New York Mets: Miguel Olivo

Series preview: Mets vs. Dodgers

May, 18, 2014
5/18/14
8:04
PM ET

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.

Rapid Reaction: Marlins 8, Mets 4 (10)

June, 9, 2013
6/09/13
4:46
PM ET
NEW YORK -- If only the Miami Marlins played the Mets every day.

The Mets failed to protect an eighth-inning lead and were swept for the second straight weekend by the Marlins, this time with an 8-4 loss in 10 innings Sunday at Citi Field before an announced paid crowd of 21,747.

After Bobby Parnell allowed consecutive singles to open his second inning of work, Daniel Murphy errantly fielded Adeiny Hechavarria’s grounder to allow the go-ahead run to score from second base. Robert Carson entered and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Greg Dobbs and two-run homer to Miguel Olivo as the Marlins ultimately posted four runs in the 10th. Parnell was charged with three runs (two earned).

At least this time it did not take 20 innings, like Saturday’s loss.

Miami is 8-3 against the Mets and 10-41 against the rest of baseball this season.

The Mets (23-35) matched their season low-water mark at 12 games under .500, although they're still seven games ahead of the Marlins for fourth place in the National League East.

Fried rice: Scott Rice, summoned for his MLB-leading 34th relief appearance to begin the eighth with the Mets leading 4-3, surrendered a game-tying leadoff homer to Derek Dietrich and departed. Lefty batters had been hitting .143 (9-for-63) against Rice with one extra-base hit -- an April 5 double by Miami’s Rob Brantly -- before Dietrich’s homer.

Shouldering the load: Jonathon Niese, who missed his last rotation turn with a shoulder issue, then had his rotation reentry delayed by rain, allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits and one walk while striking out four in 6 2/3 innings. He threw 103 pitches in what became a no-decision.

Niese made his first start since May 27.

The southpaw departed with a 4-3 lead in the seventh after allowing consecutive two-out singles to opposing pitcher Tom Koehler and Juan Pierre. LaTroy Hawkins entered and retired 31-year-old rookie Ed Lucas on a groundout to strand both inherited runners.

Niese had taken a 4-1 lead into the sixth, when he surrendered a two-run double to Marcell Ozuna. The second run was unearned because Juan Lagares misplayed the ball in right-center. Niese did strand Ozuna at third base to preserve the one-run lead. He retired Logan Morrison on a shallow flyout and coaxed a groundout to third from Justin Ruggiano.

Wright stuff: David Wright, who entered Sunday hitting only .200 (13-for-65) over his last 16 games, broke a 1-all tie in the third with a two-run double against Koehler.

Murphy, in his first start in the cleanup spot this season, followed with a run-scoring groundout as the Mets took a 4-1 lead. Murphy’s solo homer in the second accounted for the Mets’ opening run.

JV caliber: After bunting for a base hit in the first, Jordany Valdespin made the final out at third base that inning when he was caught stealing with Murphy at the plate.

In a pinch: Terry Collins used Justin Turner as a pinch hitter for Ike Davis for a second straight day.

Welcome back: Kirk Nieuwenhuis made his return as a pinch hitter in the 10th. He struck out.

What’s next: After an off-day Monday, the Mets welcome the St. Louis Cardinals. In Tuesday’s series opener, Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.36 ERA) opposes phenom Michael Wacha (1-5, 4.36) in the right-hander’s third major league start.

Morning briefing: Laffey era begins

April, 7, 2013
4/07/13
6:40
AM ET

Mark Cunningham/MLB/Getty Images
Anthony Recker and Aaron Laffey are expected to make their Mets debuts as Sunday's battery.
FIRST PITCH: Left-hander Aaron Laffey makes his Mets debut in Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. rubber game as the Mets attempt to plug the rotation spot intended for Shaun Marcum.

Laffey, who turns 28 in eight days, went 4-6 with a 4.56 ERA in 22 appearances (16 starts) for the Toronto Blue Jays last season.

Terry Collins indicated Anthony Recker will serve as Laffey’s batterymate, after John Buck caught the season’s first five games and produced nine RBIs.

Marcum received injections in his neck for nerve inflammation on Thursday in New York. He has not pitched in a game since March 16, when he logged four Grapefruit League innings. So Laffey, or someone, will need to plug several turns in the rotation at least.

The Mets will be aiming to win consecutive series to open the season for only the second time in 11 years.

After the series finale, the Mets head to Philadelphia to open a three-city, 10-game trip that also takes them to Target Field in Minnesota for the first time, then to Coors Field in Denver.

Matt Harvey faces Roy Halladay in Monday’s series opener at Citizens Bank Park, followed by Dillon Gee and Cliff Lee on Tuesday, and Jeremy Hefner and Kyle Kendrick on Wednesday.

Sunday’s news reports:

• Buck contributed four RBIs and Daniel Murphy produced a tiebreaking triple in the seventh that plated Mike Baxter as the Mets beat the Marlins, 7-3, Saturday. Jonathon Niese limited Miami to two runs (one earned) in six innings. The performance extended the southpaw’s streak of consecutive starts logging six-plus innings to 22, the longest active mark in the majors.

David Wright finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and upped his career average against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco to .409 in the victory. Ruben Tejada committed his fourth error in five games.

Even though he is viewed as a placeholder -- heck, Travis d’Arnaud, not Buck was featured in the Mets’ Citi Field calendar giveaway -- Buck nonetheless has an NL-leading nine RBIs. That’s one ahead of Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier, although not quite Chris Davis’ gaudy total of 17 with the Baltimore Orioles. Mets catchers combined for 48 RBIs all of last season.

Read game recaps in the Post, Times, Newsday, Record, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel.

Jeurys Familia was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas after Saturday’s game to clear a roster spot for Laffey. Familia is expected to serve as a reliever. The Mets shifted Johan Santana to the 60-day DL to open a 40-man spot. Read more in Newsday and MLB.com.

• Cuban defector Jose Fernandez -- at 20 years old the youngest pitcher ever to debut for the Marlins -- makes his major league debut opposite Laffey. Clark Spencer in the Miami Herald reports only three pitchers since 1970 have made the jump from Class A to the majors and logged 100 innings as rookies: Dwight Gooden, Jeremy Bonderman and Rick Porcello. Fernandez should be unflappable notes Juan Rodriguez in the Sun-Sentinel. Writes Rodriguez:


Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Cuban defector Jose Fernandez makes his major league debut today at Citi Field.


Fernandez knows what it's like to be scared. Getting caught trying to escape Cuba with his mother and sister as a 14-year-old was scary. Jumping into open water to rescue his mother when she felt out of the boat shuttling them to freedom was scary.

Making his major league debut for Fernandez is the fulfillment of a dream, considerably earlier than most expected.

"When she sees me throw the first pitch she's going to start crying like crazy," said Fernandez, whose parents and personal pitching coach were among those flying up from Tampa Saturday for the Sunday matinee. "[My mom] has been more emotional than me about this. She can't believe it. Every day it's the same text. 'I can't believe this is happening. You're ready. You're so young and you already have your dream. You had it in your mind. I'm proud of you.'"

As for making Fernandez eligible for free agency a year early by having him start the season with the team, which the Mets are unwilling to do with Zack Wheeler, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told Spencer: “So what? We’ll deal with it. He’s unique.”

• Baseball America has a Q&A with Mets scouting director Tommy Tanous. Read here.

• Umpire Jim Joyce briefly halted Saturday’s game in the eighth inning and conferred with security after fans were shouting the location Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo was setting up for pitches, Buck told Marc Carig in Newsday.

• Terry Collins said the outfield won’t be as consistent as predicted only a week earlier. Baxter, who reached base three times and scored twice while batting in the leadoff spot, should start again Monday against Halladay in Philly, according to the manager.

Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post wants more Baxter in the leadoff spot against right-handed pitching. Writes Davidoff:

We know the Mets’ outfield is a collection of modestly compensated has-beens and could-bes. However, what stands out about Baxter is just how good he has been in his limited major-league chances. He now has a career on-base percentage of .363 in 270 plate appearances. It constitutes barely half a season, but doesn’t that match favorably against Cowgill, Marlon Byrd, Jordany Valdespin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, three of whom own virtually no big-league success and the fourth of whom (Byrd) hasn’t been good for many years?

“He takes a base on balls,” Collins said. “If he was a genuine base-stealer, he’d be dangerous. You look up, and he’s got a .375 on-base. It seems like he’s on first base all of the time.”

Read more on the outfield in Newsday and the Star-Ledger.

Ike Davis is hitting .158, but is unalarmed. "At least I know that I'll be all right," Davis said, according to Newsday. "Last year, I didn't."

• Niese is looking like an ace, writes columnist Tim Smith in the Daily News.

• Read more on Buck in the Post.

• Tejada’s four errors are tied with Washington’s Ian Desmond for the most in the majors among shortstops. Read more on Tejada’s fielding woes in the Daily News and Post.

• Left-hander Steven Matz, who finished last season idle with a shoulder issue, took a scoreless effort into the fifth inning in Savannah’s 6-3 loss to Rome on Saturday. Blake Forsythe had three hits and three RBIs in his Double-A debut with Binghamton. Collin McHugh pitched Las Vegas to a 3-0 record. The Mets’ four full-season affiliates are a combined 10-2 -- with both losses suffered by low-A Savannah. Read the full minor league recap here.

From the bloggers … Shannon from MetsPolice.com went to Saturday's game and wasn't happy with a Citi Field supervisor, nor the scoreboard operator. … Faith and Fear in Flushing basks in the glow of Buck's golden hour.

BIRTHDAYS: Vinny Rottino, whom the Mets lost off waivers last June while clearing a roster spot for left-handed reliever Justin Hampson, turns 33. After finishing last season with the Cleveland Indians, Rottino signed with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan in December. ... Mets bullpen coach Ricky Bones turns 44.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do the Mets have enough of a safety net in starting pitching minus Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum as they await Zack Wheeler?

Series preview: Mets vs. Marlins

April, 4, 2013
4/04/13
9:49
PM ET

USA TODAY Sports
The Mets face (l to r) right-handers Alex Sanabia, Ricky Nolasco and Jose Fernandez this weekend.
METS (2-1, second place/NL East) vs. MIAMI MARLINS (0-3, fifth place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-0, -.--) vs. RHP Alex Sanabia (0-0, -.--), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-5, 2.70) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (0-1, 3.00), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Aaron Laffey (0-0, -.--) vs. RHP Jose Fernandez (0-0, -.--), 1:10 p.m. ET

Marlins short hops

Jose Fernandez, the 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of high school in Tampa, will make his major league debut Sunday. The 20-year-old right-hander went a combined 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA in 25 Class A starts last season between Greensboro and Jupiter.

The Marlins opted to use the rookie with Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez on the disabled list, both with shoulder inflammation.

Fernandez arrived in the U.S. from Cuba by boat as a refugee in 2008. In preparation for Sunday’s start, Fernandez threw a simulated game Tuesday in D.C., with first-year manager Mike Redmond and hitting coach Tino Martinez acting as batters. Both are not that far removed from major league careers.


Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports
John Maine made the Marlins' Opening Day roster. He last pitched in the majors in 2010 with the Mets.


• Ex-Met John Maine made Miami’s Opening Day roster as a reliever. He did not appear during the season-opening series at D.C., so his first major league action since his Mets days may come this weekend at Citi Field. Maine last threw a big league pitch on May 20, 2010 in Washington. It was after that abbreviated outing that pitching coach Dan Warthen called Maine a “habitual liar” with respect his truthfulness about injuries. Maine went 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in six games during spring training. He struck out nine and walked nine in 13 2/3 innings.

• Fellow ex-Met Jon Rauch signed a one-year, $1 million free-agent contract with the Marlins on Feb. 5.

• Miami, which completed its latest fire sale during the offseason, mustered only one run while getting swept in a season-opening three-game series at Nationals Park. The Marlins became the first team to total no more than one run in the team's first three games since the 1988 Orioles (also one run), according to ESPN Stats & Information. The '88 Orioles opened that season 0-21.

• Third baseman Placido Polanco batted cleanup the first two games of the season. He had never started a game in that slot previously in his 16-year career.

• First baseman Casey Kotchman will land on the disabled list Friday, two days after straining his left hamstring. He becomes the third first baseman the Marlins have lost this season. Logan Morrison (knee surgery) is on the 60-day DL, while Joe Mahoney is on the 15-day DL with an intercostal strain. Among the flurry of moves last season, the Marlins traded first baseman Gaby Sanchez to the Pittsburgh Pirates last July 31.

Greg Dobbs should handle the bulk of the first-base duty for now, while Austin Kearns and rookie Chris Valaika may see action at the position, too.

Giancarlo Stanton, the lone remaining threat in Miami’s lineup, led the NL in slugging percentage (.608) and finished second to Ryan Braun in homers last season, with 37. Stanton now has 93 career homers, matching Frank Robinson for fifth-most in MLB history before turning 23. The only players with more: Mel Ott (115), Eddie Mathews (112), Tony Conigliaro (104) and Alex Rodriguez (95).

• Catcher Miguel Olivo signed with Miami on March 29 after playing in 21 games for the Cincinnati Reds during spring training. Jeff Mathis suffered a broken right clavicle early in spring training.

• In the Nov. 19 trade that sent Jose Reyes, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to Toronto, the Marlins received minor leaguers Anthony DeScalfani, Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino as well as Alvarez, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria and Mathis. Reyes bristled during spring training at Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, after Loria denied advising Reyes days before the trade to buy a house in Miami.

Alex Sanabia, 24, will make his first major league appearance since Sept. 24, 2011 in the series opener. He went 6-7 with a 4.06 ERA in 17 starts last season at Triple-A New Orleans, where he also had three DL stints.

Olivo tops Mets' free-agent catcher list

December, 5, 2012
12/05/12
3:21
PM ET

Steven Bisig/USA Today Sports
Miguel Olivo tops the Mets' wish list at catcher among free agents, according to a source.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If the Mets go the free-agent route at catcher, Miguel Olivo is now their top target, a major league source briefed on the Mets' plans told ESPNNewYork.com.

The Mets need a righty-hitting complement to Josh Thole. Among free agents, the Mets rate Olivo far higher than alternatives Chris Snyder and Matt Treanor. And team officials are determined not to revisit any of the former Mets on the market, including Kelly Shoppach, Rod Barajas and former farmhand Jesus Flores.

The Mets may still swing a trade for a catcher, but there was nothing concrete developing on that front. Opposing teams were making ludicrous demands in exchange for a catcher -- such as top prospect Zack Wheeler -- according to an organization source.

Olivo, 34, hit .222 with 12 homers and 29 RBIs in 315 at-bats for the Seattle Mariners last season.

Treanor does not interest the Mets. He is viewed as comparable to Mike Nickeas. One team insider suggested the Mets were wary of Snyder's back.

Shoppach highly unlikely to return

December, 3, 2012
12/03/12
11:51
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Don't look for a catcher who has passed through the Mets to return to the organization as the righy-hitting complement to Josh Thole.

Any of them.

A major league official painted it as a highly unlikely scenario that the Mets would re-sign Kelly Shoppach, who finished last season with the club after being acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Pedro Beato on Aug. 16.

Similarly, scratch off fellow ex-Mets Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco as well as former Mets farmhand Jesus Flores, who was non-tendered by the Washington Nationals, sources advise.

So where do the Mets go for catching?

The remaining righty-hitting free agents include Miguel Olivo, Chris Snyder and Matt Treanor. The Mets also could acquire a backup catcher via trade, although that may prove difficult because the club may be asked to overpay for another team's backup, since rival GMs sense the Mets' desperation to fill the role.

Mets morning briefing 7.15.12

July, 15, 2012
7/15/12
8:53
AM ET
ATLANTA -- Asked to perform a five-out save after inheriting a two-run lead with two runners on base, Bobby Parnell suffered a blown save in the eighth. The Braves scored three runs and beat the Mets, 8-7, Saturday at Turner Field.

Looking to avoid getting swept, Johan Santana pitches in today's at 1:35 p.m. game for the first time since twisting his right ankle in his final first-half start while manning first base. Santana opposes ex-Brewer Ben Sheets, who will make his first major league appearance since July 19, 2010.

Sunday's news reports:

Matt Harvey will audition Monday with Triple-A Buffalo against Toledo for the rotation spot vacated by Dillon Gee, who underwent potentially season-ending surgery Friday in St. Louis to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder. Terry Collins said a bevy of front-office executives will watch Harvey's International League start to gauge his readiness to face the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday at Citi Field. Collins said the decision for Gee's replacement essentially is down to Harvey and Miguel Batista. Zack Wheeler undoubtedly will be a consideration for a promotion soon as well, but not now, according to Collins. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post, Record, Daily News and Newsday.


Courtesy of New York Mets
Zack Wheeler


• Wheeler tossed his first professional complete-game shutout and Reese Havens homered in Binghamton's 1-0 win against Erie. Read Saturday's full minor league recap here.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post advocates promoting Harvey. Writes Sherman:

I agree with the conservative approach Sandy Alderson has brought to handling his high-end youngsters. He was hired to create a feeder system that would foster contention for years and reject knee-jerk maneuvers to briefly satiate fans or ownership. It would be an all-too-familiar stupid Met trick to start Harvey on Saturday just to fill Citi Field. But if the Mets’ officials deem Harvey and ultimately Wheeler are ready and not at undo risk to injure themselves, then there should be no restraint in summoning them.

At worst, two key future pieces will get New York and playoff-chase experience. At best, they will give youthful energy to a whole roster trying to make a long-shot run to the postseason. Those odds have gotten longer the past two days as Young and R.A. Dickey managed just eight total innings in two Mets losses to Atlanta, including an 8-7 bullpen collapse yesterday.


Jason Bay's rehab assignment moved to Buffalo on Saturday after two games with Class A St. Lucie. He went 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts as the DH. Collins said it's realistic for Bay to return Tuesday, when the Mets open a series against the Nationals. Mike Baxter, meanwhile, is due to begin a rehab assignment today with St. Lucie. It will be Baxter's first game since dislocating his right collarbone on the June 1 catch that preserved Santana's no-hitter.

Lucas Duda will be out of the starting lineup through the weekend with a barking left hamstring, which did not calm down during the All-Star break. Duda did pinch hit in the ninth Saturday, and said that action did not adversely affect his recovery. Once Bay returns, the slumping Duda's playing time could diminish anyway, particularly against left-handed pitching, when Scott Hairston should often be assigned to right field. Read more in the Post and Newsday.

• Collins was ejected arguing a reversed call on an attempted catch by Jordany Valdespin in left field, although the manager postgame suggested the umps got it right. Read more in Newsday.

David Lennon in Newsday looks at the issue of instant replay. Commissioner Bud Selig suggested in Kansas City last week that the baseball community has very little desire to increase video-review usage. "Baseball is a game of pace," Selig told reporters at the All-Star Game. "You can't compare it to other things. So we've got to be very sensitive and careful how we proceed. I can tell you the appetite for more instant replay in the sport is very low. There are some people who think maybe we've gone too far already."

R.A. Dickey surrendered five runs in five innings but received a no-decision. David Wright struck out four times. Read game recaps in the Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Post and Daily News.

• The Braves acquired shortstop Paul Janish from Cincinnati on Saturday for right-hander Todd Redmond. The move became necessary after rookie phenom Andrelton Simmons broke his pinkie in the first-half finale. Read more in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Peter Gammons reiterated a Post report that if the Mets are unsuccessful landing catcher Ramon Hernandez from the Rockies, they could turn to Boston's Kelly Shoppach, according to Cody Deresprina in Newsday. Sherman lists Miguel Olivo and Oakland's Kurt Suzuki as other catching options, although he notes the $7.1 million owed to Suzuki even after this season is an obstacle. Adds Sherman:

They also continue to hunt a righty reliever, but keep being underwhelmed by options such as Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez and Houston’s Brandon Lyon. They have talked to Minnesota about Matt Capps.

TRIVIA: Name the three Mets players to be ejected this season.

Saturday's answer: The players to finish ahead of seventh-place Ike Davis in the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year balloting: winner Buster Posey, runner-up Jason Heyward as well as Jaime Garcia, Gaby Sanchez, Starlin Castro and Neil Walker.

Mets morning briefing 7.9.12

July, 9, 2012
7/09/12
3:19
AM ET
Jon Niese allowed four first-inning runs and ultimately surrendered seven runs in seven innings as the Mets lost to the Cubs, 7-0, at Citi Field on Sunday. The Mets entered the All-Star break with a 46-40 record, exceeding many expectations, but off a series loss to Chicago.

If the playoffs started today, the National League division winners would be Washington (49-34), Pittsburgh (48-37) and Los Angeles (47-40).

Atlanta (46-39) and Cincinnati (47-38) would claim the wild cards, with the Mets as well as St. Louis and San Francisco -- with identical 46-40 records -- a half-game back.

The Mets reassemble for a late-afternoon workout Thursday at Turner Field in Atlanta. They then begin another critical stretch Friday against the Braves. That series will be followed by one in D.C. The Amazin's then return home to face Los Angeles and again the Nats.

As for going 2-4 this season against the Cubs, who are now a half-game better than Houston for the worst record in the majors, Terry Collins said: "They played us really well. Maybe it's one of those, it's a bad matchup for us." The Mets also were swept in Houston a month into the season.

Monday's news reports:

• The Mets and Rockies are discussing a trade involving righty-hitting catcher Ramon Hernandez. The deal could be expanded to include left-handed reliever Matt Reynolds, a baseball source told ESPNNewYork.com. The source added that players who interest the Rockies include Justin Turner as well as prospects Matt den Dekker, Jacob deGrom, Josh Edgin, Chase Huchingson, Jack Leathersich, Domingo Tapia and Wilfredo Tovar. While there was optimism a deal could ultimately be consummated, there was no indication the Mets would agree to include any of those Rockies targets. The Post's Joel Sherman also links the Mets to catchers Kelly Shoppach (Boston) and Miguel Olivo (Boston).

Sandy [Alderson] and I talk every single day,” Collins said, speaking generally about the trade deadline. “He’s certainly aware of what our needs are. We talk about it. We know where our holes are. We know how to fill them. But the asking price to fill them sometimes isn’t going to be paid. We’re just not going to sacrifice the future for a piece for a month. And I’ve been there before. Believe me. And it’s one of the things I’ve learned -- look, I can’t worry about what I don’t have. I know what we need. Everybody on any team that’s competing right now needs a piece to get better. But I also know it can kill you down the road to give up some of those things that you have to.

"In my past places, some of the asking prices, when you go to the players and go, ‘Yeah, we could have gotten so-and-so, but it would have cost that guy,’ they all say, ‘Well, you can’t move him.’ So we’ll just have to see what happens.”

Writes Sherman about Hernandez in the Post:

It is the kind of incremental improvement they want to make to enhance their postseason chances. One Mets official said, “We are not talking about acquiring Gary Carter in 1985 here.” Translation: It is still a few weeks from the deadline, when teams can ask for big returns, but the Mets will wait for more realistic requests or else not make the purchase.

Alderson, speaking on SNY during Sunday's game, suggested he had been burned in the past by acquiring a catcher midseason. That was the case, he suggested, because of the acquisition's unfamiliarity with the new pitching staff and not providing enough offensive improvement over the incumbent to justify the swap in retrospect. In the current case, Mike Nickeas is hitting .172 with a homer and 13 RBIs in 93 at-bats.

Read more in the Star-Ledger.

R.A. Dickey, David Wright and Terry Collins departed for the All-Star Game in Kansas City via chartered plane after Sunday's loss. Dickey made one last pitch for the starting nod on the mound for the NL, saying it would be easier for starting catcher Buster Posey if the knuckleballer opened the game, since that would afford the duo extra time to work together during warmups as well. NL skipper Tony La Russa is expected to name his starting pitcher at a 1:30 p.m. ET press conference Monday. Meanwhile, Wright is excited to return to the All-Star Game after a one-year absence. He was not selected for the 2011 game, snapping a six-year streak, because he was sidelined with a stress fracture in his lower back. Read more in Newsday.

• Columnist Tara Sullivan in the Record salutes Wright's first-half performance, writing:

As he stood postgame at his locker trying to remember everything he needed to pack for his upcoming sixth All-Star Game appearance and the six-game road trip that follows, Wright talked about the consistency his team needs to find in the season’s second half. What he never would say is that everyone needs to find it but him. Wright has been the eye in the center of this crazy storm, the steward, the leader, the beacon of consistency amid all that swirls around him. Like a straight line through a swirling mass, he has kept this team on course. “Absolutely carried us in the first half,” manager Terry Collins said.

Jon Rauch had a rough beginning to the All-Star break. The reliever revealed via Twitter he was involved in an automobile accident after Sunday's game. He tweeted:

got sideswiped on the way home.....awesome. guy tried to merge into my jeep. Jeep 1 - Benz S-class 0. took 2.5 hrs for police to show up. Entire side of the benz destroyed by the 37" tires and Ace Eng. sliders. Couple dents in the rear door from his mirror. The Jeep is a tank. no injuries. glancing blow to both cars. He's lucky i didn't drive over the top of his hood!! to be honest, felt like i hit a pothole. heard the accident more than i felt it.

Rauch then tweeted a photo of his Jeep pre-accident, which you can view here.

• It turns out Johan Santana's right ankle is not as healed as desired. After twisting it then getting stepped on Friday by Reed Johnson while covering first base, Santana nonetheless was scheduled to start Friday's second-half opener in Atlanta. Now, Dillon Gee will take that start, followed by Dickey in Game 2. Collins said either Santana or Niese will start Sunday's finale at Turner Field, with the other opening the following series at Washington. Chris Young remains the fifth starter out of the break. "He’s fine. Don’t misread anything," Collins insisted about Santana. "We just want to make sure that he’s 100 percent when we come out of the break." Read more in the Post, Record and Daily News.

• Read Sunday's game recaps in the Times, Post, Record, Newsday, Star-Ledger and Daily News.

• Alderson appeared for an inning and a half on SNY. There were no revelations, but the GM did suggest Zack Wheeler would make roughly two more starts for Double-A Binghamton before being promoted to Triple-A Buffalo. And Alderson, without naming Josh Edgin, implied the lefty reliever would be imminently promoted after the All-Star break so the Mets can gauge what they have before the trade deadline. Alderson spoke about multiple relievers coming up, so perhaps Jenrry Mejia is soon to join the Mets as well. "I think you'll see a couple of new faces between now and the end of July," Alderson said on the telecast, referring to promotions. "And we'll take a look at them and see what we think, and at the same time be evaluating what else is available to us."

• Wheeler and fellow Binghamton Met Wilmer Flores participated in Sunday's Futures Game in K.C. Wheeler retired both batters he faced. Flores started at third base for the World team and went 0-for-2. "Amazing," Flores told David Lennon in Newsday about Wheeler. "He's one of the best. He's going to make some money."

Wheeler's Double-A dominance had a brief interruption recently, when he allowed 12 runs (11 earned) on 13 2/3 innings over a pair of starts. But Wheeler got back on track in his most recent outing, which happened to come against the Double-A affiliate of his former organization, the San Francisco Giants. He limited Richmond to one run in 7 1/3 innings Thursday. A runner inherited by the bullpen scored for the only to be charged to him. "Sometimes you can get away with throwing hard and missing your spots," Wheeler told Lennon. "But in those games, I was missing my spots and they were hitting me. That reminded me of what would happen if I was in the big leagues. It was a good learning experience, so actually I'm glad it happened."

Read more on Wheeler and the Futures Game in the Times and Post.

• Ex-Met John Maine surrendered six runs in 4 2/3 innings, including damage on homers by den Dekker and Josh Satin, as Buffalo headed into its All-Star break on a four-game winning streak. Mejia was struck above the right ankle in that game and was pulled. Buffalo hosts the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday. The home run derby, scheduled for today, includes Valentino Pascucci. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.

• Collins believed Jason Bay (concussion) and Frank Francisco (oblique) both could appear in their first rehab game Wednesday, with Class A St. Lucie at Tampa. The expectation would be both could rejoin the Mets for the series at Washington that begins next Tuesday, after a team off-day. Meanwhile, Andres Torres, who has remained on the active roster despite back woes, hopes to be ready to reenter the lineup the day the Mets open second-half play.


Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Trainer Ray Ramirez observed Johan Santana after the southpaw's ankle twisted, then was stepped on by Reed Johnson at first base in the fifth inning Friday. Two days later, the Mets disclosed Santana's first second-half start will be delayed.


• Francisco has ended up entangled in another Yankees-related controversy, although this time the closer did not call them "chickens" or anything else. Andrew Marchand writes at ESPNNewYork.com about a spat between Boston reliever Vicente Padilla and the Yankees' Mark Teixeira that managed to rope in Francisco. Writes Marchand:

Padilla and Teixeira have had a feud that dates back seven years. In his initial two at-bats against Padilla in 2005, Teixeira hit homers each time. Since, according to Teixeira, Padilla has been head-hunting. ... [Padilla] implied that Teixeira had issues with Padilla and former teammate Frank Francisco because they were Latin. "The problem is he talks about all the wrong things that others have done, but the things he's done -- against the Latinos [on the Texas Rangers] -- he doesn't open his mouth about," Padilla told the website (NESN.com). "He once threatened me and said he was going to hit me with a bat, and that's when we were playing on the same team."

Jordany Valdespin made his first major league start in center field Sunday. “I guess it was towards the end of the first year I ever saw him, when you saw the athleticism, you almost said, ‘You know what? This guy would make a pretty good center fielder,’’’ Collins said. ”So there was always that thought to put him out there.’’ Valdespin, a natural middle infielder, had made 15 appearances (14 starts) in the minors this season in center field. He also had four Grapefruit League appearances (two starts) at the position this year. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Wally Backman again criticized Reggie Jackson for comments critical of Gary Carter's Hall of Fame worthiness, this time in the Daily News.

• Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison tweeted he used to play for the Mets.

Anthony Rieber provides a first-half recap in Newsday, as does Jared Diamond in the Journal. Mike Kerwick in the Record recommends to believe in the Mets.

Michael Salfino in the Journal notes that if Ike Davis maintained his .203 average and his current RBI pace, he would have the worst average in baseball history among players who drove in 90-plus runs. It would top Dave Kingman's .204 average and 99 RBIs, which Kingman happened to post in 1982 as a Met.

TRIVIA: Who is the youngest Met ever to have a plate appearance in an All-Star Game?

Sunday's answer: Edgardo Alfonzo was the last Met to appear at second base in an All-Star Game. He went 0-for-2 at Turner Field on July 11, 2000 after replacing starter Jeff Kent.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.289 9 57 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187