise non-tender by the Mets on Dec. 2, returns to Citi Field as a visitor. Turner (.230, 0 HR, 5 RBIs in 74 at-bats) started five times at third base in a six-game stretch through Wednesday with Juan Uribe dealing with a mild hamstring strain.

• Dodgers outfielders Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig have combined to hit .354 (79-for-223) with 15 doubles, 10 homers and 40 RBIs in May.

Puig lost a pair of lengthy streaks Sunday by going 0-for-3 and getting hit by a pitch on the back of the leg in his final plate appearance. He had produced an RBI in eight straight games, matching the franchise record previously accomplished four times, most recently by Adrian Beltre in 2004. He also lost a career-high 16-game hitting streak. Showing more strike-zone discipline than a year ago, Puig ranks seventh in the NL in batting average (.322) and tied for second in RBIs (35). The story about Puig’s defection from Cuba, which includes black-market smugglers, was chronicled in April in ESPN The Magazine.

Ethier largely has been the odd man out. With Kemp resting Sunday, Ethier started for only the third time in L.A.’s past 10 games.

Zack Greinke has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 21 straight starts. That matches Roger Clemens (1990-91) for the longest streak in the majors since earned runs became an official stat in 1913, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Greinke ranks first in the NL in wins (seven) and third in ERA (2.03), trailing only Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (1.25) and Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija (1.62). Greinke has thrown six different types of pitches this season.

• Second baseman Dee Gordon leads the majors with 25 steals. That’s 10 ahead of runner-up Eric Young Jr.

• Backup catcher Drew Butera, the son of former major-league catcher Sal Butera, originally was a Mets farmhand. Two years after he was drafted in the fifth round, Butera was sent to the Minnesota Twins with Dustin Martin on July 30, 2007 for Luis Castillo.

No. 1 catcher A.J. Ellis returned from the disabled list Wednesday after missing 34 games with a left-knee injury that resulted in April 8 arthroscopic surgery. Miguel Olivo was dispatched to Triple-A Albuquerque with Ellis’ activation.

Butera, incidentally, has pitched twice for the Dodgers since Wednesday in lopsided losses. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning, topped out at 94 mph and capped the initial appearance with a strikeout of Miami’s Marcell Ozuna. Three days later at Arizona, Butera surrendered a double and then two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth inning of an 18-7 loss. Butera subsequently recorded two outs, including an inning-ending strikeout of Martin Prado.

Adrian Gonzalez’s 10 homers are tied for third the NL, trailing only Troy Tulowitzki (13) and Giancarlo Stanton (12).

Kenley Jansen has 12 saves in 14 chances and has struck out 31 batters in 18 2/3 innings.

Brian Wilson, who looked so dominant in the season opener in Australia, has mightily struggled. Wilson, 32, has a 9.45 ERA and has allowed 18 hits and 13 walks (one intentional) in 13 1/3 innings. He already has allowed three homers -- a total he has not exceeded since serving up seven long balls in 62 1/3 innings in 2008 as San Francisco Giants closer.

Clayton Kershaw has made two starts since returning from the DL, a trip required because of a strained muscle in his upper back. He’d like to forget the latter outing. Kershaw surrendered seven runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Diamondbacks on Saturday. He allowed four extra-base hits in the second inning alone -- matching the combined total from his three previous starts this season. Kershaw came into the outing with a 25-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but issued two free passes in a seven-run second inning.

Series preview: Mets at Dodgers

August, 12, 2013

Getty ImagesThe Mets face (l to r) Ricky Nolasco, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chris Capuano at Dodger Stadium.
METS (54-61, third place/NL East) vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (67-50, first place/NL West)

Monday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (1-1, 1.96) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (8-9, 3.65), 10:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Matt Harvey (9-3, 2.09) vs. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-3, 2.99), 10:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (8-8, 3.82) vs. LHP Chris Capuano (4-6, 4.50), 10:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers short hops

• The Dodgers are 37-8 since June 22, matching the best 45-game stretch in franchise history. They also posted that record in 1899 and 1953.

The turnaround spared manager Don Mattingly getting fired, he said last week while revealing a late-May meeting with team president Stan Kasten. The Dodgers were a season-low 12 games under .500 before their current 45-game surge.

"Stan was really honest. He didn't want to do anything but he said, 'Donnie, at some point I got to do something,'" Mattingly said, as quoted by "I understood it. I was fine with that. I understand. At some point you need a change of voice, a different voice."

Hanley Ramirez (.359, 11 HR, 37 RBIs) continues to experience pain in his right shoulder a week after diving into the stands during a catch attempt at Wrigley Field. He has not started any of the past seven games. The disabled list is a consideration, although the Dodgers lost some backdating ability when Ramirez was used as a pinch hitter Friday. Nick Punto and Dee Gordon have shared the shortstop duty with Ramirez banged up.

Brian D. Kersey/Getty ImagesYasiel Puig is a leading candidate for NL Rookie of the Year.

• First baseman Adrian Gonzalez departed Sunday’s game in the ninth inning with dizziness. Gonzalez leads the Dodgers in homers (16) and RBIs (72).

Ricky Nolasco was acquired from the Miami Marlins on July 6 for Angel Sanchez, Steve Ames and Josh Wall. Nolasco is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts since joining L.A. He has exceeded 5 2/3 innings only once since arriving, in his Dodgers debut at Arizona.

• Cuban defector Yasiel Puig, a 22-year-old rookie, is hitting .441 (15-for-34) with 12 walks in 10 August games. Puig became the first player since Joe DiMaggio in 1936 to have 70 or more hits and 10 homers in his first 50 major league games.

Writes’s Dave Schoenfield: “Puig got two hits in his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 3, then hit two homers the next game, and has been a lightning rod ever since for his play on the field and for his on-field antics that have upset opponents -- a brawl, a bat flip, a confident attitude, a spikes-high slide that Dusty Baker complained about. He plays the game with the flair of someone who escaped Cuba and enjoys displaying his talent for the entire world.”

• Former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson, returning from Tommy John surgery, signed with the Dodgers and is working his way back. He tossed a perfect inning Sunday with Triple-A Albuquerque. He has another minor league appearance scheduled for Tuesday, the day before he is eligible to be activated from the disabled list. The Mets, including pitching coach Dan Warthen, flew to California to watch Wilson during the offseason, and were disappointed Wilson was not further along in his rehab from the elbow surgery at that point.

• Center field Matt Kemp has been sidelined since injuring his left ankle sliding into home plate on June 21. He shagged fly balls and took batting practice Sunday, signaling a return is getting closer.

• Closer Kenley Jansen had retired 27 straight batters -- the equivalent of a perfect game -- before surrendering a single to St. Louis’ David Freese on Thursday. Jansen became the first Dodger to retire 27 straight since Greg Maddux retired 32 straight from Aug. 13-19, 2006, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• Ex-Met Chris Capuano allowed five runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Rays on Friday. The southpaw had combined to toss 13 scoreless innings over his previous two starts, against the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs.

• Reliever Carlos Marmol was acquired from the Cubs on July 2 for reliever Matt Guerrier. Marmol made his Dodgers debut 20 days later, after a minor league stint.

A.J. Ellis sees the most pitchers per plate appearance in the NL.

• Third baseman Juan Uribe became the victim of a hidden-ball trick by the Rays when he stepped off third base Saturday.

• L.A. acquired Drew Butera, a former Mets farmhand, from the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named and assigned the catcher to Albuquerque.

TC explains decision to use Rice in 9th

April, 25, 2013
Why did Scott Rice remain in the game for the ninth inning with the score tied Thursday afternoon?

Terry Collins had a reasoned answer.

The manager said he risks burning out Bobby Parnell by using him in too many tie ballgames. And the way the Dodgers' lefties were lined up, Collins added, keeping Rice in the game made sense.

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Scott Rice

Switch-hitter Nick Punto opened the inning with a double off Rice, and Collins said he wanted Punto to hit from that side because he had not yet been forced to do so in the series.

The reason Rice was in the game for the ninth inning to begin with was to face the next batter, lefty-hitting Adrian Gonzalez. And Rice did coax a groundout to first base, although Punto advanced to third on the play.

Collins resolved going into the inning that if Rice had retired Punto and Gonzalez, the manager would have inserted Scott Atchison to face the righty-hitting Kemp.

Instead, with a runner on third and one out, Collins had Rice intentionally walk Kemp to face lefty-hitting Andre Ethier.

Rice hung a slider for the tiebreaking RBI single.

“I just left it up,” the southpaw said.

At that point, Collins inserted Parnell to try to limit the damage. An inherited runner scored against Parnell, Ike Davis produced a solo homer in the bottom half and the Mets lost, 3-2.

Lefty batters had been 3-for-19 with three walks against Rice entering the appearance.

“This guy gets so many groundballs,” Collins said about Rice. “… And he hasn’t given up a hit to a lefty all year. I mean, like one hit to a lefty all year. We tried to get a groundball from Ethier to get out of the inning.

“I’m trying to keep from having to use Bobby in tie games every time. If I start the inning with him and he has a 20-some-pitch inning, I don’t have him for tomorrow. I said, ‘Well, if I have to, maybe we can just use him against one hitter to get out of the inning.’ It just didn’t work like that.”

Collins said he really has to “protect” veteran relievers Atchison and Brandon Lyon from overuse.

“We’re already wearing him down a little bit,” Collins said about Lyon.

Collins added: “Some of those young guys, we’ve got to get them in some of these games, let them pitch in some tough situations to get them ready. Because you don’t know when you’re going to need them.”

The use of Rice in the critical spot is a testament to Collins’ faith in the 31-year-old rookie -- and certainly an indication of Rice’s superior performance thus far compared with fellow lefty Josh Edgin. Rice has now entered in the eighth inning or later in each of his past five appearances.

“It feels great that they have confidence in me,” Rice said. “I’ve just got to forget about this one and go out there tomorrow and keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 3, Mets 2

April, 25, 2013
WHAT IT MEANS: Left-hander Scott Rice spent 14 seasons in the minors -- including the past two with the Los Angeles Dodgers -- before becoming a positive contributor this year in his first MLB season.

The 31-year-old Rice stumbled Thursday afternoon, though.

With a switch-hitter and a pair of lefty hitters due up and the score tied in the ninth, Terry Collins demonstrated his faith in Rice by allowing him to remain in the game to face the heart of the Dodgers’ lineup.

Rice proceeded to surrender a leadoff double to Nick Punto. After a one-out intentional walk to righty-hitting Matt Kemp, Rice then surrendered a tiebreaking RBI single to Andre Ethier.

Bobby Parnell entered with runners on the corners and one out and surrendered a run-scoring infield single to Juan Uribe as L.A. took a two-run lead.

The Dodgers ultimately beat the Mets, 3-2, at Citi Field after Ike Davis contributed a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth.

The Mets (10-10), bidding to win their first four home series of a season for the first time since 1976, instead dropped to .500 with the rubber-game loss.

The Mets now are 5-0 in games started by Matt Harvey and 5-10 when anyone else takes the mound.

HEFTY PERFORMANCE: Jeremy Hefner, who had struggled serving up long balls this season, limited L.A. to one run on three hits while striking out four, walking three and hitting a batter in a 93-pitch effort spanning seven innings. The lone run came in the first, when Hefner plunked leadoff batter Carl Crawford and surrendered a two-out RBI single to Kemp.

WOE IS IKE: Davis, who was displaced from the cleanup spot by Lucas Duda on Thursday afternoon, struggled until delivering the ninth-inning homer. Davis had been 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. His second strikeout ended the sixth inning and stranded two runners in scoring position.

The Mets had evened the score at 1 against left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R) earlier in the frame on a sacrifice fly by David Wright.

Davis has 24 Ks in 69 at-bats.

He also dropped a ball off the heel of his glove in foul territory in the eighth, although Jerry Hairston Jr. subsequently flied out and the faux pas did not cost the Mets.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Philadelphia Phillies visit for a weekend series. Dillon Gee (1-3, 5.95 ERA), who is coming off an outing in which he tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Nats and picked up his first win, opposes right-hander Kyle Kendrick (1-1, 3.28) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener.

Morning briefing: 'Spin Citi slam

April, 25, 2013

Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
Jordany Valdespin celebrates with teammates after the first walk-off grand slam by a Met in 22 years.
FIRST PITCH: David Wright had a game-tying two-out single in the ninth that plated Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin belted a grand slam an inning later as the Mets beat the Dodgers, 7-3, Wednesday night at Citi Field.

It was the first walk-off grand slam by a Met since Kevin McReynolds against Montreal’s Scott Ruskin on June, 25 1991 and the sixth in franchise history. It also marked the second walk-off hit by a Met this season, joining Marlon Byrd against the Miami Marlins on April 7.

(Robin Ventura had a grand-slam single to end Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. He was not credited with the homer because teammate Todd Pratt interrupted his trip around the bases to celebrate.)

Collin Cowgill and John Buck also have slams this season.

The late comeback got Matt Harvey off the hook for his first 2013 loss. It prevented the Mets from dipping below .500 for the first time this season.

Baxter had hustled for a double to lead off the ninth with the Mets trailing 3-2 after Carl Crawford could not hold onto his leadoff sinking liner.

The Mets (10-9) now send Jeremy Hefner to the mound for today’s rubber-game matinee.

Hefner, who has allowed an NL-high seven homers, opposes South Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu in the 1:10 p.m. series finale. (Interesting side note: Ryu learned his changeup from ex-Met Mr. Koo.)

Also, please join me for a noon Mets chat here.

Thursday’s news reports:

Elsa/Getty Images
Matt Harvey was displeased with his performance despite a quality start.

• Harvey surrendered a replay-awarded two-run homer to Matt Kemp in the sixth that gave Los Angeles a 3-1 lead. It marked the first time this season an opponent had scored more than a run against Harvey and the first time he failed to complete seven innings. Harvey (6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) watched his ERA rise to 1.54.

Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 remains the last major leaguer to toss seven-plus innings and allow one or fewer runs in each of his first five starts of a season. Still, Wright’s two-out hit in the ninth will allow Harvey on Monday in Miami to try to join Pedro Martinez (2006) and Dwight Gooden (1988) as the only Mets to produce 5-0 April records. Harvey's 109 strikeouts through 15 career starts trail only Gooden (113) and Nolan Ryan (112) in franchise history.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Newsday, Los Angeles Times and

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News notes the attendance is not seeing a Gooden-like bump from Harvey starts. Not yet anyway.

You’d think Mets fans would be filling up Citi Field to see him, the way they once did for Dwight Gooden, but only 26,000 or show showed up for the much-hyped Harvey-Strasburg duel on Friday, and then on Wednesday, even with the ballclub offering discounted tickets and Matt Harvey T-shirts to promote his start, the place looked two-thirds empty. Certainly the attendance seemed smaller than the announced crowd of 24,130.

What it tells you is just how disillusioned Mets fans are with everything that has transpired in recent years, and all too aware that everything GM Sandy Alderson has done is with 2014 and beyond in mind.

Read more on Harvey in the Post, Times and Journal.

• The Mets, Mayor Bloomberg and MLB held a midday press conference at City Hall on Wednesday to launch All-Star voting.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
David Wright and brother Daniel ride during last year's All-Star parade in Kansas City. This year, 42nd St. in New York City will be the parade route.

Light on substance, the event did reveal the pregame parade featuring All-Stars riding in cars will travel down 42nd St. on July 16 from Bryant Park, past Grand Central Station, to between Second and Third avenues.

Also revealed: The Mets selected Baxter, Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis to appear on the All-Star ballot as the team’s outfielders -- omitting Byrd, Cowgill and Valdespin.

In a lighter moment, a questioner asked Wright why he sticks his tongue out while playing. Wright suggested it is a focus thing, which he has been doing since childhood. “I used to get yelled at by my teachers when I was taking tests in elementary school, because when I concentrate, my tongue just comes out,” the six-time All-Star said. “And that’s about all I’ve got.”

In discussing New York City as a sports mecca, Bloomberg noted the Mets soon should have a soccer-playing neighbor at adjacent Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Hizzoner said he “hopefully” expected a stadium announcement soon.

There were a few painful moments of forced humor. Bloomberg, who is the subject of a parody Twitter account about his Spanish (@ElBloombito), lightheartedly told Mets ambassador Edgardo Alfonzo: "Tu español es bueno.” Bloomberg, at the outset of the press conference, had said: "Welcome to our home field, City Hall.” After no reaction from those assembled at City Hall, the mayor added: “That’s funny. You're supposed to laugh."

MLB and the Mets also announced plans to donate more than $4 million to causes including FirstStepNYC (PS/IS 41 in Brownsville, Brooklyn), youth-field renovations at Hinton Park in Flushing and O’Donohue Park in Far Rockaway, St. Albans Community Living Center in Jamaica, Boys & Girls Club Construction Project (South Queens Boys & Girls Club in Richmond Hill), City Harvest and Wheelchair Sports Federation.

Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and

Jonathon Niese, who was struck with a comebacker in the lower right leg off and forced from Tuesday’s game, had some swelling and tightness a day after receiving the jolt. He may delay his bullpen session by a day to Friday and throw more lightly than customarily between starts. But Niese intends to proceed with his next scheduled start, against the Philadelphia Phillies opposite Cole Hamels on Sunday at Citi Field. Read more in the Record and Times.

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Zack Wheeler looks to rebound from a six-walk outing when he opens the 51s' homestand tonight.

• Zack Wheeler is listed as the scheduled starter for Triple-A Las Vegas tonight -- leapfrogging others in the rotation. The 51s have not played since Sunday because of frigid weather and a pre-scheduled off-day. Wheeler, who will face Tacoma (Seattle Mariners) at 10:05 ET, is coming off an outing last Friday in which he was charged with four earned runs on three hits and six walks while tossing 108 pitches in 4 1/3 innings. Three of the runs charged to Wheeler scored after he departed with the bases loaded. You can listen to the radio call of 51s games for free here.

Shaun Marcum joined his teammates at Citi Field in advance of Saturday’s start against the Phillies. He indicated the nerve inflammation that caused pain in his neck and shoulder had calmed with injections. Terry Collins plans to cap Marcum at 90 pitches in his Mets debut. Read more in the Post, Times, Newsday and Star-Ledger.

• Mets security guard Paolo Neto said Kemp's replay-reviewed ball to the right-field corner definitely was a homer. “It was over the fence,” Neto told Howie Kussoy in the Post. “I was just sitting there when I saw the ball. I didn’t even think it was going to reach me, but it came right at me. I was just trying to protect myself and it hit me in the hands.” Read more in the Daily News.

• Jayce Boyd went 2-for-2 with two RBIs, two runs scored and three walks and Jeff Glenn went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs as Savannah beat Delmarva, 9-3. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Read more on Baxter's hustling leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth in the Post.

From the bloggers … Shannon from will forgo sleep to watch Harvey, but not to watch the bullpen.

Blaine Beatty, who was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles for Doug Sisk on Dec. 8, 1987, turns 49.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Which Mets will be selected to the All-Star Game?

Series preview: Mets vs. Dodgers

April, 22, 2013

The Mets face (l to r) southpaws Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly and Hyun-Jin Ryu this week at Citi Field.
METS (9-8, third place/NL East) vs. LOS ANEGELES DODGERS (8-10, fourth place/NL West)

Tuesday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-1, 3.80) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-2, 1.88), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 0.93) vs. LHP Ted Lilly (0-0, -.--), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.07) vs. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-1, 4.01), 1:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers short hops

• Los Angeles had eight starting pitchers in spring training, but the surplus is depleted. Aaron Harang was traded to the Colorado Rockies, then flipped to the Seattle Mariners, when L.A. seemed like it had a ton of depth. Zack Greinke suffered a broken left collarbone in the altercation with San Diego’s Carlos Quentin (which devolved into Padres president Tom Garfinkel having to apologize for an insensitive comment.) Fill-in Chris Capuano suffered a strained left calf. And now Chad Billingsley landed on the DL Sunday with elbow pain.

Ted Lilly makes his season debut Wednesday, after three minor league starts during which he allowed 24 hits and 15 runs (13 earned) in 17 innings. Lilly is returning from labrum surgery on his left shoulder. He missed the final 118 games of last season. Lilly was ready out of spring training and was upset when he did not make the Opening Day roster.

Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports
Zack Greinke suffered a broken left collarbone courtesy of Carlos Quentin.

Stephen Fife made his season debut Sunday in Baltimore, plugging another rotation spot.

Clayton Kershaw publicly said he did not want to negotiate a contract extension in-season, but the sides are believed to have continued talking hush-hush beyond Opening Day.

Kershaw became the second-youngest Dodger to reach 1,000 career strikeouts on Wednesday, at 25 years, 29 days. Fernando Valenzuela accomplished that feat at age 24 years, 303 days.

Kershaw enters the Citi Field outing off a loss to San Diego in which he matched a career high by surrendering three homers. Still, Kershaw has been exceptional this season. He is not getting run support. L.A. has scored a combined seven runs in his four starts.

Kershaw is 5-0 with a 1.37 ERA in six career starts against the Mets.

• The Dodgers acquired catcher Ramon Hernandez from the Rockies on April 6 for Harang. The trade brought in a backup for A.J. Ellis that will allow 25-year-old catcher Tim Federowicz to get regular playing time in Triple-A. All three were on the active roster this weekend in Baltimore, but that is expected to change.

Hyun-Jin Ryu was named to seven straight South Korean All-Star teams before joining the majors this season. He is viewed as a No. 3 of 4 starter. The Dodgers paid a $25.7 million posting fee to Ryu’s South Korean club, plus owe him $36 million in salary over six years.

Hanley Ramirez, who is on the disabled list after undergoing right thumb surgery, may return quickly -- by the end of the month -- after initial projections of mid-May. Ramirez suffered the injury in the final game of the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic championship run, while diving awkwardly for a groundball.

L.A. has not announced whether Ramirez will play shortstop or third base when he returns, although the educated guess is shortstop. Both spots having gaping voids. Shortstop Justin Sellers is hitting .174. Third baseman Luis Cruz is hitting .087.

• The Dodgers took on $250 million in payroll in the Aug. 25, 2012 mega-trade with the Boston Red Sox that brought in Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.

• Cuban defector Yasiel Puig -- who signed for $42 million -- is hitting .333 with three homers and nine RBIs through 48 at-bats with Double-A Chattanooga. The 22-year-old right fielder may eventually make Andre Ethier expendable -- or, perhaps, Matt Kemp … if Kemp continues to struggle. Puig is briefly sidetracked in the Southern League because of a sprained left thumb.

• The struggling Kemp -- who finished second in MVP balloting just two years ago, behind Ryan Braun -- injured his shoulder last August in Colorado and had left surgery for a partially torn labrum in October. He had only one Cactus League homer and has not gone deep this season. Kemp is signed through 2019.

• The Dodgers’ most common batting order:

Crawford, lf
Mark Ellis, 2b
Kemp, cf
Gonzalez, 1b
Ethier, rf
Ellis, c
Cruz, 3b
Sellers, ss

• The Dodgers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-4 win Sunday at Baltimore. Kemp, who started the season slowly, went 3-for-5 to lift his average to .235. He produced his sixth RBI.

• Manager Don Mattingly appears on the hot seat. His 2014 option has not been picked up.

Series preview: Mets vs. Dodgers

July, 20, 2012

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Nathan Eovaldi this weekend.
METS (47-45, third place/NL East) vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (49-44, second place/NL West)

Friday: LHP Johan Santana (6-6, 3.59) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (6-5, 3.53), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Miguel Batista (1-2, 4.33) vs. LHP Chris Capuano (9-5, 2.75), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Jon Niese (7-4, 3.58) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-6, 4.33), 1:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers short hops

• Right fielder Andre Ethier and center fielder Matt Kemp, both of whom missed the series against the Mets in Los Angeles, returned to the Dodgers after the All-Star break. The Dodgers went 24-27 in the games Kemp missed with a left hamstring strain. He had been the NL’s Player of the Month for April and had produced gaudy numbers before the injury: .355, 12 homers and 28 RBIs in 36 games. Ethier had suffered a left oblique strain on June 28.

Reed Saxon/Associated Press
Matt Kemp returned from the disabled list after the All-Star break. He had missed 51 games.

Kemp is hitting .348 with a homer and three RBIs in five starts since returning. Ethier is hitting .350 with a homer and four RBIs in six games (five starts).

• Various reports indicate the Dodgers are in serious discussions with the Cubs about acquiring right-hander Ryan Dempster (5-3, NL-leading 1.86 ERA).

Chad Billingsley is suffering from right flexor tendon inflammation. Meanwhile, Ted Lilly remains on the DL with shoulder inflammation. Stephen Fife made his major league debut Tuesday against the Phillies, allowing one run in six innings. Billingsley was scratched from Sunday’s start, and Chris Capuano pitched a day early.

• The Mets are the lone NL team Capuano has never beaten.

• Third baseman Juan Uribe is 1-for-35 in his past 16 games.

• First baseman James Loney has not homered in 45 games and 128 at-bats.

• Reliever Todd Coffey underwent Tommy John surgery Wednesday.

Last series results

Mets won, 3-1, at Dodger Stadium, June 28-July 1 (AP game recaps)

Mets 3, Dodgers 2: In their first head-to-head matchup since Chris Capuano left for free agency, Chris Young and the Mets came away with the victory. David Wright hit a solo homer and RBI double as the Mets sent the Dodgers to their fifth straight loss. The Dodgers ended their 33-inning scoreless drought in the fourth, with Dee Gordon getting congratulated up and down the dugout after crossing the plate. Young (2-1) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. Bobby Parnell, getting his first save opportunity since closer Frank Francisco went on the disabled list, pitched a perfect ninth inning for his first save of the year. Capuano (9-3) gave up three runs, five hits and no walks over seven innings. More

Mets 9, Dodgers 0: R.A. Dickey allowed three hits over eight innings to become the majors' first 12-game winner. Daniel Murphy homered and drove in five runs. The Dodgers' only hit over the first 6 1/3 innings was by opposing pitcher Aaron Harang, a two-out single in the second that fell between Kirk Niewenhuis and Andres Torres after some miscommunication. A.J. Ellis singled in the seventh and Tony Gwynn Jr. doubled in the eighth. More

Mets 5, Dodgers 0: Johan Santana scattered three hits over eight innings and sent the Dodgers to their seventh straight loss. Santana is 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in five career starts against the Dodgers, who were again missing Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis. They haven't led at any point of a game since June 24. Ike Davis hit a three-run homer. Nathan Eovaldi (0-5) gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. More

Dodgers 8, Mets 3: James Loney had two RBIs, and the Dodgers parlayed three errors into six unearned runs to help Clayton Kershaw win and snap the team's season-worst seven-game skid. Kershaw (6-4) allowed three runs (one earned) and five hits over seven innings. Terry Collins rested Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy in order to stack his lineup with all right-handed bats against Kershaw. The plan backfired in the fifth, when the Dodgers turned two errors by the right side of the infield into a pair of unearned runs that tied the score at 3 -- without the benefit of a hit. Second baseman Ronny Cedeno dropped a routine throw from David Wright on a potential double-play grounder by Tony Gwynn Jr. And Dee Gordon's grounder was misplayed by Justin Turner at first base. More

Mets morning briefing 7.4.12

July, 4, 2012
The fireworks came a night early for the Mets. The Amazin's completed game No. 81 -- reaching the midway point of their season at 44-37 -- by blasting the reeling Phillies, 11-1, Tuesday night before a Citi Field-record crowd of 42,516. Daniel Murphy (4-for-5) and David Wright each produced four RBIs and Jon Niese tossed a season-high eight innings in the series-opening victory. Niese also contributed a two-run single against Vance Worley.

“We’re very pleased to be where we are,” Terry Collins said. “The guys have played very hard. I think the most impressive thing is their resilience. After a bad night or a bad series or whatever we’ve had, they’ve been able to bounce back from it. But we’ve got 81 more to go.”

The Mets will try to match their season high at eight games over .500 when Chris Young (2-1, 3.30 ERA) opposes winless left-hander Cliff Lee (0-5, 4.13) this afternoon.

Wednesday's news reports:

Jordany Valdespin appears headed back to the Mets, sources told Valdespin homered Tuesday for Triple-A Buffalo, a day after producing a four-steal game with the Bisons. It was not immediately certain who would be the roster casualty, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis was scratched from Tuesday's lineup after suffering a bruised right hand during batting practice. Andres Torres instead started in center field.

• Wright's three-run homer moved him past Howard Johnson for sole possession of third on the club's all-time homer list at 193. He also became the first player in franchise history to reach double digits in long balls in nine different seasons. Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry and Ed Kranepool each had eight seasons of 10-plus homers as Mets.

In support of Wright, Sandy Alderson took to Twitter for a second time in three days to take a jab at the selection of Pablo Sandoval as the NL's starting third baseman in the All-Star Game.

Alderson tweeted on Tuesday: ASG election of "Kung Fu Panda" shows the value of a cute nickname. Surprised Giants fans didn't elect a "ball dude" to start at 3B.

That followed a Sunday tweet in which Alderson wrote: Wright vs.Sandoval: A city of 8 million was outvoted by a city of 800,000.

Those jabs had been Alderson's first tweets from his account @MetsGM since April 12.

Read more on Wright's big Tuesday (and Alderson's tweeting) in Newsday and the Daily News.

• Meanwhile, retiring third baseman Chipper Jones has been added to the All-Star Game as a replacement for injured Dodger Matt Kemp, joining Sandoval and Wright.

• Murphy had two late shots at the cycle. And when bench coach Bob Geren brought up the possibility, Murphy quipped: "Not unless they let me hit it from second base," according to Conor Orr in the Star-Ledger. Read other game recaps in the Times, Record, Newsday, Daily News and Post.

• The Phillies dropped to 10 games under .500 for the first time since July 22, 2002. Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News about floundering Philadelphia:

The Phillies look like a dead team that knows trades might be coming. At the very least, they may be digging themselves too deep a hole to climb out of, even with Chase Utley finally back from injury and Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay perhaps on the way as well. For that matter, I listened to Charlie Manuel talk on Tuesday about getting his injured stars back soon, perhaps making a big run in the second half of the season, and I thought I was hearing Jerry Manuel all over again, holding onto hope in 2009 for a turnaround that never came. It’s hard to believe but, somehow, the Phillies and their all-world starting rotation have become the Mets of recent years, when whatever could go wrong usually did. And, no less unexpectedly, the Mets have become the Phillies of recent years, tough in the clutch, riding a wave of dominant starting pitching, including eight innings of brilliance from Jon Niese on Tuesday night.

Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post:

In this upside-down National League East, the five-time defending divisional champions are looking like the broken team. The club that appears poised to dominate the trade deadline like the Mets did in 2011. The guys giving away good players -- Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino, in this instance -- and looking ahead to next year, in other words. ... It’s a stunning development for an organization that had seemed to figure out everything. Sure, industry folks wondered if the big contracts (Howard, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon) and win-now trades (for Lee, Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence) would eventually haunt the Phillies. Not this soon, though.

• Following up on a report in the Post, David Lennon in Newsday wrote about a potential reunion with Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez:

Courtesy of New York Mets
The largest crowd in Citi Field history was treated to a pre-July 4 fireworks display after Tuesday's rout of the Phillies.

Put it this way: they aren't against the idea, and a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday that Francisco Rodriguez is among the relievers currently being considered to add bullpen help. The New York Post first reported the Mets' interest in K-Rod, and it appears his past transgressions in Flushing won't get in the way of a possible reunion. Rodriguez, who earns $8 million this season on a one-year deal, is presently underperforming in a setup role for Brewers closer John Axford and might soon be available.

The Mets could probably get him by taking on most of the money -- down to $4 million by now -- rather than giving up a valuable prospect, something that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is very reluctant to do.

K-Rod's former teammates say they would not object to a return. Josh Thole told Mark Hale in the Post: “The people outside don’t know what kind of guy this guy is. He made one mistake.” Said Tim Byrdak to the newspaper: “I never saw any of [the problems] when I was with him last year. Great guy. ... Nice guy to play with. He was a good teammate.”

A team source, while not entirely ruling out acquiring a high-priced closer type, recently told that he did not foresee the Mets trading for another team's closer for setup duty. Of course, K-Rod doesn't exactly fit into that description anymore, since he has served as a set-up man for the past year.

Meanwhile, Tom Haudricourt in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel chronicles K-Rod's 2012 struggles. Writes Haudricourt:

Rodriguez, who earlier in the season pitched with an ailing leg and back but supposedly has felt OK of late, surrendered two runs on two hits, including a homer, in two-thirds of an inning [Tuesday]. He emerged with a 1.53 WHIP (walks and hits per inning), compared with a 1.138 WHIP in 31 appearances with Milwaukee after being acquired from the New York Mets in a mid-season trade. [Brewers manager Ron] Roenicke said it has been a matter of command for Rodriguez, who has issued 16 walks in 36 2/3 innings while allowing five home runs.

"His stuff, for me, is actually better," said Roenicke. "I don't know [why his command has been worse]. Some of it was the issue with the leg but he's been feeling pretty good lately, so I can't answer that. He's usually not wild with his fastball. This year, he's been a little more wild with the breaking ball. The breaking ball used to be automatic. When I saw him three years ago [with the Angels], it was curveball, slider and then an in-the-dirt slider whenever he wanted to. It's not that way now, but I don't know what the difference is."

Jason Bay hit indoors and ran at Citi Field on Tuesday. He expected to head to the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Thursday and potentially be activated from the disabled list in nine days, when the Mets reassemble after the All-Star break in Atlanta for the July 13 second-half opener. Read more on Bay's return from a concussion in the Record, Star-Ledger, Times and Newsday.

• Citi Field again will host soccer on Aug. 15, when Ecuador faces Chile at 8 p.m. Tickets, which begin at $30, go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. at (718) 507-TIXX and at Ecuador and Greece met at the stadium on June 7, 2011 and played to a 1-1 draw before an announced crowd of 39,656.

• Valdespin had an infield single that scored Raul Reyes in the bottom of the ninth for Buffalo to make a winner of Jenrry Mejia, despite the reliever allowing two runs in two innings. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: The Mets have four players with 40-plus RBIs (Wright, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Murphy). Name the only other NL team that can claim that distinction.

Tuesday's answer: The Phillies last finished in last place in the NL East in 2000, when they went 65-97 under manager Terry Francona.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 5, Dodgers 0

June, 30, 2012
Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: On June 1, Johan Santana tossed the organization’s first no-hitter. The southpaw closed the month by allowing three hits over eight scoreless innings Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

And with Ike Davis surging back over the Mendoza line with a three-run homer and double, the Mets beat Los Angeles, 5-0.

The victory moved the Mets to within one game of their first-ever four-game series sweep of the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, minus injured sluggers Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, has been shut out five times in its past six games.

Davis’ three-run homer in the sixth against Nathan Eovaldi after an intentional walk to David Wright staked the Mets to a five-run lead. Once the subject of demotion talks, Davis now ranks second on the team in RBIs with 45, trailing only Wright’s 50.

Of Davis’ 11 homers, six have been three-run shots, while another has been a grand slam. He has six homers and 24 RBIs in his past 19 games.

With a 2-for-4 performance, Davis’ average also moved to .203, only its second time over the Mendoza line this season.

Santana is now 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in five career starts against the Dodgers.

DOUBLE TALK: Before Davis’ three-homer gave the Mets breathing room, the Mets followed the same blueprint twice to produce runs. In the second, Davis doubled, advanced to third on Lucas Duda’s flyout and scored on Daniel Murphy’s sacrifice fly. In the fifth, it was Murphy who doubled, moved to third on a groundout to the right side of the infield by Kirk Nieuwenhuis and scored on a sac fly by Josh Thole for a 2-0 lead.

OFF-BASE: About the only blemish Saturday: Andres Torres’ baserunning. Torres was doubled off first base on Wright’s routine flyout to right field in the first inning. In the third, Torres was picked off first base by catcher A.J. Ellis.

FIELD OF DREAMS: Mets infielders had four stellar fielding plays in a tight game early. Wright barehanded Elian Herrera’s fourth-inning bunt attempt and retired him at first base. Two innings earlier, Murphy ranged to his right to initiate a stellar 4-6-3 double play on Scott Van Slyke. Santana also turned in two fielding gems.

WHAT’S NEXT: Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw stands between the Mets and a four-game sweep. Kershaw (5-4, 2.72 ERA) opposes Dillon Gee (5-6, 4.42) in the ESPN-televised series finale at 8 p.m. ET Sunday. The Mets have not swept a series of any length at Dodger Stadium since taking a two-game set in 1990. Kershaw is 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA in five career starts against the Mets.



Daniel Murphy
.289 9 57 79
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187