New York Mets: Minnesota Twins
ESPN IllustrationThe Braves will honor Hank Aaron on Tuesday night at Turner Field.
FIRST PITCH: After spending a day off in Atlanta, the Mets open their first road trip of the season. The nine-game journey also includes stops in Anaheim and Phoenix.
Bartolo Colon is due to face ex-Met Aaron Harang in Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener at Turner Field. A pregame ceremony will honor 80-year-old Hank Aaron on the 40th anniversary of homer No. 715, which moved him past Babe Ruth as MLB’s all-time home-run leader.
Lucas Duda is due to start at first base, after Ike Davis belted a pinch-hit grand slam Saturday, then started Sunday at the position.
Read the Mets-Braves series preview here.
Also Tuesday, Bobby Parnell is due to undergo Tommy John surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Team doctor David Altchek will perform the procedure.
The timing gives Parnell the best chance to return for the start of next season. There is typically a 10- to 14-month recovery time.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• The Mets are 105-144 at Citi Field and 122-121 on the road since the start of the 2011 season. Is that just luck? Or more media and appearance responsibilities at home hindering performance? Or the dimensions of Citi Field? The exact answer is not clear. But even the meal schedule is under scrutiny by team officials, Jared Diamond reports in the Journal. Writes Diamond:
In the past, the team would provide a light meal and snacks when the players arrived to work, consisting of salad and sandwiches. Then a larger meal, more akin to dinner, was served after batting practice, which ends about two hours before a 7:10 p.m. game.
After consulting the team nutritionist, they reversed the menu this year, with the heavier food coming out before batting practice. Teams eat this way on the road because they hit second, leaving them with little time between batting practice and the game. The Mets also changed the times of certain meetings to better resemble the road routine.
• Colon allowed three runs on nine hits, including two homers, in six innings in his Mets debut Wednesday against the Washington Nationals. Read more on Colon in the Post.
• The Mets have struck out 61 times so far, a franchise record through six games of a season. “We’re going to strike out,” Terry Collins told John Jeansonne in Newsday. “The middle of our lineup, because of the kinds of hitters they are, they’re going to strike out.”
• The Mets are not believed to be active in trying to land a free-agent reliever, even after losing Parnell for the season. Writes Anthony DiComo at MLB.com:
General manager Sandy Alderson continues to monitor the closers on the open market, according to one team executive, but he is not ready to pounce on one just yet -- or, perhaps, ever.
Two factors explain Alderson's hesitancy. First, the Mets are genuinely curious to see what three-time All-Star Jose Valverde can give them in the ninth inning. Considering Valverde’s successful 12-year history of closing games and his early success out of the bullpen this season, there is reason to believe he can be just as effective as Joel Hanrahan, Ryan Madson or any other free agent working his way back from injury.
• Tyler Kepner in the Times scrutinizes Travis d’Arnaud, who has opened the season hitless in 15 at-bats. “He’ll be fine,” David Wright told Kepner. “He can hit. He’s hit at every level. So he’s off to a slow start. He’s caught very well, thrown some runners out, called some good games. We’ve gotten quality starts, and that’s because of Travis. Defensively, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do, and offensively, he’ll come around, because his track record says he’s going to hit.” Read more on d'Arnaud in the Post, Daily News and Record.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed three runs in five innings and Matt den Dekker had a walk-off infield single that plated Cesar Puello as Las Vegas beat Sacramento, 7-6, Monday. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• The Yankees traded Eduardo Nunez to the Minnesota Twins for left-hander Miguel Sulbaran. Mets reportedly were not involved in trade discussions about Nunez.
• From the bloggers … Mark Berman at Blogging Mets thinks the Mets have too many uniforms.
BIRTHDAYS: Timo Perez turns 39. ... The late Gary Carter was born on this date in 1954. ... 2013 12th-round draft pick Jeff McNeil, currently playing with low-A Savannah, is 22.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Courtesy of Dillon GeeOpening Day starter Dillon Gee, pictured with wife Kari Ann and son Hudson, gets his final spring-training tune-up Wednesday night.
FIRST PITCH: Opening Day starter Dillon Gee gets his final spring-training tune-up when the Mets play a 6:05 p.m. game Wednesday against the Houston Astros in Kissimmee. Gee opposes Scott Feldman (WOR 710 AM).
Wednesday’s news reports:
• The Mets handed Daisuke Matsuzaka a $100,000 retention bonus Tuesday, preserving the right to send him to the minors. However, it is not as simple as suggesting Jenrry Mejia has won the fifth starter’s job. The Mets want to preserve the eligibility of Matsuzaka and Mejia to be in the rotation if the elbow issue with Jonathon Niese flares up.
Matsuzaka is the one who can be held off the Opening Day roster and still sub for Niese on April 6 if needed. That’s because Matsuzaka is on a minor-league contract. Once Mejia is optioned to the minors, he would be ineligible to take Niese’s start, because Mejia would by rule need to spend the first 10 days of the regular season with Las Vegas.
Incidentally, relief is off the table for Mejia.
Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Matt Harvey and the Mets have settled on a rehab plan. During the season’s first couple of months, Harvey will rehab in New York when the Mets are at home and work out in Port St. Lucie when the big-league club is away from Citi Field. Once he begins expected mound work in June, the rehab will shift nearly exclusively to the team’s Florida complex.
“Certain situations I feel strongly about and I may approach them a little bit differently,” Harvey told David Lennon in Newsday. “But I’m all about this team. I’m all about the New York Mets and I’m all about winning. I can preach that until I’m blue in the face. …
“We had kind of gone back and forth, but it was never an alarming situation. It wasn’t me trying to get my way the whole time and it wasn’t them trying to get their way the whole time, which was kind of perceived through the media. We worked out a good deal and I think everybody is happy.”
David Wright was among those counseling Harvey on the subject. Writes columnist Joel Sherman in the Post:
Wright told Harvey when he was rehabbing the fractured bone in his lower back and had to be with the team because the rehab doctor was in New York, he made sure he arrived super-early to make sure he did not take away doctor/trainer time from active players. He advised Harvey do the same, and also to mimic what he has done in March -- attend the pitchers’ meetings and be an active cheerleader and information dispenser in the dugout. The message is simple: You have to be a supporting actor at Citi, not a star of the City; a dispenser of high fives, not a staple of Page Six.
“It’s been my philosophy that I am an employee, not the employer,” Wright said. “The advice I gave him was to find common ground with the Mets. To definitely do what is best for him, but also not to lose sight that he is the employee, not the employer.”
Read more on Harvey in the Star-Ledger.
• Zack Wheeler allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings, including a three-run homer to Bryce Harper, as the Mets lost to the Washington Nationals, 7-3, Tuesday in Viera. Wheeler next faces the Nats next Thursday, in Game 3 of the regular season.
• The Associated Press calculates the Mets’ payroll at $89 million, which ranks 22nd in MLB.
• Frank Viola will require open-heart surgery next Wednesday and will be unable to serve as pitching coach at Triple-A Las Vegas. Read more in Newsday and MLB.com.
• The Wilpons’ settlement with the trustee collecting money for victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is down to $80 million, to be paid in equal installments in 2016 and 2017.
• Sandy Alderson expects Ike Davis and Lucas Duda both to be on the Opening Day roster. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• Kyle Farnsworth, who is due to be re-signed by the Mets, rode the bus to Viera on Tuesday with the team despite technically not being a member of the organization.
• Ex-Met Mike Pelfrey was the victim of a practical joke by Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and teammates.
• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post labels the Mets among the NL’s offseason winners, writing:
They finally spent some money, even if it was only to keep the payroll flat, to acquire Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon. Risky outfield acquisition Chris Young has enjoyed a good spring training.
• Luis Rivera is Double-A Binghamton’s new hitting coach. He replaces Luis Natera, who was promoted to assistant hitting coach with the big-league club.
• Granderson reminisces about his first Opening Day at MLB.com.
• Bovada sets the following over-unders for the Mets in 2014:
David Wright -- BA in the 2014 Regular Season
David Wright -- Total HRs in the 2014 Regular Season
David Wright -- Total RBIs in the 2014 Regular Season
Curtis Granderson -- Total HRs in the 2014 Regular Season
Curtis Granderson -- Total RBIs in the 2014 Regular Season
Ike Davis -- BA in the 2014 Regular Season
Daniel Murphy -- BA in the 2014 Regular Season
Daniel Murphy -- Total Stolen Bases in the 2014 Regular Season
Daniel Murphy -- Total RBIs in the 2014 Regular Season
Dillon Gee -- Total Wins in the 2014 Regular Season
Jonathon Niese -- Total Wins in the 2014 Regular Season
Bartolo Colon -- Total Wins in the 2014 Regular Season
• Jonathan Lehman in the Post has a history quiz about Mets Opening Day starting pitchers.
• John Lannan is getting acclimated to a relief role, Mike Vorkunov writes in the Star-Ledger.
• Omar Quintanilla appears likely to beat out Anthony Seratelli for the backup middle-infield job. But Seratelli has hopes of making his MLB debut at age 31, writes Tim Rohan in the Times.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets infielder Jose Vizcaino turns 46.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Where do you stand on the above over-unders?
S/O to our captain David Wright hooking up the minor league side with the Olive Garden spread today for lunch #Mets— Brandon Welch (@B_Welch21) March 25, 2014
FIRST PITCH: The Mets take a relatively short drive to Jupiter on Saturday to face the Miami Marlins.
Bartolo Colon, who appears lining up for the second game of the season, opposes Marlins left-hander Brad Hand at 1:05 p.m. at Roger Dean Stadium (WOR 710 AM).
Terry Collins expects Daniel Murphy to play in his first Grapefruit League game since Sunday, when Murphy injured his right calf.
Saturday’s news reports:
• A day after Ike Davis snapped an 18-day absence from Grapefruit League play, Lucas Duda snapped an absence of identical length. Duda belted a two-run homer and logged five innings at first base Friday against the Minnesota Twins. Duda also demonstrated that the left hamstring issue that hampered him for more than two weeks may truly be behind him. He hustled to score from first base on a first-inning double by Davis with no apparent ill effect. Collins said early season appearances for Duda in the outfield are pretty much off the table because the hamstring injury prevented Duda from getting work out there. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Expected Opening Day starter Dillon Gee limited the Twins to one run in 5 1/3 innings as the Mets beat Minnesota, 9-1, at Hammond Stadium. Gee still has yet to walk a batter this spring training. The Mets scored seven first-inning runs against ex-Marlin Ricky Nolasco, capped by a two-run homer from Taylor Teagarden. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Free-agent Stephen Drew is willing to sign a one-year, $14 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, who have lost shortstop Jose Iglesias to stress fractures in his shins, John Lowe writes in the Detroit Free Press. The Tigers nonetheless helped address their shortstop deficiency by acquiring Andrew Romine from the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. Romine is a former teammate of Ike Davis at Arizona State.
• The 7 Line, which produces Mets-themed T-shirts, is now an officially licensed MLB brand and will have a kiosk near Shake Shack at Citi Field, the company announced. Founder Darren Meenan launched the business in 2010 “printing T-shirts in my parents’ basement,” he wrote.
• Bobby Parnell skipped the three-hour trip to Fort Myers and instead allowed one hit in two scoreless innings in a minor-league game in Port St. Lucie. Parnell reportedly topped out at 94 mph, a good sign since his velocity has been down this spring training. Jose Valverde, who also is ticketed for the Opening Day bullpen, had a perfect frame against minor leaguers.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal studies the Mets’ plan to bat the pitcher eighth on occasion. The conclusion: There may be a benefit, but it is negligible.
Diamond writes that teams averaged 4.51 runs per game when batting the pitcher eighth since 1980. Those same teams averaged 4.33 runs per game batting the pitcher ninth during that span.
“You just can’t create runs -- or lose them -- by moving hitters around in the lineup,” renowned statistician Bill James told Diamond. “… To the small extent that it may matter, I think it is extremely likely that you’re better off with the pitcher batting eighth, rather than the pitcher batting ninth.”
The Mets’ logic in batting the pitcher eighth is that the No. 9 batter, likely Juan Lagares, essentially becomes a leadoff hitter, with No. 3 David Wright batting cleanup, the second time through the order. That should give Wright more opportunities to drive in runs.
• Columnist Kevin Kernan writes in the Post that Curtis Granderson’s positive disposition should help the Mets.
• From the bloggers … Blogging Mets predicts more losing for the Amazin’s in 2014.
BIRTHDAYS: Ike Davis turns 27 today. ... Former Mets reliever Joe Smith, now with the Angels, is 30.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Opening Day starter Dillon Gee limited Minnesota to one run on five hits while striking out four and walking none in 5 1/3 innings. Scott Rice, Gonzalez Germen, Jeurys Familia and Carlos Torres combined to blank the Twins the rest of the way.
Ruben Tejada began the first-inning barrage against the ex-Marlin Nolasco with a one-out double. It marked the fifth straight at-bat in which Tejada produced a hit, after being 2-for-his-first-24. He finished the game 1-for-3 to lift his average to .226.
In his first Grapefruit League game since March 3, Lucas Duda next was plunked by a pitch. Ike Davis and Andrew Brown followed with consecutive doubles. Kirk Nieuwenhuis then tripled. Taylor Teagarden capped the inning’s scoring with a two-run homer.
Duda added a two-run homer in the fourth against Casey Fien.
What’s next: Bartolo Colon opposes Miami Marlins left-hander Brad Hand at 1:05 p.m. Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter (WOR 710 AM). Terry Collins expects Daniel Murphy (calf) to play for the first time since Sunday. Davis is due to man first base.
Juan Lagares, cf
Ruben Tejada, ss
Lucas Duda, 1b
Ike Davis, dh
Andrew Brown, lf
Zach Lutz, 3b
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, rf
Taylor Teagarden, c
Omar Quintanilla, 2b
Dillon Gee, rhp
Brian Dozier, 2b
Jason Bartlett, ss
Joe Mauer, dh
Jason Kubel, rf
Wilkin Ramirez, lf
Chris Parmelee, 1b
Josmil Pinto, c
Eduardo Escobar, 3b
Alex Presley, cf
Ricky Nolasco, rhp
Glenn Pinkerton/Associated PressEric Campbell produced a ninth-inning double while manning first base for the Mets on Saturday in Vegas against the Cubs.
FIRST PITCH: Opening Day is only 15 days away.
And Sunday marks the final split squad of spring training for the Mets.
All eyes will be on Jupiter, Fla., where Jonathon Niese will make his second Grapefruit League start (WOR 710 AM).
Niese, slowed early in camp by shoulder weakness, needs to demonstrate he is ready to make the Opening Day start against the Washington Nationals on March 31 at Citi Field.
Niese did eventually ramp up to 88-89 mph in his initial Grapefruit League appearance five days ago. But early in that outing Terry Collins was concerned, especially when Niese’s first pitch -- a fastball -- registered only 79 mph.
Niese opposes St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright at 1:05 p.m.
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, the Mets look to sweep a two-game series from the Chicago Cubs. After the game, the Mets take a chartered flight back to Florida, which should land about 1 a.m.
Although Jenrry Mejia may be ticketed for the Las Vegas rotation with Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, and Logan Verrett or Cory Mazzoni, Mejia will continue to try to make a case for the fifth-starter’s job when he starts at 4:05 p.m. ET opposite Cubs left-hander Chris Rusin.
Mejia tossed two scoreless innings against the Nats in his lone Grapefruit League appearance, on March 5. He was dominant for another two innings in a “B” game in his last outing.
Sunday’s news reports:
Mike Puma in the Post reports the Mets “seem resigned to at least starting the season with [Ruben] Tejada at shortstop.”
• Dillon Gee escaped unscathed in three-plus scoreless innings despite surrendering five hits, but the Mets ultimately tied the Minnesota Twins, 3-3, in a split-squad game at Tradition Field on Saturday. Vic Black surrendered three eighth-inning runs. 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith singled in his first career Grapefruit League at-bat. Jeurys Familia, working for a second straight day, topped out at 98 mph and broke the webbing of catcher Taylor Teagarden’s glove with one fastball. Familia has now tossed five scoreless innings. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Newsday, Record and MLB.com.
• In Las Vegas, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo homered twice against Bartolo Colon, but the Mets produced a 9-4 win at the home of their Triple-A affiliate. Bobby Parnell contributed a scoreless innings. Wilmer Flores had a two-run homer. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Lucas Duda and Ike Davis continued to get minor-league at-bats Saturday without running full throttle after making contact. They are expected to repeat that activity for a third straight day Sunday, Bob Geren said. Both are aiming for actual Grapefruit League games by midweek. Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.
• Terry Collins continues to suggest he may bat the pitcher eighth, at least on occasion. In that scenario, Tejada would bat ninth, the manager tells Anthony Rieber in Newsday.
• Tim Rohan in the Times features the Mets’ program that teaches Spanish-speaking players English. He notes that because Montero rose so quickly through the system because of his on-field success, he missed out on some of the English-learning opportunities more readily available in the low minors. Writes Rohan:
It has not helped that Montero has only a first-grade education, as he told The Star-Ledger last year. He grew up in rural Sabana Higüero in the Dominican Republic and moved to Santo Domingo at 17 with an older brother, hoping to play professional baseball someday. He trained tirelessly, and at 20 he signed with the Mets for $90,000.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News notes Las Vegas is not the ideal location for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, especially because it is rough on pitchers. However, while the player-development agreement expires after the 2014 season, allowing the Mets to switch, the club may be forced to stay in Vegas, since it is unclear if any city with an International League team will have a vacancy. Sandy Alderson has noted that Las Vegas has hired an experienced groundskeeper for the upcoming season, which should help. Read more in the Post, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Matt Ehalt in the Record profiles Syndergaard, who can squat 460 pounds and dead lift more than 500 pounds.
• Michael J. Fensom in the Star-Ledger has a Q&A with Chris Young, whose favorite TV show is “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” His favorite episode? “When Will teaches Ashley to play the drums.”
• From the bloggers … The Eddie Kranepool Society asks: Opening Day, are we there yet? … Faith and Fear shares an anecdote about our small digital world and a long-ago Braves playoff defeat. … The King of Queens urges Sandy Alderson to acquire Nick Franklin before someone else swoops in.
BIRTHDAYS: Curtis Granderson turns 33. ... Stephen Drew, who isn't a Met -- not yet, anyway -- turns 31.
TWEET OF THE DAY:Ruben Tejada will be the Opening Day shortstop?
Acting manager Bob Geren hoped for Gee to pitch five innings, as Zack Wheeler had done Friday night. But Gee reached his limit after delivering pitch No. 63 -- a leadoff double to Chris Colabello in the fourth.
“That’s not good to go three innings with 65 pitches,” Gee said. “Hopefully during the season I’ll get more innings out of that.”
Left-hander Dana Eveland, a former big leaguer who pitched in Korea, stranded Colabello by retiring three straight Twins. Eveland, 30, ultimately contributed 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He was being borrowed from minor-league camp.
Gee had allowed four singles over the first two innings. His final line: 3 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.
“I didn’t give up any runs. That’s a key,” Gee said. “I didn’t feel that great today. Whatever it was five days ago that made me feel so good wasn’t really there today. I just have to keep working on it. I made big pitches when I had to today in key situations, with guys on base. That was good. ... The changeup felt good. I threw a lot of offspeed pitches behind in the count. That more replicates what’s going to happen during the year.”
How they scored: The Mets got a first-inning solo homer from Chris Young against left-hander Scott Diamond. Daniel Murphy staked the Mets to a 2-0 lead in the third with a sacrifice fly that plated Matt Reynolds. Josh Satin added a fifth-inning RBI single.
Vic Black walked two while loading the bases in the eighth. He then surrendered a two-run single to Eduardo Escobar and run-scoring single by Jermaine Mitchell as Minnesota evened the score at 3.
Zeroing in: Jeurys Familia tossed a scoreless ninth, including breaking the webbing on catcher Taylor Teagarden's glove with one fastball. Familia now has logged five scoreless Grapefruit League innings, having allowed only one hit while striking out four and walking none.
The projected Opening Day bullpen at this point includes Bobby Parnell, Black, Jose Valverde, Carlos Torres, Scott Rice, Familia and John Lannan.
“Two days in a row he threw the ball really well,” Geren said about Familia. “Obviously he threw the ball hard. I think he hit 100 mph out there today. He broke Teagarden’s glove. It went through the web. That’s kind of like a script out of a movie. That’s pretty fun. At first I thought Teagarden missed it. And then he turned around and ran for a new glove.”
Debutant: 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith, an 18-year-old playing high school ball in Los Angeles at this time last year, finished the game at first base. He produced a hit in his first career Grapefruit League at-bat, on an eighth-inning dribbler back up the middle.
“I felt a little bit of nervousness,” Smith said. “Besides that, I was excited.”
Smith, incidentally, has a tattoo on his right forearm that reads: “Your dream.”
He explained: “For me, it means never give up on your dream. You only live once in your life, so no matter how tough it gets, or no matter how hard it gets, especially in baseball, always fight.”
What’s next: Jonathon Niese attempts to move beyond a rough first Grapefruit League start in which a first-pitch fastball registered only 79 mph. The southpaw opposes St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright at 1:05 p.m. Sunday in Jupiter, Fla. Niese is slated to be the Opening Day starter if he proves he is ready for the assignment after missing time early in camp with shoulder weakness.
Matt den Dekker, rf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Chris Young, cf
Josh Satin, 3b
Matt Clark, 1b
Anthony Recker, dh
Taylor Teagarden, c
Brian Burgamy, lf
Matt Reynolds, ss
Dillon Gee, rhp
Jason Bartlett, 2b
Aaron Hicks, cf
Trevor Plouffe, 3b
Oswaldo Arcia, dh
Chris Colabello, 1b
Chris Parmalee, rf
Darin Mastroianni, lf
Eric Fryer, c
Danny Santana, ss
Scott Diamond, lhp
The Mets' bench includes infielder Dilson Herrera, who was acquired with Vic Black from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Marlon Byrd and John Buck. Former major leaguers Dana Eveland and Buddy Carlyle will be in the bullpen.
John Minchillo/Associated PressSandy Alderson wants to be general manager of the Mets for two or three more years, according to the Post.
FIRST PITCH: With position players due to report Thursday and the first full-squad workout scheduled for Saturday, the Mets have all but two of their players already in camp -- Omar Quintanilla and Wilfredo Tovar.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• Sandy Alderson wants to remain Mets GM for two or three more years, but “definitely not five,” Mike Puma reports in the Post, quoting a source. Alderson is in the fourth year of his original four-year deal, which also includes a team option.
• Alderson confirmed to columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News that the Mets’ offer to closer Grant Balfour exceeded the two-year, $12 million deal he accepted from the Tampa Bay Rays. Alderson told Madden he did not make a similar offer to Fernando Rodney (who ultimately signed for two years, $14 million with the Seattle Mariners) because Rodney’s camp indicated it wanted $10 million-plus a season.
• The Pittsburgh Pirates will continue to monitor Ike Davis for a potential trade, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports.
Meanwhile, will getting Davis double the typical number of spring-training at-bats help guard against another slow start to the season? Collins said it worked for Tim Salmon while Collins managed the Angels in the late 1990s. Still, Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger notes that the Phillies’ Domonic Brown led the majors last spring training with 90 at-bats and then hit only .233 in April.
• A Mets official severely downplayed a report the club is having dialogue with free-agent Nelson Cruz.
• The Mets signed right-hander Buddy Carlyle to a minor-league contract. Carlyle, 36, did not receive an invitation to big-league camp. Lefty Dana Eveland also received a minor-league contract with no invite.
• How excited can you really get about prospects, especially if you’re familiar with the bust that was Generation K? Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post:
There’s only one proven method for the optimists to prevail, and that’s with sheer numbers. These Mets hope they’re building such a model for success.
“We know the history. Some guys don’t make it. That’s just what happens,” Paul DePodesta, the Mets’ vice president of player development and amateur scouting, said Monday. “They get hurt. They have a disappointing performance. They don’t continue to develop at the same rate they had previously.
“But I think we’ve gotten to the point now, in terms of volume, where some of them are going to make it. Not every one of them will, but a good number of them should, based on what we have at this point.”
• Terry Collins does not foresee Wilmer Flores on the big-league roster if Flores is not a starter. Flores, meanwhile, is confident he can play shortstop on the limited occasions he gets exposure there during spring training. Read more in the Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.
• Collins affirmed right-handed prospect Cory Mazzoni will get consideration for the Opening Day roster as a reliever, despite serving as a starter in the minors. Mazzoni actually breaking camp with the Mets would appear an uphill battle, though, unless there are injuries or Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth are busts. Further complicating it: Mazzoni is not yet on the 40-man roster. John Rowe in the Record looks at the Mets’ late-inning relief.
• How can Eric Young Jr. increase his on-base percentage? By bunting more, Collins believes.
Regarding Young’s capability to increase his OBP, Alderson tells Marc Carig in Newsday: “The question is whether he has the potential to improve on that if it becomes a priority. On-base percentage is often a function of approach as opposed to mechanics. If we were asking him to hit 30 home runs, that’s not going to work. But guys can adjust.” Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Juan Lagares will start in center field in the Grapefruit League opener on Feb. 28, but will he be in the outfield on Opening Day at Citi Field? With Curtis Granderson and Chris Young now on board, that seems to depend upon whether EY Jr. is a starter. “I think I did good last year, but I know I can do a little better,” Lagares told the Post. Read more in the Daily News.
• Hitting coach Dave Hudgens believes Travis d’Arnaud will have more success at the plate now that he is not trying to hit every pitch for a homer.
• Mets pitchers in 2013 had their most strikeouts and fewest sacrifices in the team’s past five seasons, writes Marty Noble at MLB.com. Bartolo Colon, who has not played in the National League since 2002 with the Montreal Expos, has blisters from practicing hitting so much this offseason in the Dominican Republic, according to the report.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis is not forgotten, Collins told the outfielder Tuesday.
• Zack Wheeler does not mind getting less attention this spring training with Noah Syndergaard generating the buzz.
• Mets pitchers are not keen on wearing the new protective hats, although several pledged to try it once a shipment arrives.
• With three Mets players’ surnames beginning with lower-case “D’s -- d’Arnaud, Matt den Dekker and Jacob deGrom -- team equipment manager Kevin Kierst worked with Majestic to design lower-case uniform letters, writes Jared Diamond in the Journal.
• Unemployed reliever Tim Byrdak had a little fun tweeting a job-wanted advertisement. Read more in the Daily News.
• Free-agent Johan Santana continues discussions with the Minnesota Twins, but no deal is imminent, Venezuelan journalist Efrain Ruiz tweeted.
• The Houston Astros may relocate their spring-training complex to the area, but there are no active discussions with the Mets about sharing the Port St. Lucie complex, according to a source. The Astros, who originally tried to pair with the Toronto Blue Jays to build a complex, now may partner with the Washington Nationals somewhere in Palm Beach County, the Houston Chronicle reports.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing is pleased WOR and the Mets have found 710 ways to please their listeners. … Mets Police asks if you would trade Syndergaard and d’Arnaud for R.A. Dickey. … John Delcos at Mets Report concludes the organization has future payroll flexibility. … NY Mets Life looks at the lost art of the complete game.
BIRTHDAYS: Poet and former Mets pitcher Miguel Batista turns 43. … Alvaro Espinoza is 52. … Tim Burke turns 55.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you want Sandy Alderson to remain GM a few more years?
Offers have been slow so I thought I'd practice for 2018. I should have followed IKEAs directions on the sled ! pic.twitter.com/7o1LwkLdaf— Tim Byrdak (@Givemethelefty) February 18, 2014
Dillon Gee took a scoreless effort into the seventh inning and the Mets pounded out 10 hits and walked twice in 3 2/3 innings against Minnesota Twins rookie starter Kyle Gibson en route to a 6-1 victory at Target Field on Monday afternoon.
The Mets completed their four-city trip with a 5-6 record.
Gee pulled even with Matt Harvey for the team wins lead with No. 9. As with Harvey, the Mets are now 13-12 in Gee starts.
The lone scored against Gee by Minnesota was unearned. Daniel Murphy committed an error fielding a groundball after Trevor Plouffe had doubled with two outs in the seventh.
Gee's final line: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K. He threw 99 pitches (67 strikes).
The Mets improved to 10-4 in interleague play, the best record of any NL team.
The game was a makeup of one postponed from mid-April, when freezing rain fell in Minneapolis. The Mets had a game snowed out in Colorado on that same early season trip. They won that Denver makeup as well, on June 27, during a brief stopover that concluded a June four-city trip.
Monday’s superlatives included a first-inning RBI single by designated hitter Andrew Brown, who went 7-for-12 with a walk and six RBIs on the trip.
Golden glove: Juan Lagares had another highlight-reel play -- tracking down Josh Willingham’s would-be extra-base hit at the center-field wall to end the first inning. Lagares also gracefully retreated to snare Pedro Florimon’s shot to end the seventh.
The only center fielder with more defensive runs saved than Lagares’ 20 is Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez with 27, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Walk in the park: With his three-day cameo now expired with John Buck set to return from paternity leave, Travis d’Arnaud is still searching for his first MLB hit. D’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk. He is now 0-for-7 with five walks as a big leaguer. Sometime before Tuesday’s homestand opener, the Mets must declare whether d’Arnaud will remain at the major league level.
Byrd word: Marlon Byrd had a solo homer in the ninth, giving him 20 for the season. That matches his career high, which he originally achieved in 2009 with the Texas Rangers.
What’s next: The Mets host the Atlanta Braves for two games at Citi Field. Zack Wheeler (5-2, 3.43 ERA) opposes right-hander Brandon Beachy (2-0, 4.50) Tuesday at 7:10 p.m.
Eric Young Jr., lf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Marlon Byrd, rf
Ike Davis, 1b
Andrew Brown, dh
Wilmer Flores, 3b
Travis d’Arnaud, c
Juan Lagares, cf
Omar Quintanilla, ss
Dillon Gee, rhp
Brian Dozier, 2b
Joe Mauer, c
Josh Willingham, lf
Justin Morneau, 1b
Ryan Doumit, dh
Oswaldo Arcia, rf
Trevor Plouffe, 3b
Clete Thomas, cf
Pedro Florimon, ss
Kyle Gibson, rhp
USA TODAY SportsDillon Gee faces Kyle Gibson in a makeup game Monday at Target Field.
Monday: RHP Dillon Gee (8-8, 3.79) vs. RHP Kyle Gibson (2-3, 6.27), 2:10 p.m. ET
Twins short hops
• Rookie Kyle Gibson, the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 draft, makes his 10th major league start. (The Mets forfeited their first-round pick, 24th overall, to the Los Angeles Angels that year after signing Francisco Rodriguez the previous offseason. Mike Trout went 25th overall, also to the Angels.)
Gibson underwent Tommy John surgery on Sept. 7, 2011. He was a potential top-10 pick out of the University of Missouri, but dropped after suffering a stress fracture in his right forearm his junior year.
• First baseman Justin Morneau reportedly cleared waivers, making him eligible to be traded in August and eligible for another team’s postseason roster. The free-agent-to-be Morneau is making $14 million in 2013, in the final season of a six-year, $80 million deal. He has six homers in August.
• Catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit returned from the disabled list Friday after missing eight games with a concussion. He had been struck with a foul ball in the facemask, then experienced nausea three days later while trying to play through the head injury.
• Outfielder/DH Josh Willingham (.222, 12 HR, 42 RBIs) returned from the DL on Aug. 9 after undergoing left knee surgery. He missed 33 games.
• Joe Mauer went 5-for-7 with a homer and four RBIs on Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians. Mauer’s .322 average ranks fifth in the American League.
• Third baseman Trevor Plouffe is hitting .154 (8-for-52) with three RBIs in 14 starts in August.
• Minnesota is batting .167 with runners in scoring position during its past 11 games. The Twins were 2-for-18 in those situations in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
• Monday's makeup game originally was scheduled for April 14, but was called because of freezing rain.
The game will be made up on Monday, Aug. 19 at 2:10 p.m. ET, on an off-day after the Mets were due to fly home from a series in San Diego.
The forecast is not considerably better for the upcoming four-game series in Denver. Rain and snow is forecast for early in the series, while temperatures as low as 14 degrees are expected Wednesday.
The updated pitching rotation for the Rockies series:
Monday: Dillon Gee
Tuesday: Aaron Laffey
Wednesday: Jeremy Hefner
Thursday: Jonathon Niese
The Mets could have skipped Laffey until Friday, but that would have pushed him into the Washington Nationals series. Instead, Matt Harvey is due to open the series against Washington.
Harvey is lining up to face Stephen Strasburg in the series opener against the Nats.
The Mets may have to use Laffey on Sunday against Washington, but Shaun Marcum is due to throw some type of rehab game Tuesday. There's a "chance" he could be ready to face the Nats.
Of course, that presumes the Mets will play all four games in Denver -- no guarantee.
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Justin Morneau trots around the bases after breaking up Matt Harvey's no-hit bid with two outs in the seventh with a homer.
FIRST PITCH: The forecast is for a 90 percent chance of freezing rain throughout the day. Dillon Gee opposes Kevin Correia this afternoon at 2:10 p.m. ET if the game proceeds, as the Mets aim for a series sweep of the Minnesota Twins.
If the game is postponed, conceivably the Mets could bump Aaron Laffey -- who is scheduled for Tuesday in Colorado -- all the way until Friday and continue with a four-man rotation.
Sunday’s news reports:
• Matt Harvey took a no-hit bid two outs into the seventh inning, when Justin Morneau homered off the right-field foul pole. The Mets ultimately won, 4-2, against the Twins on Saturday at Target Field. Read game recaps in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News, Times and Record.
• Sandy Alderson tells Matt Balasis at Metsmerized Online that there have not been “any conversations” with the Miami Marlins regarding Giancarlo Stanton since early in spring training. The GM added that he is not trading John Buck at the deadline and suggested the Mets can find a way to get Travis d’Arnaud and Buck on the field at the same time if Buck continues to produce.
• Left-hander Steven Matz limited Rome to an unearned run in five innings and Jayce Boyd belted a three-run homer as Savannah won, 8-6. Read the full minor league recap here.
• It’s been cold this trip. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post, Newsday, Daily News and Record.
• Agent Chris Leible tweeted that Jose Reyes appreciated receiving a supportive call from Terry Collins on Sunday regarding an ankle injury that will sideline the Toronto Blue Jays shortstop for three months.
• The Mets have homered in their first 11 games, the longest streak to open a season since Tampa Bay went deep in 12 straight in 2007. Read more in Newsday.
• Kristie Ackert in the Daily News talks with reliever Scott Atchison about his daughter Callie, who was born with the genetic-disorder thrombocytopenia-absent radius syndrome (TAR). She experienced low platelet levels and is missing a set of bones in her forearms.
“She figures out how to do things,” Atchison told Ackert. “We worried she would have trouble with writing, coloring, cutting when she went to school, but she has found a way. It may not be the way I would do it, but she finds a way.
“And she has never let this slow her down. She loves school. The teacher said she is the one who is friends with both the girls and the boys. She just finished her first season of T-ball, and she loves soccer. As a parent, I think we worried about what she might miss out on or might not be able to do, but she doesn’t. She just shows us how she is going to do it.”
• Cody Derespina in Newsday statistically addresses whether Ike Davis should be facing lefty pitching.
• Jonathan Lehman in the Post writes about Double-A right-hander Rafael Montero.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear says "Amen!" after the Third Day of Harvey. … At Mets Police, Shannon loves Harvey but worries about both the manager's enthusiasm for no-hitters and the specter of dynamic ticket pricing. … Rising Apple offers a statistics-driven piece that attempts to debunk the claim that Ike Davis has already "failed to become a franchise cornerstone.”
BIRTHDAYS: Mike Bomback, who went 10-8 with a 4.09 ERA for the Mets 23 years ago, was born on this date in 1953.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Are you surprised by the Mets’ 7-4 start? Or should it be taken with a grain of salt because the series wins have come against the Padres, Marlins and Twins?
Morneau got lucky... We need to come up with a nickname for this kid... He's the real deal... Matt "THE REAL DEAL" Harvey !!! @mattharvey33— Dwight Gooden (@DocGooden16) April 13, 2013