New York Mets: Miguel Batista

Series preview: Mets vs. Braves

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
4:44
PM ET

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Paul Maholm, Kris Medlen and Tommy Hanson this weekend.
METS (65-72, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (78-60, second place/NL East)

Friday: LHP Jon Niese (10-8, 3.55) vs. LHP Paul Maholm (11-9, 3.79), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (2-5, 4.52) vs. RHP Kris Medlen (7-1, 1.56), 4:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Chris Young (4-7, 4.48) vs. RHP Tommy Hanson (12-7, 4.45), 1:10 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

Chipper Jones makes his final appearance in Queens as a player this weekend. He famously named his son Shea (now 8 years old) after the Mets’ former homer because of his success there.

Jones hit his second walk-off homer of the season Sunday, when he slugged a three-run shot against Philadelphia. He now has nine career game-ending homers, breaking a tie with Hank Aaron for the franchise record. Aaron had two with the Milwaukee Braves and another six after the move to Atlanta. Jones’ two walk-off homers in a season match the major league record for a player who has turned 40. Andres Galarraga also performed the feat twice, in 2001 with the San Francisco Giants.

Jones has 2,714 career hits, one shy of matching Bill Buckner for 60th on the all-time list.

Kris Medlen is the reigning NL Pitcher of the Month. He went 4-0 with an 0.50 ERA (2 ER in 35 2/3 innings) while striking out 35 and walking four in August. Medlen is 6-0 with a 0.54 ERA in seven starts since moving from the bullpen to the rotation on July 31.


Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Dan Uggla's .207 average is the lowest in the National League among qualifiers.


He produced a 34 2/3-inning scoreless streak that began with a start against the Mets on Aug. 11. It marked the longest scoreless streak by a Brave since Greg Maddux went 39 1/3 run-free innings in 2000.

Medlen is now 12-2 with a 3.08 ERA in 25 career major league starts. The Braves have won his last 18 starts, a franchise record. The record previously was held by John Smoltz (15 in 1996). The last major league team to win that many consecutive starts by a pitcher was the Yankees in 2000 with Roger Clemens on the mound (20 straight).

• After three games out of the starting lineup, slumping Dan Uggla has now made consecutive starts at second base. Uggla’s .207 average is last among National League qualifiers, a full 13 points worse than runner-up Drew Stubbs of Cincinnati. Uggla’s 150 strikeouts are six shy of matching the franchise record he set last season. Andruw Jones previously held the record, with 147 strikeouts in 2004. Martin Prado started the three games with Uggla on the bench. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated he would pick spots for Uggla to start.

• Catcher Brian McCann went hitless in four at-bats Thursday and is hitting .155 (13-for-84) with no extra-base hits in 24 games since Aug. 1. McCann received a cortisone shot in his right shoulder after Saturday’s game and did not return to the lineup until Wednesday. McCann also received a cortisone shot Aug. 7. He has a frayed labrum and a cyst and may require offseason surgery. David Ross handled the catching duty with McCann unavailable.

• Rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who has been sidelined since July 8 with a fractured right pinkie, will complete his rehab assignment with Class A Lynchburg and should be activated during the weekend series against the Mets. Ex-Red Paul Janish primarily has handled shortstop in Simmons’ absence. Jack Wilson, who fractured a finger against the Mets in July, was released last week before being activated.

Miguel Batista, who signed a minor league contract with Atlanta on July 27 after declining to go to Triple-A with the Mets, returns to Citi Field in a Braves uniform. He was called up on Aug. 25 and has allowed one run in five innings spanning four relief appearances.

Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran received September call-ups. Teheran received the promotion despite a 7-9 record and 5.08 ERA in 26 starts for Triple-A Gwinnett. Jair Jurrjens was bypassed for a call-up. He had a 6.89 ERA in 11 appearances (10 starts) earlier in the season in the majors. Backup first baseman Lyle Overbay also was among the September call-ups. He had been signed Aug. 20 after being released by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

• Center fielder Michael Bourn is one homer shy of becoming the fourth player in Atlanta history to reached double digits in homers, triples and steals in the same season. The others: Ralph Garr (1974), Marquis Grissom (1996) and Rafael Furcal (2003 and 2005).

• Atlanta acquired infielder Jeff Baker from the Detroit Tigers for a player to be named or cash last Friday, at the non-waiver trade deadline.

• Closer Craig Kimbrel notched his 34th save Thursday. He has struck out 94 in 51 1/3 innings.

• The Braves enter the weekend off consecutive 1-0 victories against the Colorado Rockies. Both Braves runs were unearned. The last time a team won consecutive games by that score using unearned runs came in July 1984, with the Los Angeles Dodgers defeating the Cincinnati Reds, according to STATS LLC. Mike Minor took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning in the Wednesday victory. Atlanta went 3-for-35 with runners in scoring position during the four-game series against Colorado.

• Call-up Jose Constanza, who injured Daniel Murphy on a slide in 2010, won the International League batting title. Constanza hit .314.

Last series results

Atlanta won, 2-1, at Citi Field, Aug. 10-12 (AP game recaps)

Braves 4, Mets 0: Paul Maholm pitched a three-hitter in his second start for Atlanta and the Braves got two-run homers from Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla. Heyward connected in the first inning to help spoil Matt Harvey's home debut with the Mets. Uggla went deep in the eighth off reliever Josh Edgin for his first homer in more than a month. More

Braves 9, Mets 3: Freddie Freeman had five RBIs in the first two innings and the Braves battered Johan Santana in his return from the disabled list. Michael Bourn had three hits, Chipper Jones chased Santana with an RBI single in a seven-run second inning and Atlanta roughed up the two-time Cy Young Award winner in the worst start of his career. Kris Medlen (3-1) pitched effectively into the seventh inning, striking out seven while improving to 2-0 since joining the rotation. More

Mets 6, Braves 5: Jon Niese handed a five-run lead to the bullpen, then watched from the bench as it started to unravel. Frank Francisco walked a pair of batters with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning, then gave up a two-run double to Martin Prado that put the potential tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second. When Jason Heyward then swung and missed at strike three, the slider was in the dirt and rolled under catcher Rob Johnson. Johnson took his time, however, and his throw just beat Heyward for the final out. More

Farm report: Relief a sideshow for Nitkowski

August, 1, 2012
8/01/12
9:20
AM ET

Adam Rubin
Sidearm left-hander C.J. Nitkowski auditioned for the Mets in March, but did not sign until this month.
Ex-Cub Jeff Stevens greeted new teammate C.J. Nitkowski at Double-A Binghamton with relief at being able to pass the torch as oldest player on the Eastern League club.

“Man, I was the oldest player until you got here,” Stevens told the 39-year-old Nitkowski.

“How old are you?” Nitkowski asked.

“‘I’m 28,” replied Stevens, who since has been promoted to Triple-A Buffalo.

Said Nitkowski: “To be honest with you, when I first got here, everybody was really young and looked in really good shape. I haven’t been around professional guys in a long time. They all looked kind of big to me. From playing in Asia the last four years, and being around the high school kids the last four years that I’ve been training with, to get here, I was taken aback for a second. But it only takes a couple of days, and then things feel back to normal.”


Courtesy of Binghamton Mets
C.J. Nitkowski


Nitkowski auditioned for the Mets in spring training, but the organization did not sign him. He struggled to even get tryouts with other major league clubs. So he spent the first half of the season as a volunteer coach at an Atlanta high school along with fellow former major league pitcher Paul Byrd. Nitkowski would throw a few times a week with a neighbor, who happened to be a former University of Hartford catcher. And when he reached out to J.P. Ricciardi again in recent weeks, the Mets finally opted to sign him and assign him to the B-Mets.

Now Nitkowski is a Double-A player for the first time since 1995, a year after he was drafted in the first round out of St. John’s by the Cincinnati Reds.

So far, Nitkowski -- who now sports a sidearm delivery -- has made four relief appearances with Binghamton. In three innings, he has allowed one hit and two walks while striking out six. He had spent 2007 through 2010 pitching in Japan and South Korea, the final two of those years in the latter country as an overhand-throwing starting pitcher.

“I have all the confidence in the world I can be a lefty-on-lefty guy right now,” he said. “But you don’t want to just do one thing. You want to make sure they have confidence in you if they bring a pinch-hitter in or turn a switch-hitter around. The righty stuff, I’m still working on right now. The changeup is actually there. They really like the changeup a lot. It’s got to be on the plate a little more, be more consistent with it. The breaking ball is definitely there. And I’ve got enough movement on my fastball.”

Nitkowski acknowledged, “I’m not lighting up the radar gun anymore.” But he figures a mid-80s mph fastball is more than enough. He has watched and studied Pedro Feliciano, Clay Rapada and Javier Lopez have success in recent years with the dropdown style and without eye-popping velocity. Nitkowski even sought tutoring from former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson early last year because of Peterson’s success in converting Feliciano to a sidearm delivery with the Mets.

“There were a couple of times it would be real easy to say, 'Hey, look, I’m not going to get any workouts,'” Nitkowski said. “I’m watching and seeing all the reports that so-and-so is looking for a lefty. So I had my agent call and say, 'Can we just get a workout?' No. Not even a workout. It would shock me. I understand they hear my name and probably think I’m joking. But I knew where I was and I went off of what J.P. told me in February, where he was honest with me. He thought there was something there worth looking at. The timing just wasn’t right.

"So I kept pursuing it. But there were times where I was like, 'Maybe it’s not going to happen.' I texted J.P. a couple of weeks ago to check in. Right before I did that, I was starting to make plans to maybe go to independent ball. I was thinking I’d go to independent ball for a month and maybe strike lightning in a bottle, and if not be done with it.”

The fact that the Mets have faded from the wild-card race hurts Nitkowski's chances of appearing in the majors this season for the first time since 2005. After all, there is no need to call up a 39-year-old in September if the team is not in contention.

Still, Nitkowski believes this experience remains worthwhile.

“The goal for me was to come here and test it -- find a place where professional hitters were to test this sidearm out," he said. "So, for me, this way I don’t have to go into full-time baseball retirement without wondering, 'Would I have had a chance? Was it good enough?'

"I’ll be able to get my answer here.”

Organization leaders

Average: T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, .322; Eric Campbell, Binghamton, .315; Cam Maron, Savannah, .295; Fred Lewis, Buffalo, .292; Josh Rodriguez, Buffalo, .288; Josh Satin, Buffalo, .287; Wilmer Flores, Binghamton, .286; Juan Lagares, Binghamton, .284; Maikis De La Cruz, Kingsport, .282.

Homers: Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 18; Cory Vaughn, St. Lucie, 17; Travis Taijeron, St. Lucie, 16; Matt den Dekker, Buffalo, 15; Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 14.

RBI: Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 71; Wilmer Flores, Binghamton, 61; Dustin Lawley, Savannah, 58; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, 58.

Steals: Alonzo Harris Jr., St. Lucie, 28; Fred Lewis, Buffalo, 18; Juan Lagares, Binghamton, 17; Matt den Dekker, Buffalo, 16; Cory Vaughn, St. Lucie, 16.

ERA: Hansel Robles, Brooklyn, 2.04; Luis Mateo, Brooklyn, 2.08; Tyler Pill, St. Lucie, 2.35; Michael Fulmer, Savannah, 2.51; Rafael Montero, St. Lucie, 2.52; Rainy Lairy, Brooklyn, 2.72; Luis Cessa, Brooklyn, 2.78; Gabriel Ynoa, Brooklyn, 2.79; Collin McHugh, Buffalo, 2.95; Cory Mazzoni, Binghamton, 3.24.

Wins: Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 10; Gonzalez Germen, Binghamton, 10; Rafael Montero, St. Lucie, 10; Cory Mazzoni, Binghamton, 9; Tyler Pill, St. Lucie, 8.

Saves: Fernando Cabrera, Buffalo, 18; T.J. Chism, Savannah, 16; Adam Kolarek, Binghamton, 16; Adrian Rosario, Binghamton, 14; Robert Carson, Buffalo, 10.

Strikeouts: Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 117; Collin McHugh, Buffalo, 114; Matt Harvey, Buffalo, 112; Rafael Montero, St. Lucie, 105; Tyler Pill, St. Lucie, 95.

Short hops

• Savannah pitching coach Frank Viola will be excused to head to London this weekend, with minor league pitching coordinator Ron Romanick temporarily filling Viola’s role with the Gnats. Viola’s Olympian daughter Brittany is due to compete in the 10-meter platform diving event Aug. 8 and 9.

Bradley Marquez, the Mets’ 16th-round pick in 2011, is due to head to Texas Tech in coming days. Part of Marquez’s signing arrangement allows him to continue to play college football. Marquez, a 19-year-old center fielder, is hitting .269 (7-for-26) in eight games with Kingsport. Marquez is a wide receiver from Odessa, Texas.

Jenrry Mejia, reverting to a rotation role despite ultimately projecting as a reliever, tossed 57 pitches in three innings in his first start with Buffalo since June 9. Facing Indianapolis, Mejia allowed one run on four hits, three walks and a wild pitch while striking out three.

Lucas Duda has started four games in right field and one game in left field since a demotion to Buffalo. He is hitting .143 (3-for-21) with one RBI in five games. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is 2-for-5 with a double and three strikeouts since joining the Bisons.

• Right-hander Logan Verrett, last year’s third-round pick from Baylor, made his Florida State League debut Sunday with St. Lucie. Verrett limited Lakeland to two runs in 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision. He had posted a 3.06 ERA in 11 starts with Savannah.

• Left-hander Steven Matz, the Long Island native whose first pro appearance was delayed until this season because of a slow recovery from Tommy John surgery, has made three straight scoreless starts for Kingsport. Matz has limited opponents to five hits and eight walks while striking out 23 in 18 innings during that span.

Matz, from Stony Brook, isn’t the only Long Island product with a sizable scoreless streak intact. Reliever John Mincone has allowed only one run in 20 2/3 innings with the Brooklyn Cyclones this season. Mincone, who graduated from Half Hollow Hills East High School, has tossed 17 1/3 straight scoreless innings. Mincone, who turned 23 last week, originally was drafted by the Cubs in the 11th round in 2009, but ultimately was released. He pitched in the independent Frontier League last season.

Miguel Batista, who was released by the Mets and signed a minor league deal with the Braves, made his Triple-A Gwinnett debut Saturday at Charlotte. Batista, 41, allowed two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three in a 65-pitch effort spanning five innings.

• Right-handed reliever Erik Turgeon, released from Binghamton with a 7.40 ERA, signed with the Pirates and has been assigned to high-A Brandeton. A University of Connecticut product, the Mets originally drafted Turgeon in the 25th round in 2008.

• B-Mets infielder Michael Fisher retired.

• Left-handed reliever Robert Carson made his Triple-A debut Friday. He recorded his first International League save two days later. St. Lucie closer Adam Kolarek, an 11th-round pick in 2010 out of the University of Maryland, moved to Binghamton and earned his first Double-A save Tuesday.

Adam Rubin’s farm report appears Wednesdays during the regular season

Mets morning briefing 7.28.12

July, 28, 2012
7/28/12
6:23
AM ET
PHOENIX -- Jon Niese matched a career high by allowing eight runs, wasting homers by David Wright and Ike Davis, as the Mets lost to the Diamondbacks, 11-5, Friday night at Chase Field.

The Mets, who are now 2-12 since the All-Star break, send Chris Young (2-4, 3.91 ERA) to the mound Saturday. He opposes Ian Kennedy (8-8, 4.20) in the 8:10 p.m. ET game.

Saturday's news reports:

• Niese lamented an ill-advised and errant throw he made after fielding a squibber in what became a six-run second inning. Read game recaps in the Times, Record, Post, Newsday and Daily News.

Jason Bay slammed his right knee into a wall in foul territory making an inning-ending catch in the second on Jason Kubel's pop fly. Afterward, Bay had the knee wrapped, but minimized the injury. Terry Collins told Mike Puma in the Post that Mike Baxter eventually could supplant Bay as the regular left fielder.

• Top prospect Zack Wheeler is due to be promoted within the week to Triple-A. Team officials were debating whether Wheeler should start on the road for the Bisons, or make one more start with Double-A Binghamton so that his International League debut could come in Buffalo next weekend against Syracuse.

The Mets have no current plans to use Wheeler at the major league level this season, but columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post thinks that should be reconsidered. Writes Kernan:

Though general manager Sandy Alderson has said Wheeler would not appear in The Show this season, the good news is the Mets, according to sources, constantly are reevaluating the situation and the decision could be reversed.

Terry Collins is prepared to use R.A. Dickey on short rest assuming Sandy Alderson signs off. But the increased frequency of Dickey starts will not be implemented until the Mets return home from this three-city West Coast trip, a team insider told ESPNNewYork.com.

Matt Harvey said he awoke Friday morning and already had put his major league debut behind him. Harvey said his focus now is squarely on Tuesday's encore performance, which comes in San Francisco.

Keith Law liked what he viewed from Harvey on Thursday. Wrote Law at ESPN.com Insider:

Matt Harvey had top-of-the-rotation stuff on Thursday night in Arizona, with a plus fastball and slider combination that carved up Arizona Diamondbacks hitters. He was 94-98 mph for five innings with some arm-side run, hard enough to get it by hitters even though the pitch lacks any sink or downhill plane. The slider was toxic at 87-91 mph, a grade-70 pitch pretty much all outing, shorter like a cutter and breaking very late. He threw it down and in to left-handers in lieu of his changeup, which was solid at 87-89 mph with good arm speed but which he barely used.

He was casting his curveball early in the game but did throw several sharper ones, all 83-85 mph and when it was on, it was not only tough to hit but a pitch he could also throw for strikes. I've never seen Harvey throw this hard or with a slider this sharp, so he may have just been amped up for his first big league start, but if this is the 'new' Matt Harvey, Mets fans should be even more excited than they were before.

Harvey's delivery, a major weakness of his before his junior year in college, is even cleaner now than it was when he was drafted. He stays over the rubber longer than he did then, still gets out over his front side very well and gets his arm, always quick, into perfect position when his front foot lands. He did lose his arm slot in the sixth inning on Thursday and was no longer able to command the fastball, which the Mets' coaching staff picked up on pretty quickly, letting him face one more right-handed batter before pulling him.

Read more on Harvey in the Star-Ledger, Times, Daily News and Newsday.

• The Tigers, reportedly along with the Braves and Giants, have expressed interest in Scott Hairston. A team source told ESPNNewYork.com no trades were imminent, and added that any trade likely would have to return a player the Mets would control in 2013. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Frank Francisco allowed a leadoff double but picked up a save Thursday for Binghamton in his second rehab appearance with the Eastern League club. B-Mets manager Pedro Lopez told Lynn Worthy of the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin that Francisco again will appear with the B-Mets on Saturday. Baxter, meanwhile, went 1-for-4 and played a full game in left field with Buffalo. Both players are expected to be activated from the DL for the Mets series at San Francisco, which opens Monday.

Miguel Batista, released by the Mets this week, signed a minor league deal with the Braves and has been assigned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

• Dickey and Jon Rauch, both former Olympians, expressed disappointment the sport has been eliminated for the London Games, along with softball. "Baseball has long been one of those fringe sports in the Olympics," Dickey told Brian Costa in the Journal. "It is sad and I hate it. I wish it were different. But the truth of the matter is it doesn't hold the international acclaim in different counties that it does here, and because of that, you have to deal with it."

Mets first base coach Tom Goodwin also participated in the Olympics as a player, in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea.

Writes Anthony DiComo at MLB.com:

When he was an Olympic athlete in 1996, R.A. Dickey attended every event that he could. He was "front and center" when injured gymnast Kerri Strug stuck the landing on her final vault, helping the American women win gold in Atlanta. He was there when sprinter Michael Johnson set an Olympic record in the 400 meters. He attended the Opening Ceremonies alongside the men's basketball Dream Team. "I went to water-polo events, track-and-field events," Dickey said Friday, with the 2012 Opening Ceremonies in London airing on a clubhouse television behind him, "I just really tried to experience that part of it, and it was awesome."

The Olympics meant just as much to Rauch, whose gold medal from the 2000 Games spends most of its days locked away in a safe. Rauch said he continues to keep in touch with as many of his Olympic teammates as he can, though most are long retired from their playing days. "Being around the whole environment of the Opening Ceremonies, winning a gold medal -- pick something," said Rauch, who has an image of the Olympic rings tattooed on his left arm. "When you're involved in something like that, especially when it's your first time, your only time, you just remember all of it."

Dustin Martin's three-run homer and five-hit day helped lift Binghamton to a doubleheader sweep against Portland. Read Friday's full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: Which pitchers have recorded saves for the Mets this season?

Friday's answer: Jon Matlack is the former first-round pick to have the longest major league debut as a Met. Matlack tossed seven innings and allowed two runs in a no-decision against the Reds on July 11, 1971.

Report: Batista to Braves

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
1:14
PM ET
PHOENIX -- Released right-hander Miguel Batista has signed with the Atlanta Braves, Newsday's David Lennon tweeted.

It's not the first time this season the Braves have signed a Mets castoff. They inked D.J. Carrasco to a minor league deal, but also released him shortly thereafter.

Mets morning briefing 7.27.12

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
5:46
AM ET
PHOENIX -- Matt Harvey earned the win in his major league debut, tossing 5 1/3 scoreless innings as the Mets snapped a six-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"Electric stuff, for sure," Terry Collins labeled Harvey's performance. "Tremendous composure, I thought. Obviously, due to the velocity, the first four innings you could tell he was pretty juiced up. I haven't seen a 98 [mph pitch] out of a starting pitcher in quite some time. And I saw several out of him today. He's lived up to exactly what everybody has talked about. Now I want him to go out the next time and be a little more comfortable and pitch as effectively as he did today."

Jon Niese (7-4, 3.59 ERA) attempts to help the Mets build on Harvey's performance when he opposes right-hander Josh Collmenter (2-2, 3.82) in Game 2 of the four-game series tonight at 9:40 ET.

Friday's news reports:

• ESPN Stats & Information compiled this summary of Harvey's 11-strikeout outing, which set the franchise record for Ks in a major league debut:

Harvey became the first player in modern baseball history (since 1900) to strike out 10-plus batters and produce two hits as a batter in his major league debut. Also according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harvey's 11 strikeouts match the most in a major league debut with fewer than six innings pitched since 1900. Tim Hudson also had 11 strikeouts in 1999, in five innings.

Harvey:

- Worked his fastball up in the zone and above, throwing 44 of 52 fastballs to that location. The Diamondbacks went 1-for-7 with five strikeouts in at-bats ending with a fastball up in the zone and above.

- The fastball set up his secondary pitches -- the curveball and slider. Harvey threw 16 sliders and 13 curveballs (18 out of zone), leading the Diamondbacks to go 0-for-6 with four strikeouts against those pitches.

- Harvey finished at-bats when getting ahead in the count. The Diamondbacks went 0-for-12 with eight strikeouts.

Read ESPNNewYork.com's recap of Harvey's performance, including his reaction, here. Read game recaps in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Times, Daily News and Record.

• Writes columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post:

Harvey had plenty of support on the home front, even though this was a road game. His mom Jackie, his dad Ed, his sister Jocelyn and Aunt Kathy Lanuza were in attendance, along with about 15 other members of the Harvey rooting section, including three coaches from North Carolina, where Harvey starred in college. They were seated about 30 rows up from the Mets dugout. “This is unbelievable,’’ said Ed Harvey, an accomplished high school and junior college baseball coach in Connecticut, in his 40th year of coaching, now an assistant at UConn-Avery Point. “To do as well as he’s done tonight, there are no words. I’ve been to a lot of games in my life but when I sat in my seat tonight it was like whoa.’’

• Assistant GM John Ricco acknowledged the Mets' second-half swoon has impacted how the organization is approaching Tuesday's trade deadline. “We’re not as aggressive as we were a couple of weeks ago on the buying, but if there is an upgrade there, we would definitely consider it,” Ricco told Mike Puma in the Post. “We’re talking to everybody, but we don’t have a big name we’re looking to [trade] or looking to acquire.”

Jenrry Mejia is headed back to Triple-A Buffalo's rotation, even though he continues to project as a reliever in the majors, a team official told ESPNNewYork.com.

Lucas Duda started in right field in his first minor league game since a demotion to Buffalo. He went 0-for-4 with a walk. Collins told Buffalo manager Wally Backman to play Duda in the corner outfield positions, but move Duda to first base if he struggles in the outfield. The reasoning: Duda is in the minors to focus on his hitting, so he need not be distracted by fielding issues. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Left-hander Steven Matz, the Mets' top pick in the 2009 draft, made his third straight scoreless start for Kingsport. The Stony Brook, L.I., native has limited opponents to five hits in 18 innings during that span. Read Thursday's full minor league recap here.

Frank Francisco is due to make his second rehab appearance for Binghamton tonight as he returns from a strained left oblique. Collins, meanwhile, said it's realistic for Mike Baxter to be activated from the DL on Monday in San Francisco.

• The Mets put Wednesday's incident between Tim Byrdak, Josh Thole and Dan Warthen behind them. Read more in the Record.

• The Mets officially released Miguel Batista.

Brian Costa in the Journal makes the case that a collapse now was better than one after the trading deadline. Writes Costa:

It would have been far worse had the Mets played well through the end of July, traded for someone like Francisco Rodriguez and then collapsed in August. Now, both the front office and fans can view this team for what it is: not a very bad team, but not a very good one; a team equipped to compete, but not a team built to contend. Not this year. The counterargument is that general manager Sandy Alderson could have changed all that if only he would have anted up for an impact reliever sooner. For weeks, fans have beseeched him to do something. But if anything, the last two weeks have demonstrated that the Mets are not just one player away from being a playoff team.

TRIVIA: Which Mets first-round pick logged the most innings in his major league debut with the organization?

Thursday's answer: Sidearm reliever Joe Smith went to Cleveland in the three-team deal that landed J.J. Putz and Sean Green with the Mets from Seattle.

Mets release Batista

July, 26, 2012
7/26/12
12:15
PM ET
PHOENIX -- Miguel Batista has been released by the Mets.

There was some expectation Batista would have pitched in Triple-A Buffalo's rotation.

Mets morning briefing 7.23.12

July, 23, 2012
7/23/12
5:57
AM ET

Kim Klement/US Presswire
With eight days until the trading deadline, it's worth considering whether the Mets ought to trade Scott Hairston and Tim Byrdak with an eye toward the future.
The Amazin's second-half swoon continued with an 8-3, 11-inning loss Sunday as the Dodgers swept a series in Queens for the first time since 2002 and dropped the Mets under .500 for the first time this season, at 47-48.

Afterward, the Mets announced prospect Matt Harvey would be promoted and join the rotation Thursday at Arizona. Harvey is due at Citi Field on Monday, along with Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Darth Vader. (More later.)

Harvey technically will be a member of the "taxi squad" today -- in uniform pregame, but inactive. The Mets then will make a roster move sometime before Tuesday's game. By activating Harvey early, he will be allowed to throw a bullpen session with pitching coach Dan Warthen this afternoon at Citi Field and get acclimated to major league surroundings in advance of his debut against the Diamondbacks.

Harvey tweeted Sunday night: "Thank you everyone for the support! Such an amazing feeling. Heading to the airport and NYC early in the morning."

Harvey arrives amid a freefall. The Mets are 1-8 since the All-Star break, with the first-place Nats now coming to Citi Field for three games. The Mets then embark on a trip to Arizona, San Francisco and San Diego.

The Mets have been notorious second-half collapse artists in recent years. They were 31-40 in the second half last season. In 2010, they were 31-43 post-All-Star break. In 2009, it was 28-47. And folks certainly remember '07 and '08 all too well, even though the Mets actually had winning records both of those second halves.

"It's very disappointing," Terry Collins said about the current swoon. "We're not happy with the way things have gone the last 10 days, so we've got to buckle down and get after it and get back over. We've got a tough few games coming up. We've got to pick ourselves up and get ready for them."

Monitor this today, too: Fan-favorite Jordany Valdespin started over Jason Bay on Sunday. Will Collins sit Bay a second straight day against a right-hander and use Valdespin again in left field? It bears watching.

As for the next eight days, the Mets clearly no longer are in the position to be aggressive buyers before the July 31 trade deadline, if they ever intended to be in that category. They are now five games behind the Braves, who occupy the NL's second wild-card position.

Will the Mets turn around and sell? After all, Scott Hairston particularly, as well as Tim Byrdak, would be desirable pieces for contenders.

A team official last week insisted the Mets would not dismantle, citing how the club held Jose Reyes last year in part to keep things competitive. But it's worth noting the Mets traded Carlos Beltran last July 28 when they had a 52-51 record and were four games out of the wild-card lead. An AL executive said after Sunday's sweep about the Mets trading Hairston and/or Byrdak before July 31: "I think they will."

Monday's news reports:

Courtesy of New York MetsMatt Harvey


• After J.P. Ricciardi watched Harvey start for Triple-A Buffalo last Monday, the Mets bypassed the 2010 first-round pick for a weekend start against the Dodgers that instead went to Miguel Batista. Batista then bombed, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings Saturday. The 41-year-old Batista was designated for assignment before Sunday's game, clearing roster space for the promotion of Elvin Ramirez to assist a bullpen that Batista helped overtax.

Harvey seemed a no-brainer to step into that Dillon Gee/Batista rotation spot, especially given the lack of alternatives. But then Harvey complicated matters by stumbling Saturday with Buffalo. Harvey allowed six runs on seven hits, two walks and a hit batter, and surrendered a pair of homers, in five innings during the Bisons' 11-0 loss to Charlotte (White Sox) as minor league pitching coordinator Ron Romanick watched.

For the season with Buffalo, Harvey is 7-5 with a 3.68 ERA in 20 starts. He has allowed 97 hits, walked 48 (one intentionally) and hit six batters while striking out 112 in 110 innings. The strikeout total ranks second in the International League, trailing only Columbus' Corey Kluber (118).

With Harvey's addition, the rotation through one turn looks like this:

Nationals at Citi Field
Monday: RHP Chris Young (2-4, 4.11 ERA) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (7-6, 2.35)
Tuesday: RHP R.A. Dickey (13-1, 2.84) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (12-5, 3.32)
Wednesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-3, 5.85) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 2.85)

Diamondbacks at Chase Field
Thursday: Harvey vs. LHP Wade Miley (11-5, 3.02)
Friday: LHP Jon Niese (7-4, 3.59) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (2-2, 3.82)

Excluding supplemental picks, Harvey will become the 10th pitcher selected by the Mets in the first round to debut in the majors with the organization, joining:

Year drafted, Player, Opponent, Debut Date, Decision, Line
1965, Les Rohr vs. Dodgers, Sept. 19, 1967, W, 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER
1967, Jon Matlack at Reds, July 11, 1971, ND, 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER
1969, Randy Sterling at Expos, Sept. 16, 1974, W, 5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER
1979, Tim Leary, at Cubs April 12, 1981, ND, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER
1982, Dwight Gooden at Astros, April 7, 1984, W, 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER
1994, Paul Wilson vs. Cardinals, April 4, 1996, ND, 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER
2001, Aaron Heilman vs. Marlins, June 26, 2003, L, 6 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 1 ER
2004, Philip Humber vs. Nationals, Sept. 24, 2006, ND, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER (relief)
2005, Mike Pelfrey vs. Marlins, July 8, 2006, W, 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER

Mets first-round picks Scott Kazmir, Billy Traber and Cliff Speck debuted elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the trickle-up may very well mean top prospect Zack Wheeler gets a promotion from Double-A Binghamton to Buffalo.

Read more on Harvey's impending major league debut in the Star-Ledger, Post, Times and Newsday.

• The Mets rallied to tie Sunday's game in the bottom of the ninth on Ike Davis' run-scoring "groundout." (Replays suggested he was safe.) But L.A. posted five runs in the 11th against Ramon Ramirez to notch the series-sweeping victory. On a positive note: Daniel Murphy went 4-for-5 and was 9-for-11 with three RBIs and a walk in the series. Since June 26, Murphy is hitting .440 (33-for-75) with 18 RBIs and 16 extra-base hits in 20 games. Read game recaps in the Journal, Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News and Times.

• Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post:

Another team’s scout, in attendance at yesterday’s game, had a better feel for the situation when he said: “Terry’s done a great job with these guys. This team isn’t very good.” Agreed that Collins has run this team admirably, but I’ll concur even more with the scout’s second thought. These Mets played over their heads in the first half, riding the backs of three elite performances -- those of R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana and Wright. Santana is on the disabled list now, with no return date. Dickey has slowed down after his brilliant beginning. Wright? He remains outstanding, which is great news for the Mets regardless of the overall team record. There just aren’t enough pieces surrounding Wright, however -- Jason Bay fittingly made the final out yesterday, as a pinch-hitter -- and the team’s run of good luck has run out.

• At Sunday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, those gathered were treated to a video tribute to the late Gary Carter as part of the program. Carter's widow Sandy attended.


Al Bello/Getty Images
Mets-fan Snooki is due to be at Citi Field today.


• Snooki, a bona fide Mets fan, as well as fiancÚ Jionni LaValle will be at Citi Field on Monday afternoon. She will be taping segments of an MLB.com show that is due to appear in August. Tonight also is the second-annual Star Wars night at Citi Field. Darth Vader, Jedi and Stormtroopers will be at the stadium.

Mike Baxter went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch Sunday with Binghamton. Baxter (displaced collarbone/fractured rib cartilage) played a full game in left field, marking his first time playing in the field during an eight-day-old rehab assignment.

Frank Francisco (oblique) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Sunday at Citi Field and should begin a rehab assignment shortly. "I'm trying to do whatever I can to be there, but it's a process," Francisco said, according to Tom Pedulla in Newsday. "I've got to take the time and play it safe. I don't want to miss the rest of the season."

• Savannah right-hander Domingo Tapia took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before allowing a leadoff single. Savannah ultimately beat Rome, 5-1. With Buffalo, manager Wally Backman was ejected and not around to see the finish in a 10-8 loss to Charlotte. Garrett Olson allowed six runs (four earned) as he stepped into the Triple-A rotation following Hefner's promotion. Jenrry Mejia tossed two scoreless relief innings in the loss, recording two strikeouts and allowing two hits. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.

Jared Diamond in the Journal notes that while the Mets link Johan Santana's DL trip to the sprained right ankle he suffered in his final first-half start, Santana had begun to struggle well before that. In the start immediately after his June 1 no-hitter, Santana allowed six runs against the Yankees (and the fault was placed on extra rest that disrupted Santana's routine). Writes Diamond:

Among the 11 other pitchers to throw a no-hitter since 2010, only one pitched worse over this long of a stretch immediately afterward: Philip Humber posted a 7.38 ERA in his first eight starts following his perfect game in April. In general, pitchers who throw no-hitters -- especially ones as talented as Santana -- tend to stay on course after the no-no. But perhaps Santana broke that trend because of his unusually high pitch count. In fact, only one pitcher since 2010 required more pitches to throw a no-hitter than Santana: Edwin Jackson, who threw a whopping 149 pitches in his 2010 effort for the Diamondbacks. He struggled immediately afterward, pitching to a 7.24 ERA in his next five starts before regaining his form.

Andy Martino in the Daily News says there is racial harmony among players in the Mets clubhouse.

David Satriano in the Post speaks with Niese about the southpaw's Sunday performance.

TRIVIA: For which team did former Mets first-round pick Tim Leary appear in the most games?

Sunday's answer: The Mets slipped below .500 for the duration of the season last year on Aug. 11, when the dropped to 58-59 entering a series at Arizona. They subsequently were swept by the Diamondbacks.

Mets designate Batista for assignment

July, 22, 2012
7/22/12
11:07
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The Mets have designated right-handed starter Miguel Batista for assignment, and called up righty reliever Elvin Ramirez from Triple-A Buffalo.

"Hopefully he clears [waivers] and decides to stay and goes down and pitches a little bit more," manager Terry Collins said Sunday before the Mets faced the Dodgers.

Batista, 41, is 1-3 with a 4.82 ERA this year. He last pitched Saturday, earning the loss against the Dodgers after surrendering four earned runs in three innings. He's appeared in 39 games for the Mets over the last two years, both as a starter and out of the bullpen.

"It was very tough," Collins said of the decision. "Miguel's done a great job here. He's a first-class guy and brings a lot to the party as far as his clubhouse presence, especially that Dominican presence with [Jordany] Valdespin and a couple young guys. He's been great helping those guys mature at this level and he's done a good job."

With Batista out of the fold, the Mets will now have to find a starter for Thursday's game in Arizona as Batista was lined up to pitch. While Collins would not divulge the candidates for that start, he acknowledged that top prospect Matt Harvey is being considered for the start. Harvey would be pitching on regular rest Thursday if the team promoted him.

Jeremy Hefner will pitch Wednesday afternoon against the Nationals.

"We're trying to get through the next couple of days due to what's happened the last two days and we've had to overuse [the bullpen]," Collins said. "We're going to continue to make sure we continue to have fresh arms down there. Thursday to me is a long way away right now."

Harvey, 23, struggled Saturday night against Charlotte by giving up six runs and seven hits in five innings. Collins said Triple-A Buffalo manager Wally Backman described Harvey's start Saturday as one where his head was in New York instead of Buffalo, as the youngster had been considered to start Saturday's game against the Dodgers instead of Batista.

Collins said one can't factor those performances into the equation when determining if Harvey will be the starter. Harvey's now 7-5 with a 3.68 ERA on the year.

"You got to throw those starts out. Part of the whole thing is being here in New York where everything is a story," Collins said. "The Matt Harveys become the story. He's not naive to know people are there, people are talking about it in Buffalo. You're the guy. You're going to be the next guy. He may be or he may not be. As a young guy trying to get to the big leagues you certainly understand why that focus is going in different directions right now."

The manager added that it doesn't matter to him whether Harvey would make his first start at home or on the road, but he did talk up pitching at Citi Field.

"What a great place to be a pitcher and come pitch here. It's a perfect pitcher's park. It's fair," Collins said. "Not a place where you hit the ball out of the ball park easily. It's a fair ball park. It doesn't matter to me. When the time comes, it will be because he's the guy."

Sunday Mets lineup: 'Spin in ... Batista out

July, 22, 2012
7/22/12
10:04
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Jordany Valdespin, who has 20 RBIs in a mere 82 at-bats, starts in left field on Sunday over Jason Bay. Kirk Nieuwenhuis also is in the lineup against Dodgers right-hander Nathan Eovaldi as the Mets try to avoid the sweep.

Miguel Batista has been designated for assignment to clear roster space for the promotion of reliever Elvin Ramirez. Jeremy Hefner will start Wednesday, with Thursday in Arizona to be determined -- presumably between Matt Harvey, Collin McHugh or another candidate.

It marks the third time this season, and fifth time in franchise history, the Mets have used an all-homegrown starting lineup. The Mets are 4-0 in those games.

Ruben Tejada, ss
Jordany Valdespin, lf
David Wright, 3b
Ike Davis, 1b
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Lucas Duda, rf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
Josh Thole, c
Jon Niese, lhp

Mets morning briefing 7.22.12

July, 22, 2012
7/22/12
9:24
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The Mets continued their skid to start the second half as they lost 8-5 to the Dodgers on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. The Mets have lost seven of their first eight games since the All-Star break and have fallen to .500.

Sunday's news reports:

• Read game recaps in the Daily News, Post, Star-Ledger, The Record, New York Times and Newsday.

• The Mets placed lefty Johan Santana on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain. Santana has a 6.54 ERA since he threw the franchise's first no-hitter on June 1. Santana said if the decision was up to him he would like to continue pitching. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, The Record, New York Times and Newsday.

• ESPNNewYork.com's Johnette Howard writes how the Mets shouldn't look for a quick fix on the trade market with Santana out and just wait for the lefty to return. Writes Howard:

It's the right thing for the Mets to do, even if fans will be breathing down their neck like a hot draft from hell, screaming for them to do something to stop them from sinking even further in the standings than they have the past week.

Tim Smith of the Daily News writes about the alarming rate that the Mets are losing pitchers and how it might be time to turn to heralded prospect Matt Harvey. Writes Smith:

Let the Matt Harvey watch begin. The Mets will most certainly need his arm at Citi Field, if for nothing else than to appease a restless fan base that wants the team to remain viable and make a playoff run. That will be tough to do as the 8-5 loss dropped the Mets (47-47) to .500 for the first time since May 4.

Santana’s shutdown comes at the worst time — 10 days before the trade deadline and with the Mets starting the day seven games down in the NL East and 4.5 games back in the wild card. They need all arms on deck.


• GM Sandy Alderson labeled the Mets as buyers as the trade deadline approaches.

Miguel Batista was tagged with the loss Saturday but said again that he believes the Mets are a better team than the first-place Nationals. Read more about Batista's start in the Post and Newsday.

R.A. Dickey made his first relief appearance of the year but yielded a two-run homer in the ninth inning that put the Mets behind 8-5.

Chris Capuano, a former Met, won his 10th game of the season by picking up the victory on Saturday. The Mets did not match the two-year, $10-million deal he was offered by the Dodgers this past offseason.

• The Mets will call up reliever Elvin Ramirez for Sunday's game. The Mets could part ways with Batista or possibly demote Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Read more in the Post.

• Daily News columnist Bill Madden says the Mets have too many holes to fill as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. Writes Madden:

By contrast, the Mets’ five straight losses after the break merely served to magnify their many flaws and reinforce the notion that they were first-half pretenders whom Terry Collins was able to get to play over their heads while the consensus preseason NL East favorites, the Phillies and Miami Marlins, consistently played under theirs.

• Harvey, who could be in line for a promotion later this week, had a rough outing on Saturday night, surrendering six runs on seven hits.

• Former Mets broadcaster Tim McCarver talked about memorable Mets games.

• The Record looks at the twitter account of former third baseman Howard Johnson.

TRIVIA: As the Mets fell to .500 on Saturday, at what date last year did the team fall below .500 for good?

Saturday's answer: Tom Seaver holds the record for consecutive decisions with 16 straight wins from 1969-70.

Batista won't backtrack, says Mets are best

July, 21, 2012
7/21/12
6:13
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The Mets have lost eight of their last nine games and dropped to .500 for the first time since May 4.

But despite all of that, Miguel Batista still thinks they are a better team than the first-place Nationals.

Brad Penner/US PresswireMiguel Batista lasted three innings and took the loss.


"Like I said, Washington is playing better than us," Batista said after the Mets lost 8-5 to the Dodgers on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field, "but I don't believe they're better than us.

"Their bullpen has better numbers, but one by one, when you match every player, we're supposed to be better than them."

Batista, who needed 81 pitches to get through three innings of four-run, five-hit ball on Saturday afternoon, said earlier this week that the Mets were the best team in baseball.

"We just need to do it. We have a great team, we just have to play like it," Batista said.

The Mets (47-47) trail Washington (53-39) by seven games for the top spot in the National League East. They recently lost starters Dillon Gee and Johan Santana to injury, and are trying to patch together their pitching staff. The Mets rank last in bullpen ERA (4.95) and 13-22 against left-handed starters this season.

"We've hit our losing streak, we just haven't hit our winning streak," said R.A. Dickey, who gave up an eighth-inning, two-run homer to Juan Uribe in his first official appearance out of the bullpen since April 17, 2011. "Hopefully we can hang on and churn a few out in a row.

"We haven't been able to get to a place where we win eight out of 10 or seven out of eight, and hopefully that's coming."

Said Terry Collins: "We've got to keep fighting. Our clubhouse is filled with guys who understand. We're doing the best we can right now, and it's just not good enough."

Rapid Reaction: Mets 9, Nats 5

July, 19, 2012
7/19/12
3:39
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WHAT IT MEANS: Maybe Miguel Batista, who starts Saturday if you had not heard, was on to something.

Batista proclaimed the Mets better than the Nationals, and every other major league team, during a postgame interview Wednesday. The Mets, fueled by David Wright’s first multi-homer game of the season, then stated that case with a 9-5 win against Washington on Thursday afternoon.

Behind Wright’s five-RBI performance, the Mets snapped a six-game losing streak and salvaged the finale of a second-half-opening trip to Atlanta and D.C. They also avoided dipping to .500 for the first time since May 4.

R.A. Dickey (13-1) topped Gio Gonzalez in a battle of the NL’s co-wins leaders. In fact, Gonzalez (12-5) had his shortest outing this season, allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings. The Mets built a 9-1 lead in the fourth after Gonzalez's departure. Dickey was charged with four runs (three earned) on 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Josh Edgin coaxed Bryce Harper to fly out to right-center to end the eighth with the Nats having pulled within five runs and the bases loaded. Bobby Parnell surrendered a ninth-inning run when Roger Bernadina narrowly beat out a two-out ground ball to second for an infield single.

Wright opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the first and was intentionally walked in the third inning. He then delivered a three-run homer in the fourth against Craig Stammen. Coupled with a ninth-inning homer Wednesday against Tyler Clippard in a comeback bid that fell a run short, Wright homered in three straight at-bats for the second time in his career.

He also went deep in three straight at-bats against the Yankees from May 19-20, 2007 -- with three intentional walks interspersed. The final homer during that stretch also came against Clippard, after a pair the previous day against Mike Myers.

Thursday marked the 18th multi-homer game of Wright’s career, passing Carlos Beltran for second on the franchise’s all-time list. Darryl Strawberry holds the Mets record with 22 multi-homer games.

Ike Davis also homered against Gonzalez, on a shot to open the second inning. Wright and Davis are tied for the team lead with 14 homers.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets return home to face the Los Angeles Dodgers. Johan Santana (6-6, 3.59 ERA) opposes right-hander Aaron Harang (6-5, 3.53) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. opener. Daughtry performs postgame.

Mets morning briefing 7.19.12

July, 19, 2012
7/19/12
8:33
AM ET
WASHINGTON -- David Wright and Jason Bay (yes, Jason Bay) had solo homers in the ninth, but the Mets' comeback fell short in a 4-3 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday night in D.C.

Now, R.A. Dickey (12-1) must top Gio Gonzalez (12-4) in a battle of the NL's wins leaders for the Mets to halt a six-game losing streak and avoid returning to Citi Field with a winless second-half-opening trip to Atlanta and D.C.

Thursday's news reports:

Terry Collins called a pregame team meeting Wednesday to rally his team. The manager suggested it primarily was spurred by Pedro Beato's postgame comments Tuesday, which seemed to question whether Josh Thole could have blocked a game-ending wild pitch. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Record.

Miguel Batista, who has been selected to start Saturday's game against the Dodgers at Citi Field over Matt Harvey, offered some bullish comments after Wednesday's loss. After allowing the Nats' final two runs in two-thirds of an inning on the day a starting pitcher normally would throw a bullpen session, Batista suggested the Mets are the best team in the majors. His right leg, which took a glancing blow on a comebacker, is fine, he suggested.

Mike Puma in the Post reported Harvey could debut as soon as next Thursday's road-trip opener at Arizona if Batista is a bust against L.A. Puma suggested one reason the Mets went to Batista first is because he would be the likely roster casualty for Harvey. And, if Harvey struggled, the Mets potentially would have lost Batista and not had a viable fallback.

Chris Young was flawless in a scoreless duel with Jordan Zimmermann until the sixth inning, when Adam LaRoche delivered a two-run homer on a pitch that actually was off the plate. "There's no satisfaction tonight. We lost the game," Young said. "We needed a win, and I didn't get it done. ... I didn't think it was a bad pitch. It wasn't like I missed my spot or left something over the plate that he punished. He hit a decent pitch." The Mets' deficit swelled to three runs once Batista allowed a two-run double to Steve Lombardozzi. Batista had fallen behind in the count, 2-0, and put a ball over the middle of the plate. Read Wednesday's game recaps in the Post, Record, Newsday, Daily News, Times and Journal.

Jeurys Familia limited Toledo to one run and three hits in a career-high eight innings, but Triple-A Buffalo lost in extra innings to the Mud Hens. With St. Lucie, Mike Baxter went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts as the DH in the fourth day of a maximum 20-day rehab assignment. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

• Bay actually went 2-for-4 with the ninth-inning solo homer. Pregame, Collins was explaining why Bay -- and not Jordany Valdespin -- got the start. Valdespin, the would-be hero of Tuesday's game with a three-run pinch-hit homer before things went awry, this time struck out against the same pitcher, Tyler Clippard, for the final out. Read more on Bay in the Daily News.

Jon Rauch had his knees drained before the series opener and was unavailable Tuesday. He returned to game action Wednesday and pitched a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts. Writes Anthony DiComo at MLB.com:

Rauch said he was in "quite a bit of pain" Tuesday due to his knees filling up with fluid, "to the point where I could barely even walk." Around game time, a doctor came to the clubhouse to drain both knees and give Rauch a cortisone injection, which reduced the pain. Because of the procedure, Collins believed that Rauch was unavailable in the 10th inning Tuesday -- even if Rauch disagreed. "I could have pitched," Rauch said. "I could have pitched through pain. It wouldn't have been the first time." Rauch has undergone surgeries to both knees in his career and endured arthritis for years, prompting him to receive an injection of synthetic cartilage on July 8. But he had a bad reaction to the procedure and his knees filled up with fluid, which a doctor drained Tuesday.

• The Mets are aiming for Frank Francisco (oblique) to begin a rehab assignment next Friday, so the closer should miss the upcoming homestand against the Dodgers and Nationals.

• VP Paul DePodesta, who oversees the farm system and draft, spoke about Jenrry Mejia's future role, expectations for Harvey, Zack Wheeler's innings limit and sleeper prospects in the system during a Q&A with ESPNNewYork.com. Read Part I and Part 2.

• Dickey has allowed five runs apiece in three of his past four starts. He tells Tom Pedulla in Newsday: "During the course of the 162-game season, every starter, whether it is Justin Verlander or whoever it may be, has to weather some storms and not overthink things. That's when you get in trouble."

Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News about the importance of Dickey's outing against the Nats:

Somehow, he has lost the touch, getting smacked around in three of his last four starts to the tune of 15 earned runs. Dickey doesn’t seem to know why the knuckler has flattened out of late, but if he can’t find the feel that made him mostly unhittable for three months, the Mets are dead. If Dickey can’t deliver a win, it will feel like they are dead. Two days ago it was none other than Terry Collins who said this was a crucial series for the Mets, as much for their psyche as what it could mean in the standings. “We need to come out of this series feeling good about ourselves,” Collins said. “Whether that’s one, two, or three wins, we need to come out of it feeling like we’re still competing.” Collins apparently didn’t consider the possibility of zero wins.

Read more in the Times.

• On the trade front:

David Lennon in Newsday reports the Mets have targeted Oakland reliever Grant Balfour.

Sandy Alderson tells Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger: “We’re not interested in doing something just to create the impression that we’re doing something." McCullough reports the Mets have scouted Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez, San Diego’s Huston Street, Kansas City’s Jonathan Broxton and Houston’s Brett Myers.

Writes Brian Costa in the Journal:

According to people familiar with their thinking, the Mets are targeting a closer-type, with three pitchers in particular topping their wish list: Milwaukee's Francisco Rodriguez, Houston's Brett Myers and San Diego's Huston Street. But the Padres are said to "have no plans" to trade Street, their All-Star closer, and are not even listening to offers at this point. And the Brewers just made the former Met Rodriguez their closer, replacing the struggling John Axford, so it's not clear whether he'll be on the market. Myers, the Astros' 31-year-old closer, appears to be the most attainable of the three at the moment. But the high end of the relief market is a slim one. ...

They've talked to the Athletics about Grant Balfour, but their interest in him is described as tepid. And they've talked to the Padres about setup man Luke Gregerson, who entered Wednesday with a 3.32 ERA in 44 appearances. But the Mets balked at San Diego's request for Daniel Murphy in such a deal, according to a person with knowledge of the talks.

Cody Derespina in Newsday recaps Alderson's trade history with the Mets.

Michael Salfino in the Journal notes Harvey has had more Triple-A seasoning than most college pitchers who fit his profile. Writes Salfino:

Harvey has already pitched 105 innings in Triple-A Buffalo since 2011, compiling a 3.34 ERA and striking out over a batter per inning. The average Triple A-stay of the 20 active pitchers drafted out of college in the first 15 overall picks since 2005 is just 22.8 innings, according to Stats, LLC.. And seven didn't even stop there at all before proceeding directly to the majors. The White Sox had all-star lefty Chris Sale -- drafted six spots after Harvey -- toss a mere 6.3 Triple-A innings before calling him up for good. The Nationals gave Stephen Strasburg a 33.3-inning layover. Tim Lincecum pitched just 31 innings at the highest minor league level before winning the Cy Young Award in 2008.

• Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record writes about the fall of Lenny Dykstra. Writes Klapisch:

The idea of Dykstra in an orange jumpsuit seems impossible to those who remember the fearless ballplayer who took on the world in a 5-foot-9 frame. But that person is “gone,” said Darryl Strawberry. “That Lenny has been gone for a long time.” Speaking by telephone Wednesday, Darryl echoed the sentiment of most ’80s-era Mets, acknowledging the depths of Dykstra’s crimes, yet somehow still feeling sorry for him. “Mentally, Lenny just isn’t the same person. He doesn’t have the same mental capacity as he did when he was playing,” Strawberry said. “Whatever Lenny put in his body, it changed his personality.”

TRIVIA: In what stadium did Wright make his major league debut?

Wednesday's answer: The Braves' Diory Hernandez was at third base and scored when D.J. Carrasco balked in the winning run at Turner Field on June 16, 2011.

Batista, Saturday starter, says Mets 'best'

July, 18, 2012
7/18/12
10:49
PM ET
WASHINGTON -- Despite Miguel Batista surrendering a costly two-run double to Steve Lombardozzi, which turned out to be the decisive runs in the Mets' 4-3 loss to Washington on Wednesday night, Terry Collins reiterated that Batista is the organization choice for Saturday's start against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"We thought tonight, with who was coming up, that it was good to get him an inning, to get him ready for Saturday," Collins said. "You know, he's pitched good when he starts (1-1, 4.00 ERA in four starts). Maybe it's getting ready. Maybe it's the pregame prep that makes him pitch better. I can't answer that just now. We're going into Saturday knowing this is when he's had the most success. We're going to see how he does."


Joy R. Absalon/US Presswire
Miguel Batista, in slight hyperbole, declared the Mets the best team in the majors.


Batista, who said he was uninjured when a comebacker grazed the outside of his right leg during the seventh inning, went on to say that the Mets are the top team in the majors if only they believe in themselves -- better than than the Nats.

"Our team is going through a bad stretch right now," Batista said. "But my personal belief is we're way better than our numbers are. Baseball is living proof that who you might not expect might be there in October. I know a lot of people didn't expect us to be as good as we have this year. But I believe this team is way, way better than what it's been playing. And regardless of the fact what other people might think, October is not here yet. We'll see at the end of the season. ...

"Right now they're playing good baseball, but I don't believe they're a better team than us," Batista continued, referring to the Nats. "They're playing great baseball. But better team? I believe we're the better team. We just have to play as we're supposed to. Every team goes through a bad stretch, from the greatest to the worst. I remember I told Terry two month ago: 'I haven't seen a team better than us.' ... We just have to believe how good we are and just go out there and perform. I believe we are the best team in baseball. We just have to play like one. That's what we're not doing."

Collins had held a pregame meeting to pump up his Mets, who now have lost six straight. The manager added that no players spoke during the meeting.

"I said, 'Quit worrying about who we don't have. You worry about who's sitting in this room, because this is who has gotten us here. This is what's going to have to move forward,'" Collins said. "There are no saviors. We're going to have to make sure that these guys understand they've got to just continue to battle and battle and battle and get out of this and go win six in a row. That's the only way you can play.

"As you guys know, one of the things I thought that's been a key here is that we've had a great clubhouse. And anytime things aren't going well, all of a sudden you can have some issues in there. We addressed them today.

"Just to keep battling, pretty much," Collins continued, referring to his message. "And one thing I want these guys to understand: There's accountability here, and we don't point fingers at anybody. We all stand up and when things aren't going well we take our licking. We watch each others' backs and keep moving forward."

Rapid Reaction: Nats 4, Mets 3

July, 18, 2012
7/18/12
10:05
PM ET
WHAT IT MEANS: Like Jon Niese the day before him, the Mets gave Chris Young no margin for error. And once Young served up a two-run homer in the sixth inning to Adam LaRoche to break a scoreless tie, the Mets were en route to a 4-3 loss against Washington on Wednesday night.

David Wright and Jason Bay had solo homers in the ninth to pull the Mets within a run, but the comeback fell short as Jordany Valdespin struck out to end it in a rematch with Tyler Clippard.

The Mets’ sixth straight defeat came after a Terry Collins-called afternoon meeting with players. The Mets remained winless in the second half.

They will need R.A. Dickey to top fellow 12-game winner Gio Gonzalez on Thursday afternoon to salvage the final game of the six-game trip to Atlanta and D.C.

The Nats have not swept the Mets in a three-game series in D.C. since Sept. 24-27, 2007 -- during the height of that season’s historic collapse.

With Wednesday’s loss, the Mets (46-45) dropped a season-high eight games behind the first-place Nats in the NL East. They also dipped to one game over .500 for the first time since May 5, when they were 14-13.

Saturday starter Miguel Batista offered little encouragement there are brighter days ahead this weekend. Working the seventh inning on what would be a starting pitcher’s normal bullpen day, he allowed a pair of two-out singles in the seventh, the latter ricocheting off his leg. After a visit from the trainer and a warm-up pitch, Batista served up a two-run double to Steve Lombardozzi as Washington grabbed a 4-1 lead.

Young actually had opened the top of the sixth in a scoreless game by doubling against Jordan Zimmermann. But Ruben Tejada flied out in foul territory down the right-field line, Daniel Murphy grounded out and Young was stranded at third base when Wright flied out to right center.

Young allowed just the two-run homer in six innings. Niese, in the series opener, had departed trailing 1-0 after seven innings, with the lone damage coming on Tyler Moore’s homer in what became a 10-inning loss.

BAY WATCH: Bay went 2-for-4 with a homer in his second game since returning from the disabled list. Bay singled in the fifth inning against Zimmermann. Facing left-hander Tom Gorzelanny in the seventh with Lucas Duda on second base and the Mets trailing by two runs, Bay grounded out to shortstop for the second out.

Andres Torres did follow with an RBI single to right to pull the Mets within 2-1, but Torres was thrown out at second base on the play to end the inning. It was the latest in a litany of times Torres has been retired on the bases.

WHAT’S NEXT: Dickey, who has allowed five earned runs apiece in three of his past four starts, opposes Gonzalez (12-4, 2.93 ERA). First pitch: 12:35 p.m. Thursday at Nationals Park.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
15 4.09 151 202
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187